I was first turned on to this article--Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics--by a friend on Facebook. Okay, I'm intrigued. And yes, I know many would say, "you don't go to the Huffington Post for matters of theology, David!" and to that I can only respond with a chuckle and a quote from the original Greek text of 1 Obvious 3:8: "Duh." But you have to admit, that's a hook of a title that had me reading the article as I prepared for the day.
"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.”
Text from page of the Vatican Radio website
I encourage you to read the HuffPo article linked above and leave your thoughts here. What is Pope Francis saying to us in this message? What is the likelihood this message has to unify people of differing faith backgrounds, even those without any particular spirituality?
(paraphrased and edited for brevity & substance)
Mark: If you tell people they ain't really gotta get down with Catholicism.
Alicia: But doesn't that make you more interested in Catholicism?
Mark: No! I heard that and I was like, "Ah, s*@t, I'm good then--back to the strip club!"
Alicia: No, but, no, you have to do good acts and I think that's a lot harder to actually commit to in your daily life...
Mark: I don't know about that. I mean the argument against 21st Century religiosity has been that they want all the benefits of religious faith with none of the commitments, not having to go, not having to practice the faith in a certain way... they want everything and don't want to sacrifice anything...
Alicia: I think there a lot of Catholics like myself who grew up in the faith and were very much turned off by the fact that at every turn we were told that things that we do in our everyday life were going to send us to hell... this... lifts some of the burden of the structure of the church and says to me, "I can do this on my terms if I'm fundamental believer and I am being a good Christian, and that's enough.' ...
Mark: I think it's wrong. One more thing... So, there's orthodoxy, which says you have to believe certain
things and there's orthopraxis, which says that your faith is bound by what you do... he's shifting toward something like orthopraxic which will make people say, "I don't have to believe in the trinity," if you're a Christian that's a big deal to those people, "I don't have to believe, make certain decisions because I'm already saved." That kind of attitude, I think, is gonna move people out of the church, like, "I do go works, I don't have to go to church."
Alicia: I disagree.
The question at the heart of this firestorm of controversy is what Pope Francis is actually saying. Is he saying that salvation rests on everyone, no matter their beliefs, or is he just saying that everyone is covered under Christ's redemptive work on the cross (should they choose to respond) and, therefore, bear within themselves the duty to do good, that place of commonality in which we can all be unified? I imagine people can draw from his words whatever conclusion they like, just as we do with scripture, and just as the Huffington Post article did.
What is your conclusion? What do you believe Jesus was saying in Mark 9? What do you believe Pope Francis was saying about Mark 9? Do you agree with Mark or Alicia? Why?