Vatican caught in two minds over damnation

Pope Francis. Photo / AP With a new Pope in place, the Catholic Church is keen to portray itself as accepting, modern and relevant.

But a recent suggestion by Pope Francis that atheists could also be “redeemed” by God has led the Church to return to medieval rhetoric – with an official Vatican spokesman forced to clarify that non-believers are indeed destined for hell.

The controversy began after Pope Francis made an attempt to build bridges with atheists.

During a sermon at the Vatican, the first Latin American Pontiff proclaimed: “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!”

The admission that Catholics do not have a monopoly on being good people was initially welcomed by secularists.

“While humanists have been saying for years that one can be good without a god, hearing this from the leader of the Catholic Church is quite heartening,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.

But the mood of goodwill was short-lived.

Just a day later, in a thinly veiled rebuke of the new Pope, Vatican spokesman Father Thomas Rosica made it abundantly clear what was really meant.

In an “explanatory note on the meaning of salvation”, he stated that merely being “good” is not enough to avoid going to hell.

On the issue of “salvation” he remarked: “They cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her.”

The comments come as a reminder of the Catholic Church’s uncompromising views on matters of conscience and belief, following a series of rows about its opposition to more temporal issues such as same-sex relationships, abortion, and contraception.

Commentators questioned how the clarification issued by the Vatican fitted with the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.

Atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins tweeted: “Atheists go to heaven? Nope. Sorry world, infallible pope got it wrong. Vatican steps in with alacrity.”

And Sean Oakley, founder of the Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society at Reading University, said: “This latest episode is only another demonstration of how much influence the conservative lobby has within the Catholic Church.”

About The Voice Of Bombay's Catholic Laity

Bombay Laity Ezekiel’s Chapter 3 Task as Watchman 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[b] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.
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One Response to Vatican caught in two minds over damnation

  1. archie green says:

    You can’t be redeemed without a God no matter how good you are. “All good works necessary for salvation are in vain should you keep a single mortal sin in your soul.” Isn’t Godlessness already a mortal sin? 0r, can a good person who has no mortal sin be saved without a God? Please be serious. Pope Francis must have missed something. I thought he is infallible.

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