I would like to take this opportunity to thank Pope Francis for clearing up the last 4000 years of recorded history. The human race has been in a death struggle with this whole business of sin and redemption, good and evil, since the Garden of Eden. Perhaps the most existential battle in all of human history has been between the world’s great religions, each with conflicting truth claims, each proscribing different ways and means of personal salvation. But now this new Pope comes along to assure us all that it was all a big misunderstanding. See, it doesn’t matter any longer whether someone actually believes in God are not, since we’re all going to heaven anyway. Not only that, but we also learned from the Pontiff that there’s apparently only one sin, the sin of failing to obey your conscience. I, for one, am very relieved to hear this, since I have always had trouble with several of those Ten Commandments.
Pope Francis shared this new world-changing truth in a letter to Eugenio Scalfari, the founder of the newspaper, La Repubblica, which had published a list of questions for the Pope to answer. It is here where the world learned this new ground breaking truth:
“Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.”
Ok! Seems a bit convoluted and a bit contradictory, but hey, he’s infallible. For example, if someone doesn’t believe and doesn’t “seek the faith”, why would they ever go to him with a sincere and contrite heart? And what happens if a person obeys their “conscience” when it’s telling them to strap on fifty pounds of explosives so they can detonate themselves in a crowded subway killing 100 innocent people?
Listen people, I’m no theologian, and I’m certainly no Catholic basher, in fact I’ve always had much admiration for certain aspects of Catholic tradition. But trying to fathom what Pope Francis could possibly been thinking here is a struggle. Perhaps a clue to his thinking can be discovered in the first sentence of the newspaper article that reported the story in the first place;
“In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation…”
I’ll say! You can’t get much more progressive than, “don’t worry folks, God has unlimited mercy so we’re all good!” Later on in the article, we discover that the Pope’s comments were further evidence of his attempts to shake off the Catholicism’s fusty image, and overcome barriers to an open dialogue with all.
Well, personally, I’ve always been quite fond of Catholicism’s fustiness, and the uncomfortable words of scripture are indeed quite a barrier to overcome. But I always thought that this was the point of Evangelism. Proves how little I know.