Everyone agrees by now that Pope Francis is not what we are used to seeing in the leader of the Catholic Church. In a recent comment, he told atheists that God’s mercy “has no limits.”
The comment in effect says that, if you are a good person, you can also be forgiven even if you don’t believe in God, which is something the Church has long denied.
Pope Francis was responding to a series of questions asked by Eugenio Scalfari, co-founder and former editor of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
Scalfari got his answers in the form of a 2,500 word letter the Pope sent in to the journalist, who claims to be a “non-believer.”
Francis uses his now trademark conciliatory tone instead of a confrontational and judgmental one, which has often times turned people off from the Church.
His response made it to the newspaper’s front page in its entirety.
Pope Francis tried to make his point without lecturing, saying that atheists should abide by what their conscience tells them and reminded those who don’t believe that God’s mercy “has no limits.”
Francis is clearly trying to engage the groups that usually believe the Catholic Church is not inclusive enough, such as gays, atheists, and other minorities.
In response to the question of whether God forgave those who did not believe, the Pope said:
“Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart,” the pope wrote, “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”
Pope Francis is considered by many, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, as a breath of fresh air and as he finds himself in his sixth month of pontificate is already leaving a lasting impression with millions.