Venerdì, 21 Settembre 2018
ROME

Pope says even non-believers eligible for God's mercy

English
© ANSA

(By Kate Carlisle)
Rome, September 11 - Pope Francis said that even
non-believers are eligible for God's mercy in a letter to the
founder of Italy's daily paper La Repubblica published on
Wednesday.
Francis, whose papacy is ever-more characterized by his
charismatic approach and no-bars-held style of communication,
was responding to an August 7 editorial on faith and secularism
by the paper's founder Eugenio Scalfari that asked "if the
Christian God forgives those who do not believe and do not seek
faith".
Scalfari's editorial last month posed the questions, "Does
God forgive non-believers? Does absolute truth exist? Is God
merely a creation of the human mind?".
In another series of pontifical 'firsts', Pope Francis
stepped up to the plate to answer Scalfari's questions directly
by taking pen to paper and writing a letter to La Repubblica.
The daily dedicated cover space and three inside pages to
the pope's letter that began with "Esteemed Dr. Scalfari, it is
with heartfelt appreciation that...I will try to answer your
letter that enriched the pages of this same newspaper with your
personal reflection".
Veteran commentator Scalfari wrote in an accompanying
editorial entitled 'Lost Sheep' that he had not expected the
pope to respond "so extensively and so affectionately with such
fraternal spirit".
"Perhaps it is because the lost sheep merits more attention
and assistance?," Scalfari wrote.
Francis wrote that "God's mercy has no limits, if you go to
him with a sincere and repentant heart. The key issue for
non-believers is that of "obeying their consciences" when faced
with choices of good or evil. Sin, even for those who have no
faith, is when one goes against their conscience.
"Thank you especially for the attention you dedicated to
reading Lumen Fidei," Francis wrote to Scalfari.
Pope Francis's first encyclical, which was co-written with
his predecessor Benedict XVI, "Lumen Fidei", was published in
July.
Lumen Fidei is directed towards not only those who are
believers in Jesus, but it also seeks to open a sincere dialogue
with "those like yourself who define themselves as non-believers
but for many years have been interested in and fascinated with
Jesus of Nazareth's teachings," the pope wrote to Scalfari.
"It was precisely....from my personal experience of faith
lived through the Church that I am comfortable listening to your
questions and ready to seek, together with you, the road along
which we can perhaps begin to walk together," Francis said.
The letter that the pope wrote is yet "further proof of his
ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialogue with all and
his search for peace, love and testimony," Scalfari wrote.
Italy's atheist association on Wednesday said that what
interested non-believers was the "concrete application of
dialogue and understanding" for much discussed social and
political issues.
"What interests non-believers is beyond the nice words and
declarations of intent, and is certainly not 'forgiveness' from
an entity whose existence we do not trust or presumed
salvation," the group said.
The group underlined that what they held as important,
instead, is "that representatives of those religious concepts
apply them".
Since assuming the papacy, the pope has written heartfelt
letters to world leaders like Vladimir Putin, personally
telephoned comfort-seekers like an Argentine rape victim and
reached out to embrace disenfranchised immigrants and impoverish
people in Italy and throughout his travels to date.

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