Pope Francis has stunned many a religious mind, by declaring that he's cool with atheists as long as they're good people.
Okay, he didn't say cool, but that was the gist of it.
During his homily at yesterday's mass in Rome, the Pope said atheists can be just as good as Catholics if they "do good."
He called on people of all religions - or no religion - to work together, saying the idea of "doing good" is something that unites all humanity.
Pope Francis made reference to a passage from the Gospel of Mark, and told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if atheists had been redeemed by Jesus.
"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us," the Pope quoted the priest as saying.
"But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good," the Catholic responded.
"Yes, he can... The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone!" the priest said.
"Father, the atheists?" the Catholic asked.
"Even the atheists. Everyone! We must meet one another doing good," the priest said.
It's an extraordinary move by Pope Francis, especially because he said it with such conviction.
Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote a great piece on all of this for Salon, saying...
"It likely doesn't matter much to the atheists of the world that -- of all people -- Pope Francis is on their side. But he is. And that's a cool thing for all of us."
She points out that Pope Francis' message is "vastly different from Catholicism's traditional "We're number one!" dogma" and goes on to write...
"The pope was not, of course, addressing the non-believers of the world in his Wednesday sermon, or trying to win them over. Instead, he was telling his Catholics about the importance of cutting outsiders slack. And it's a hugely important message for Christians to hear. It's not about being right. It's about being loving."
She closes with this: "It's not that faith, for the faithful, doesn't matter. It's that belonging to a church isn't what saves us. It's belonging to each other."
Catholic Online has taken the Pope's message even further with the headline 'Pope Francis says atheists can do good and go to heaven too!'
The Pope's homily during morning mass is a daily thing, where he speaks off the cuff with no prepared comments.
via The Guardian