To answer your three questions. . . Print
By Pope Francis   
Friday, 13 September 2013

So I come to the three questions you put to me in the article of August 7. It seems to me that, in the first two, what is in your heart is to understand the attitude of the Church to those who don’t share faith in Jesus. First of all, you ask me if the God of Christians forgives one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith. Premise that – and it’s the fundamental thing – the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart; the question for one who doesn’t believe in God lies in obeying one’s conscience. Sin, also for those who don’t have faith, exists when one goes against one’s conscience. To listen to and to obey it means, in fact, to decide in face of what is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision pivots the goodness or malice of our action.
In the second place, you ask me if the thought, according to which no absolute exists and therefore not even an absolute truth but only a series of relative or subjective truths, is an error or a sin. To begin with, I will not speak, not even to one who believes, of “absolute” truth, in the sense that absolute is what is inconsistent, what is deprived of any relationship. Now truth, according to the Christian faith, is the love of God for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, truth is a relationship! So true is it that each one of us also takes up the truth and expresses it from him/herself: from his/her history and culture, from the situation in which he/she lives, etc. This doesn’t mean that truth is variable or subjective, quite the opposite. But is means that it is given to us always and only as a way and a life. Did not Jesus himself say: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life”? In other words, truth being altogether one with love, requires humility and openness to be sought, received and expressed. Therefore, it’s necessary to understand one another well on the terms and, perhaps, to come out of the tight spots of opposition … absolute, to pose the question again in depth. I think that this is today absolutely necessary to initiate that serene and constructive dialogue that I hoped for at the beginning of this my response. In the last question you ask me if, with the disappearance of man on earth, the thought will also disappear that is able to think of God. Certainly, man’s greatness lies in his being able to think of God. And that is in being able to live a conscious and responsible relationship with Him. However, the relationship is between two realities. God – this is my thought and this is my experience, but how many, yesterday and today, share it! – is not an idea, even though very lofty, fruit of man’s thought. God is reality with a capital “R.” Jesus reveals it – and lives the relationship with him – as a Father of goodness and infinite mercy. Hence, God doesn’t depend on our thought. Moreover, even when the life of man on earth should finish – and for the Christian faith, in any case, this world as we know it is destined to fail --, man won’t stop existing and, in a way that we don’t know, also the universe created with him. Scripture speaks of “new heavens and a new earth” and affirms that, in the end, in the where and when that is beyond us, but towards which, in faith, we tend with desire and expectation, God will be “all in all.” Egregious Doctor Scalfari, I thus conclude my reflections, aroused by what you wished to communicate to me and ask me. Receive it as the tentative and provisional but sincere and confident answer to the invitation to escort you in a segment of the road together. Believe me, the Church despite all the slowness, the infidelities, the errors and sins she could have committed and can still commit in those that accompany her, has no other sense or end but that of living and witnessing Jesus: He who was sent by Abba “to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim release to captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).
With fraternal closeness,


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