There’s some chatter abroad about a recent letter Pope Francis wrote to Eugenio Scalfari, founder of La Repubblica; the bulk of it revolves around these four sentences:
“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.Let’s take a look at them one at a time.
"Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
1 - “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith.
This is a fundamental question: can non-believers who don’t seek belief receive God’s forgiveness? This question brings up an even more fundamental question: why would one who does not believe in God, and who therefore doesn’t bother seeking Him, ever ask Him for forgiveness? That person would, in their own mind, find that a waste of time, wouldn’t they?
2 - 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 moment you go to God with a sincere and contrite heart you have dispensed with the non-seeking aspect of your former life; that was driven by belief, because if you hadn’t believed, you would not seek, would you? So here, it seems, Pope Francis is talking about two totally-opposite types of person.
3 - The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
The apostle Paul writes frequently about the conscience. He makes it plain that an unseared, undamaged conscience is a good guide, whereas a seared or broken conscience is a poor guide. Would the Pope consider it a sin if a non-believer’s conscience deemed partial-birth abortion, assisted suicide, or genocide as acceptable practices? If someone with that type of seared conscience obeyed it, performing the acts I outlined above, would that person not be guilty – at least in a civil, earthly sense – of committing murder? The court called Kermit Gosnell a murderer; it called Jack Kevorkian a murderer; society in general has called Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and other non-believers murderers. Would the Pope say God would call them murderers as well? Why, since they were obeying their consciences at the time?
4 - “Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
This last sentence, in my opinion, secures what I just wrote: for the Pope, non-believers are sinful only when they disobey their consciences. If their consciences tell them it’s acceptable to slide a scissors into the brain of a newborn, or inject poison into the veins of an elderly person, or to slaughter millions upon millions of ‘inferior creatures’ such as Jews, Poles, and non-Communist peasants, and the perpetrator doesn’t do it, according to the Pope’s words, those people have sinned.
Obviously, these four sentences are substantially conflicting – the first two of each other, the second two of the clear teachings of Scripture.
I know newspapers, particularly since Pope Francis’ ascension to the Papacy, have selectively quoted him, as they’ve done to past Popes; this may be another instance of that. If not, then, IMHO, the Pope has erred in making these statements.
(hat tip Right Truth)