Pope Francis: atheists who follow their consciences (might) be welcome in Heaven


#1

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#2

I view it as another small marker on the human journey of reconciliation with objective reality. One day, probably hundreds of years from now, the world will awaken and see all the idol worship for what it is. …And religion will dissolve. It will take a long time, though.


#3

Surely Cory can discern which actions are conscientious and which fear-based… Although if he genuinely struggles with it, it might explain certain things :stuck_out_tongue:


#4

What about violent anti-abortion activists? From their point of view, they’re just taking a principled utilitarian stand on the trolley problem.


#5

So the atheist side of me is good? What about the gay side? He still lobbying countries about refusing marriage to gay couples? Or how about the trans side of me? He did deny godparent status to a transgender man straight up.


#6

It’s not about whether he can, it’s whether politicians can, and the answer to that seems to be “no.” And they’d characterize it not as an act of fear but one of “protection.”


#7

This is directed to people like my family. I used to be a Catholic, and my family still is. I haven’t told them that I’m an atheist, because I don’t want them to freak out and constantly pester me to ‘return to the church’. The Pope’s open letter makes it possible for me to finally be honest with my family.

I left the church because I think it is deeply immoral. The decades of enabling child rape by priests, the perpetuation of poverty by denying women the right to limit how many children they have, and the previous Pope’s anti-condom stance, enabling the spread of AIDS in Africa, are all against my conscience. I cannot be a member of a church that does these things.


#8

I’m not sure you’re not reading more into it than is really there - after all, Francis still claims you have to “go to God with a sincere and contrite heart.” How do you do that if you don’t believe in God? It rather sounds like an assurance to believers of other doctrines.

Never the less, I strongly appreciate the the effort to smooth the edges of the traditional Christian approach “We are the only ones who have the keys, suck it you much older and more sophisticated spiritual traditions.”


#9

This seems to me to be an attempt by organized religion to remain relevant, in a culture that increasingly has abandoned organized religion.

Although I am an atheist, I do believe in an afterlife, I call it “being dead”.


#10

A good example, yes. I still find desire to exert control over another individual (in the name of a “righteous” cause, no less) is as incompatible with a well developed, functioning conscience as fear, though I don’t expect many to agree.


#11

Since he’s referring to the afterlife, contrition is presumed to naturally arise from being presented, post-mortem, with irrefutable proof :smiley:


#12

The Church has a giant problem with sex, in general. And since gay people only have (and can ~only have) sex “for fun” without the thin excuse of marital reproduction, they feel they have to fight the social acceptance of gay relationships tooth and nail, because to them that is another step in the direction of unbridled hedonism.


#13

This is not a particularly new doctrine, actually. Look up “invincible error.”


#14

My favorite retort to this line of reasoning would be to call them blasphemers, since they in effect tarnish and diminish God by presenting him* as an entity to feared, instead of loved, and idolators, since this implies a concrete and very human image of God as a ruler - in violation of the commandment not to create specific images of him (and contrary to what Aquinas concluded about apophatism). But what can you do. That’s just the way Christians roll.

*I really don’t think God has a penis or testicles, but for want of a better pronoun…


#15

chuckles

So, if you are an atheist, this isn’t going to matter anyway.
But, if you are a Christian, your belief no longer matters as a prerequisite for entry to Heaven.


#16

God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart.

That’s not much of a loophole, given human nature being what it is.


#17


#18

Keep in mind that it would probably be an article of faith with the Pope that the conscience comes from God whether you believe in him or not, so the proposition of a conscience that truly directs you astray is moot.


#19

But perhaps you might find that opening up after the new Pope’s “atheist Glasnost” will provoke the same reaction as before: pestering. Might be best to still keep it under your hat.


#20

Honestly, I’m fine with annihilation, if it’s all the same with the pope and his god.