The Catholic Defender: The Pope And Atheists

Posted by John Benko - September 15th, 2013

This past week the Media and anti-Catholics tried once again to turn the Popes words against him.

Have you had anyone attack you because of their bias against the Church?

I was sent this message by an anti-Catholic thinking that he could shake my Catholic Faith: Ready to repent of this Satanist yet?

He went on to say, listen to his tone: The issue for atheists is following their conscience? That has nothing to do with forgiveness from God according to the Bible. Blatant false doctrine from a Jesuit enemy of God.”  Can you just feel the love of God flowing here?

Kirk Cameron, an actor who has strong Protestant faith was the first that I noticed making this frontal attack.  So, what is the whole business between Pope Francis and Atheists?

The Pope was responding to a question asked of him about Atheists and mercy, in which he responded, Given that — and this is the key point — God’s mercy has no limits, if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience” 

It really seems that everyone out there in the kingdom of never never land is always out to twist the Pope’s words.  It is like they are out there trying to trip him up to push their agendas.  We saw this problem recently on the question of faith and Homosexuals.  

Because the Progressive Liberals who have taken over the United States Government, they are on a full court press to push their political aims.  

The Catholic Church is the one bastion of hope that stands in their way.  So they are trying to take advantage using their power and prestige to place these issues into the public eye.

They are not that difficult to refute but the media has a power that takes perception and tries to make it reality.  

That is like a fox trying to catch the rabbit.  When the Lord is on the side of the rabbit, the fox is not going to catch it.

Notice the first thing the Pope said, “God’s mercy has no limits, if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart…” 

That is the key point coming from Pope Francis.  Notice the anti-Catholics attempt to gloss over the main point.

Lets take a look at what the Pope said about conscience.  As Christians, we are very aware that we can only rely on our conscience when it is an informed conscience.  This is why it is important for parents to teach their children the faith as they grow up.  It is to form an informed conscience.  

An unbeliever does not have such an informed conscience.  What is the apostolic teaching regarding unbelievers?  Roman 5:13 gives an important insight,  “Therefore, just as though one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law”. 

Does this mean that unbelievers are not bound by the law if they are not aware of it? God is a God of justice and will not condemn a soul.  At least, we are not to judge the outsiders or unbelievers in such a way.

St. Paul is clear writing, “But I now write to you not to associate with anyone named a brother, if he is immoral, greedy, an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard, or a robber, not even to eat with such a person.  For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5:11-13)

Clearly, the Priest in the Confessional acts in persona Christi and so does have the authority to forgive sins in Jesus Name.  This is the Ministry of Reconciliation established by Jesus Christ, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:23)

This understanding is what Pope Francis was speaking from about Atheists going by their conscience, which clearly is not an informed conscience.  But if the Atheist comes to understand the truth of the Catholic Faith and embrace it, their conscience would be the means the Holy Spirit will work.  

St. Paul can identify with this writing,I am grateful to him who has strengthened me,Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.  I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.  Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.  To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God, honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Note that St. Paul recognized the Lord’s mercy given to him.  Many Christians at the time of St. Paul’s conversion to the Catholic Faith were very suspicious.  It was not automatic for St. Paul getting the peoples acceptance, but it was God’s grace that changed the world though St. Paul.
Just as God shown St. Paul mercy which benefited the Church.  Likewise, God is seeking to reach others today shaping their consciences from being “good” to being saved through the mercy of God.
This is the basis of the Pope’s response to Scalfari’s question.  So, to all the liberal media and the anti-Catholics who are trying to feed their agendas twisting the Pope’s response, when you look at the statement, it stands on the 2,000 year apostolic tradition.

Pope Francis used the occasion to reach out to the Atheist showing that God’s mercy is extended to them with a sincere and repentant heart.

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