Pope Francis, Atheists, and Salvation

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atheism, pope francis, Popeinary, salvation,

Atheism and salvation…two words you’d not expect to be together, right?

In case you missed the buzz awhile back, Pope Francis was holding daily mass in St. Martha’s house. Inspired by a passage in the Gospel of Mark – said, “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! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class. 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.” (source: NPR)

Seconds after this message, the world’s channels were abuzz with messages that even atheists – as long as they do good – are saved. Even the Methodists had things to say:

It is through belief, not doings. But is that really what Pope Francis meant? After all, it is through our acceptance of Christ as our savior and not through the works we do so that, upon death, we will be saved (Matthew 24:13). Father Thomas Rosica, a spokesman for the Vatican, clarified Pope Francis’s statement that “people who know the Catholic Church cannot be saved if they refuse to enter or remain in her.”

Evangelization begins with finding a common ground. I see this as yet another example of and insight into how Pope Francis shares his message and evangelizes his faith. The message is that by doing good, we are each acting as the person Christ wants us to be. By doing and being good, it creates a common thread between Catholics and non-Catholics, Christians and non-Christians, people of faith and those not…and perhaps leads to another door that can be opened and shared between the two groups. I also think that when he said “We will meet one another there” he was referring to “there” as that common ground, and not necessarily “there” being heaven (personal opinion).

Pope Francis, in countless ways, shows that the message of the Church must be brought to people OUTSIDE the church and that people should be invited and welcomed! He is working to creating a common ground and a comfortable place so open dialogues can happen across groups who hold different sets of beliefs.

I can’t help but get excited when I hear messages like this! This has been but one of the many comments of his that has garnered so much dialogue outside the Church and his open, honest, clean-cut nature is so refreshing. Much like he is always open for dialogue, we need to continually strive to find that common ground and set the stage for open dialogue about our faith, too. I have a feeling we’ll be exploring some wonderful topics in our Popeinary in the months – and years – to come!

Copyright 2013 Jen Frost

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