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Opinion God Will Forgive Non-believers, Even Atheists, Pope Says

Jan 7, 2005
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Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

God will forgive non-believers, even atheists, Pope says

By Nick Squires, The Daily Telegraph - September 11, 2013


Pope Francis waves to pilgrims upon his arrival in St Peter's square at the Vatican on September 11, 2013, for his weekly general audience.

Photograph by: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE , AFP/Getty Images


By Nick Squires in Rome


Pope Francis has struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone towards atheists and agnostics, saying that God will “forgive” them as long as they behave morally and live according to their consciences.

The unprecedented gesture came as his incoming number two, the Vatican’s newly nominated secretary of state, said the rule that priests should be celibate was not “a dogma of the Church” and could be open for discussion.

Francis, who has won praise for spontaneous and unusual moves during his six-month papacy, wrote a lengthy letter to a newspaper, La Repubblica, which the Italian daily printed over four pages.

“God forgives those who obey their conscience,” he wrote in the letter, the latest example of the markedly different tone and style from his predecessors that he has set since being elected in March.

The 76-year-old pontiff was responding to editorials written in July and August by Eugenio Scalfari, an agnostic and the paper’s founder, in which he was asked whether “the Christian God forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith”.

Mr Scalfari said he had not expected the Pope to answer “so extensively and so affectionately, with such fraternal spirit”.

The Pope wrote: “The question for those who do not believe in God is to follow their own conscience. Sin, even for a non-believer, is when one goes against one’s conscience.

“To listen and to follow your conscience means that you understand the difference between good and evil.”

He said that the “mercy of God has no limits” and encompassed even non-believers, but his remarks failed to impress the Italian Union of Atheists and Agnostics. “Why should a non-believer seek legitimisation from the Pope?” the association asked.

It dismissed what it called the pontiff’s “nice words” and said: “What interests non-believers is certainly not ‘forgiveness’ from an entity whose existence we do not trust.”

The Pope’s comments echo a homily he delivered in May, when he said that even atheists could be welcomed into heaven. That declaration caused consternation among Vatican officials, with a spokesman later appearing to backtrack on the remarks, saying that people who do not believe in God “cannot be saved”.

Meanwhile, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, a Vatican diplomat who will next month become the Pope’s deputy as secretary of state, said that the principle of celibacy among clergy was “ecclesiastical tradition” rather than “Church dogma” and therefore open to discussion.

© Copyright (c) The Province

source: http://www.theprovince.com/news/will+forgive+believers+even+atheists+Pope+says/8901181/story.html
 

findingmyway

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Aug 18, 2010
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It’s Not What the Pope Said About Gays, It’s How He Said It

By Stephan Faris / Rome July 29
STEFANO RELLANDINI / AFP / Getty Images<figure class="entry-thumb entry-thumb-m "><figcaption></figcaption></figure>At first glance, Pope Francis’ statement on homosexuality, delivered today in an impromptu press conference aboard the papal plane, seemed to indicate a remarkable break with church tradition. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis told journalists, as he flew from Rio de Janeiro to Rome. “The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … They’re our brothers.”

The Pope’s words were warmly received by gay activists in Italy and elsewhere. “From now on, when I hear a bishop or a priest say something against me, I’m going to say, ‘Who are you to judge,’” says Franco Grillini, president of Gaynet Italia, the association of gay journalists in Italy.

But like many of Francis’ more newsmaking statements, the real difference is less about the contents of his words than in the direct, earthy style in which he delivers them and the church teachings he chooses to emphasize. “It’s the way he’s expressing himself, with great candor, that is surprising to people,” says John Wauck, a professor of communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. “Actually, the substance of it is nothing exceptional.”

Francis’ comment in May that some atheists might make it into heaven drew headlines. The Vatican’s subsequent explanation that his words were in line with a long tradition of church teachings did not. Similarly, Francis’ statement on the plane was not far from the passage on homosexuality in the catechism of the Catholic Church, published under Pope John Paul II in 1992. That text calls on Catholics to accept homosexuals “with respect, compassion and sensitivity,” avoiding “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard.”

Where he differed is in what he left out: the accompanying message in the catechism that while a gay person is to be accepted, acting out on homosexual acts is to be deplored: “Under no circumstances can they be approved … Homosexual persons are called to chastity.” Francis, who cited the catechism in his answers to reporters, said nothing to contradict this. Asked for his position on gay marriage, he answered: “You know perfectly the position of the church.”

But while Francis has put little doctrinal space between himself and his predecessors, comments like the one on the plane reflect a clear choice in the early months of his papacy to de-emphasize the issues of sexual morality that have made the church a lightning rod in the culture wars.

Even as France was consumed last spring in debate over the legalization of gay marriage, a battle that pitted the French church against the government, Francis made no mention of the issue.

In Brazil, he told the reporters on the plane, he purposefully avoided talking about abortion or gay marriage, in order to stay focused on the positive. “His message is not ‘Don’t do that, don’t do this,’” says Wauck. “The moral strictures are present, but they’re implicit. The attention of the Pope is on a much larger vision of the church and what Christianity has to offer to the world.”

http://world.time.com/2013/07/29/its-not-what-the-pope-said-about-gays-its-how-he-said-it/
 
Aug 17, 2013
27
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Atlanta GA USA
This Pope will single handedly save the RC Church. Religion should be about love and forgiveness. The RCC has done much in the way of charity work. They do serve their fellow man.

I was impressed with Francis from the day he washed the feet of AIDS victims.
His rejection of the gold gilded palatial Papal apartments speaks volumes about his spiritual dedication.

One of the great facets of Vatican II was the recognition of other religions. It is good to see that theology back in Vatican walls again.
 

chazSingh

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SPNer
Feb 20, 2012
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This Pope will single handedly save the RC Church. Religion should be about love and forgiveness. The RCC has done much in the way of charity work. They do serve their fellow man.

I was impressed with Francis from the day he washed the feet of AIDS victims.
His rejection of the gold gilded palatial Papal apartments speaks volumes about his spiritual dedication.

One of the great facets of Vatican II was the recognition of other religions. It is good to see that theology back in Vatican walls again.
Don;t think i have ever taken any notice of what a Pope has said until this guy came in.

Some of his actions and words can only have a positive effect
 

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