“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.”
That had a lot of the usuals freaking out, which was fun to watch:
I wonder what Holy Scriptures this pope has been reading? Try as I might, I can find nothing in the Scriptures, that indicates non-believers can go to heaven. This must be another of the many changes in Scriptures that the popes have been guilty of over the history of the Catholic church.
He wasn’t saying atheists are saved, says David Perry over at the Atlantic:
He is clearly open to the idea that Christ may well redeem even those who are non-believers. More fully articulated, that would open up a new wager, in which whether or not one believed, one’s actions in the world would determine one’s access to paradise.
Actually, he was saying something even better, which is fer fuck’s sake, don’t you have some poor people to get to feeding?
Wednesday’s Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from outside their group from doing good. “They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation.”
This isn’t about “access to paradise” at all, much less who has it and who doesn’t. It’s about the following:
1. The upstart church needed to tell people it had some kind of special hold on the very really really real truth, in order to attract followers and survive persecution. It needed to be able to give those mocking and threatening it the cosmic equivalent of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, like, sure, now you beat us and chase us from town to town and call us heretics, but we alone are going to heaven. The political implications of nascent doctrine, seen through the lens of the times in which the apostles lived, in other words, became Holy Writ.
2. Keeping track of who gets saved and who doesn’t like we’re scoring a golf match is actively interfering in our working together as human beings to make the world suck less right the hell now. Why am I worried about whether you’re an atheist, a Christian, a Muslim, and not worried about whether you’re fed, clothed, housed, cared for? Why am I checking membership cards at the door? Get past your bullshit, is what I hear in what the pope said. We all need to not be such total ASSHOLES all the time, and if you get there, you get there, and the rest of it will sort itself out or it won’t. Learn to prioritize.
He obviously has, at the very least, considered the atheist’s point of view: That we are not storing up riches in heaven, so let us go forth and not suck. And the latter is the most important part.
Now, if he just eases up on women, gay people, contraception, and throws Bernard Law into the dungeon YOU JUST KNOW THE VATICAN HAS DOWN THERE SOMEWHERE, he and I might be able to hang out.