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Does God forgive non-believers? Does absolute truth exist? And is God merely a creation of the human mind?
In a lengthy letter to the former editor of the Italian daily ‘La Repubblica’, Eugenio Scalfari, Pope Francis shares reflections on these three questions and urges all non-believers to engage with Christians in an open and sincere conversation.
In the letter published on Wednesday, the Pope laments the impasse that has grown up over the centuries with those who see Christianity as ‘dark and superstitious,’ in opposition to the ‘light of reason’.
Quoting from the recent encyclical ‘Lumen Fidei’, the Pope stresses that, on the contrary, faith must never be intransigent or arrogant, but rather humble and able to grow in relationship with others.
Responding to the three questions posed by the Italian journalist and writer, the Pope says the key issue for non-believers is that of “obeying their consciences” when faced with choices of good or evil. God’s mercy, he stresses, “has no limits” for those who seek him with a sincere and contrite heart.
Reflecting on the question of absolute truth, Pope Francis says he prefers to describe the truth in terms of a dynamic relationship between each Christian and Jesus, who said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. The truth of God’s love, the Pope insists, is not subjective, but it is only experienced and expressed as a journey, a living relationship with each one of us, in our different social and cultural contexts.
Thirdly, Pope Francis considers the question of God as a creation of the human mind, who will thus disappear when human beings cease to exist on earth. In my experience, he says - and in that of so many other Christians past and present – God is not merely an idea but is a “Reality” of infinite goodness and mercy, revealed to us through his son, Jesus of Nazareth.
Reflecting on the originality of the Christian faith in relations to other religions, the Pope stresses the role of Jesus who renders us all sons and daughters of God, therefore also brothers and sisters to each other. Our arduous task, he says, is that of communicating God’s love to all, not in a superior way, but rather through service to all people especially those on the margins of our societies.
Finally the Pope spoke of his deep respect and friendship for people of Jewish faith – especially those with whom he worked so closely in his native Argentina. Reflecting on the terrible experience of the Shoah, he said, we can never be grateful enough to the Jews who maintained their faith in God, thus teaching us too to remain always open to his infinite love.
Vatican Radio (Sep. 11, 2013)
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