During the homily of his mass last Wednesday, May 22, Pope Francis said that redemption has been made for everyone…even the atheists.
We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. 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.
It was pleasant to hear a Pope trying to reach out to all kinds of people, including the nonbelievers. At least, someone thinking that even those who don’t believe in his god can be good human beings is better than someone who claims that only by believing in his god will someone be good or moral. And the statement rather tries to diffuse that ever tightening tension between the theists and atheists, as a result of religious fanaticism that only theirs is the true religion or their religion is the only source of morality (depending on which religious group you’re talking to).
Pope Francis emphasized the importance of doing good works as uniting all humans. It wasn’t the first time that he had alluded to solidarity with atheists, as he was quoted saying that ”atheists and nonbelievers could be precious allies in efforts to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation.”
It is nice hearing humanist concepts from the leader of a big religious institution such as the Roman Catholic Church. By those statements, it was implied that belief in God is not necessary in order to do good things.
In response to the media attention, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who know about the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”
(Translation: Atheists are going to Hell if they don’t accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.)
And just when I thought that the Roman Catholic institution is starting to be open-minded, Vatican reverts back to its stance that it is only through their religion that anyone can be good or “redeemed”.
Atheists will not care if they are eligible to enter heaven or not, because they do not believe in it nor in eternal redemption or punishment nor in heaven or hell. But what is importance is perspective of god-believers towards nonbelievers. Pope Francis was trying to bridge this gap by saying that everyone can be good, regardless of their beliefs. But Vatican counteracts such measure with its statement, trying to hold on to their “exclusivity” as the one true religion.
I don’t know what those folks are up to. But I thought Catholics believe that their Pope is infallible? Then why does the Vatican itself release a counter-statement?