In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences. Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, 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
Comments: All people who live good lives can go to heaven. That is what I was taught by the nuns. God loves all his creations. Jesus died for them and we should not discount God´s mercy
The nuns taught me, over and over, that Catholicism was the "One True Faith". They were very concerned that my sister, stillborn, was baptized, so her soul would go to Heaven. Eating meat on Friday back then was enough to doom one to eternal hell. Something very disconcerting about having 2 living Popes, and one who appears to be coming out of left field.
do all go to paradise when we die? yes..we go back to where we came from...that does not mean we dont get our judgements we earned..even unbelievers...he is correct on that..however,it sure looks like ann barnhardt has hit the nail on the head with her observations of this pope..should be interesting reading on her site in the next couple of days...p.s..i am not catholic..i am nothing..i just study the bible so what do i know really?
It is true that no one gets into heaven without Jesus because until He sacrificed his life and died on the cross, heaven was closed to us. He did not say you have to believe in Him. We can go to heaven if we live our lives like He preached. The Pope is correct and this dogma is the difference between and other Christian sects. The church has always been liberal in the old sense of the word. It does not mean it is left wing.
Pope Francis: “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.
´Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.´”
Apostle Paul: "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another" ~Rom 2:14-15
I read the article carefully and read his quotes. If quoted correctly, he is right about the following only:
“If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him?”
The Pope is right. Human beings cannot decide who will go to heaven. They cannot judge (in the judicial way God judges) their fellow man, so he´s right: He cannot "judge" anyone.
However, telling atheists that they will go to heaven without a belief in Jesus Christ is not biblical, so I am rather shocked he would say such a thing.
I am equally non-plussed at those who say that if people are "good" they will go to heaven. That is anti-biblical. Now, if someone wants to disregard the Bible, the inspired Word of God, they are certainly free to do so. The concept of "good" people going to heaven on their own merit is not Christian and is not biblical.
The Bible is quite clear that those who do not believe in Christ and obey His commands, those who do not surrender their lives to His, cannot go to heaven.
Biblical Christians such as the Pope claims to be cannot say that atheists will go to heaven simply by repenting; belief in Christ is the one and only path to heaven. I´m surprised at the Pope, assuming he was quoted correctly.
Just before he said that the issue for those who do not believe in God is for them to obey their conscience he said something that sounds contradictory to that, "...God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart." How do those who do not believe in God go to Him with a sincere and contrite heart, since they are unwilling to go to Him at all?
I will wait until I hear more about what he is saying before I claim to understand his teaching on this matter.
Reply 20 - Posted by:
J F Ackerman, 9/12/2013 9:18:04 AM (No. 9517357)
Thank you, #1. This Pope belongs over there with the new Archbishop of Canterbury... the one who doesn´t believe in God and prefers politics to reading a Bible. There is only one way to the Father... atheists must repent and accept the Lord Jesus as their Saviour before they can enter the Kingdom... same for you.
The idiots in the media trot this stuff out every time there is a new Pope. Of course God might mercifully forgive anyone - that has always been explicitly taught. But then again He might not and that is the biggest, stupidest risk anyone can ever take.
The gem about following your conscience also does not mean doing whatever you want as long as you can persuade yourself it is OK.
The title of the article is misleading. I don´t see those words at all in the Pope´s statements. However, he shouldn´t be promoting God´s mercy without also explaining God´s judgment and holiness. We can not enter heaven by our good works. If that were so, Jesus wouldn´t have had to take on our sins and die on the cross. God demands a blood sacrifice for our sins and Jesus, God´s only Son, was that ultimate blood sacrifice. If you believe in Him, you will be saved. As Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Those who reject Jesus as God´s only Son, will not enter heaven. Jesus said so and I believe Him. He stands at the door and knocks...
Francis´s foolish statements about war have caused me to question his judgement on other threads. However, he appears to be increasingly unreliable on other issues as well. I came of age in the heroic era of John Paul II, when the Pope said courageous and truthful things to a world that desperately needed courage and truth.
I am so comfortable in my faith and in my church and in my baptism. I know I will fall short, but I will have the Grace of Christ to make up what I lack--in the meantime, I will do all I can to be a righteous follower.
The Pope most certainly did not assure atheists they would go to heaven. At least not in this article. The headline is misleading if not an outright lie. I think we need the rest of the story. There is no link to the "long, open letter" but I´m going to try to find it before I jump to conclusions.
If anyone has truly and completely always followed their conscience they need no savior. However, no one has done so save the savior alone. Maybe that is something like what the Pope had in mind here. His words would and should convict everyone because all have sinned even if the definition is obeying your conscience.
If he really said this, he is wrong. No sin is too big for God´s forgiveness, but that doesn´t mean there isn´t a penalty to be paid. It was paid when Jesus died on the cross. How will non-believers have their penalty paid?
Agree with comment #28 and all the comments after it.
The headline is misleading and the media is always trying to cause controversy to divide Christians.
Remember, Paul says not to judge those outside of the Church; we are to judge our brothers and sisters in Christ. God will take care of judging/forgiving those outside the Church. If someone has never heard of Christ, his conscience and heart have God´s laws written inside. And only God knows who is going to heaven and who isn´t.
Read the Pope´s actual words before you condemn. Also, I agree with the previous comment about the first pope, Peter, who knows more than one way to fish for Christ. So does St. Paul.
"John 14:6: Jesus answered, ´I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.´"
Correct, but if you look at the wedding guest parable, the ten virgins parable, thw narrow door, and so on that what it all boils down to is that Jesus gets to decide who is or isn´t saved and he controls the door. It´s no simply a matter of following some rules, doing some rituals, or even simply faith alone that will save you. What will save you is Jesus choosing to let you in and what will damn you is Jesus closing the door on you and I´m not sure that any of us can reliably predict who will or won´t be let in.
Remember this guy heads up the outfit that presided over the various ´Councils´ (Trent, Nicea and others) where the Catholic Clergy decided which books would be allowed in the "Bible". So the Catholics don´t feel too pressed to be literal interpreters or strict constructionists.
Pope Francis has a little bit to learn about modern journalists. They will take your words and use these words to THEIR own advantage!
Only one thing is for certain (to Roman Catholics)--the Pope, when speaking in matters of FAITH and MORALS, is infallible.
Papa Francesco---you may drive an old car, forego the opulence of the papal apartments, even question the validity of priestly celebacy (for all these are of the mundane)--but, it might be a better idea to discuss matters of faith and morals in a more traditional and scholarly venue such as an encyclica. Leave the explanation of the matter at hand to the teachers.
Whimsical thought... Wouldn´t it be ironic if atheists did go to heaven but it turned out to be hell for them because it meant having to spend eternity with Someone they so thoroughly despised and rejected? Embraced forever by unwanted love AND having to admit they were wrong -- talk about torment!
Wanted to add that I grew up in a "severely" conservative Church of Christ, very strict and very fundamentalist, and am now Catholic so I understand some of the sentiments here.
It was eye-opening for me to read early church history, the early church fathers, the encyclicals, the saints and I understand the Bible a bit better now, there are many "aha, that´s what that verse means, and it wasn´t what my minister at a protestant church that was formed only a couple hundred years ago told me it means!" moments. Grace.
Good grief even the Pope has become a progressive! Why then go to the Catholic Church or any church for that matter? Apparently it doesn´t make any difference could save a Catholic a lot of money no need to tithe either then./s
People must admit they are sinners, believe that Jesus died to atone for those sins and confess to man that they believe in order to live eternally in the presence of God, which is what Heaven is. If you don´t do that you´re not going.
Makes sense to me. Suppose some guy cheats on his wife, steals from his job, is an alcoholic, doesn´t provide for his children, cusses, curses and takes the Lord´s name in vain, gets in fights and hurts people, hardly ever attends church but does believe in God and from time to time he goes to confession, admits all his sins, does the requisite Jesus, Joseph, Mary and Hail Marys and gets absolved of his sins. While I on the other hand do none of the above but in fact live an exemplary life, give to charities, help the poor, am good to my family and fellow man but am a bit skeptical as to the existence of God at least the God portrayed in most Christian religions. Then we both die on the same day, him just after confession and having been blessed by a priest. Can anyone maintain that when we get to the gates of Heaven God is going to say to him, come on in and to me go to Hell? If he does he´s a very small God.
Why is everyone basing their eternity and discussion one liners from the press or the Evangelists and Scribes, usually taken out of context. If you want to know what the Church is teaching very simply go to: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catechism/catechism-of-the-catholic-church/epub/index.cfm
There is an alphabetical index on the left side of the page. Why quote based on memory or (mis-) understanding. Oh and when quoting the Bible, the books of both the Old and New Testament were collected and reviewed by the Church over the first few hundred years of the Church´s existence. Sadly, too many English speakers over the past few hundred years heave picked up a French cookbook written in French, printed in France and using ingredients only grown in France and while holding the book they don´t understand claim to be French Chefs. Some even wear the big white puffy hats, apron and hound-tooth patterned pants.
#56-doing all of those things (the Hail Mary´s,etc.) won´t wash away your hypothetical man´s sins. If he had truly repented before God and accepted Jesus´ sacrifice, he would have tried to live a better life. "By their fruits, ye shall know them." But no one is perfect. Christians sin and so does everyone else. What will non-believers do to absolve themselves of their sins before God?
Sorry for the double post. But, yes, #44, you and everyone can know the mind of God by reading the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, every word is "God-breathed". God wants you to know Him personally and His words, thoughts and commands for His children are there for all to see and understand.
Yes, Jesus "controls the door" and yes, God decides who is and who isn´t saved. God ISN´T bound by any man´s words, but He IS bound by His OWN! God said, "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" Mark 16:16. The question is, do you believe God or man?
I have to admit His Holiness has me confused on this one. Wasn´t Hitler acting in accordance with his sincerely held beliefs and according to his conscience? didn´t Stalin do the same? Didn´t Mao do the same?
With absolutely no offense intended towards my Catholic brethren (being a former catholic myself), it´s not so surprising that this rather progressive pope makes this type of statement. There are 78 verses in the Bible that specifically warn the faithful of accepting false teachings. Pope Francis assuring atheists they don´t have to believe in God to go to heaven would certainly qualify as a false teaching.
My apologies for a second post but I sent this article to a friend, a theologian in the Catholic Church. Here is her reply, with her permission, for those interested:
Here it is in a nutshell:
1. There is a divine law and a human law. Those who know God are bound by both, those who do not know God know only the human law, which is written on every human heart. That is why people who have properly formed consciences KNOW without a doubt that murder is wrong, theft is wrong, homosexuality is wrong.
2. Those who do not know God and have improperly formed consciences are still obliged to form their consciences, though it is harder to do.
3. The fact that people can be saved outside of knowing God does not mean that all unbelievers (those who deny God, persist in refusal to know God, and those who do not desire Truth or Moral Perfection) will have that chance. To persist in sin or refuse to know God, or to deny Him, separates one from Him.
4. An unbeliever who can be saved is one who, not through any fault of his own, does not know God, and who does his very best to do good, live a moral life, and respond to the promptings of his conscience. By doing those things he serves God even though he does not know Him.
I like Walker Percy´s answer to atheism/humanism (Questions They Never Asked Me: Walker Percy interviews Walker Percy)
"It’s not good enough. This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less. I don’t see why anyone should settle for less than Jacob, who actually grabbed aholt of God and would not let go until God identified himself and blessed him."
Assuming that the Pope wasn´t fully misquoted, he basically just negated the entire purpose for Christ´s death and resurrection. The reason Jesus was born and died was to cover the sins of mankind with His blood before God--making a pathway to the Father through His sacrifice on the cross. This is why when He died on the cross, said ´It is Finished´ and gave up His spirit, the veil separating mankind from God in the temple was torn in two (Luke 23:45). If there are other ways to go to heaven, why did Jesus have to die on the cross--what purpose did it serve? Major heretical teaching by the Pope (assuming there wasn´t a misquote) as he just vitiated the entire purpose of Christ and the New Testament.
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