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 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.”
Robert Mickens, the Vatican correspondent for the Catholic journal The Tablet, said the pontiff’s comments were further evidence of his attempts to shake off the Catholic Church’s fusty image, reinforced by his extremely conservative predecessor Benedict XVI. “Francis is a still a conservative,” said Mr Mickens. “But what this is all about is him seeking to have a more meaningful dialogue with the world.”In a welcoming response to the letter, Mr Scalfari said the Pope’s comments were “further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialogue with all”.
In July, Francis signaled a more progressive attitude on sexuality, asking: “If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him?”My opinion: I’ve been patiently waiting to resume writing the second book of my trilogy, based upon uncertainty of the new Pope’s ambitions. Frankly, I couldn’t understand if he was going to unify the world into a new religion, or fight against the New World Order.
9.13.2013 Update: Are there "Good" Diaspora Jews and "Bad" Zionist Jews? No! The Pope is wrong.
The Pope Separates Jews From Israelis
Update 9.20.2013: Pope Warns Church Must Find Balance or Fall 'Like House of Cards'
19 Sep 19, 2013
Pope Francis said the Catholic Church should not allow its bans on gay marriage, abortion and contraception to dominate its teachings, but must be a more welcoming Church where priests are understanding pastors and not cold, dogmatic bureaucrats.In a dramatically blunt interview with Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit monthly, Francis said the Church had locked itself up in "small things, in small-minded rules". It must find a new balance between upholding rules and demonstrating mercy, "otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards..."