Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics
Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he
declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists.
During his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome, Francis emphasized the
importance of "doing good" as a principle that unites all humanity, and a
"culture of encounter" to support peace.
Using scripture from
the Gospel of Mark, Francis explained how upset Jesus' disciples were
that someone outside their group was doing good, according to a report
from Vatican Radio.
“They complain,” the Pope said in his
homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If
he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them:
“Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope
Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of
possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth,
cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope
Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all
have – is in creation”
Pope Francis went further in his sermon to say:
"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of
the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at
heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not
Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can... "The Lord has redeemed all
of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just
Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists.
Everyone!".. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe,
Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Responding to the leader of the Roman Catholic church's homily, Father
James Martin, S.J. wrote in an email to The Huffington Post:
"Pope Francis is saying, more clearly than ever before, that Christ
offered himself as a sacrifice for everyone. That's always been a
Christian belief. You can find St. Paul saying in the First Letter to
Timothy that Jesus gave himself as a "ransom for all." But rarely do you
hear it said by Catholics so forcefully, and with such evident joy. And
in this era of religious controversies, it's a timely reminder that God
cannot be confined to our narrow categories."
Of course, not
all Christians believe that those who don't believe will be redeemed,
and the Pope's words may spark memories of the deep divisions from the
Protestant reformation over the belief in redemption through grace
versus redemption through works.
The pope's comment has also struck a chord on Reddit, where it is the second most-shared piece.
More from Reuters:
Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis
said on Wednesday in his latest urging that people of all religions - or
no religion - work together.
The leader of the world's 1.2
billion Roman Catholics made his comments in the homily of his morning
Mass in his residence, a daily event where he speaks without prepared
He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus.
"Even them, everyone," the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. "We all have the duty to do good," he said.
"Just do good and we'll find a meeting point," the pope said in a
hypothetical conversation in which someone told a priest: "But I don't
believe. I'm an atheist."
Francis's reaching out to atheists
and people who belong to no religion is a marked contrast to the
attitude of former Pope Benedict, who sometimes left non-Catholics
feeling that he saw them as second-class believers.
ideas may not be agreeable to others and in fact may offend many
Catholics.But in my opinion they are true - Jesus came for all humanity
and He belongs to all man.Jesus is not an exclusive right of Christians
and Catholics as many are made to believe.