Pope Francis continued down the road of awesomeness this weekend with an especially existentialist statement regarding non-believers in his papal homily this Sunday:
He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus.
“Even them, everyone,” the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. “We all have the duty to do good,” he said.
“Just do good, and we’ll find a meeting point,” the pope said in a hypothetical conversation in which someone told a priest: “But I don’t believe. I’m an atheist.”
Now, some atheists may take offense at the idea of someone saying they’ve been redeemed by Jesus. I don’t, because I think that a statement like that is coming from a good place in someone’s heart. At least when it’s put this way. It’s certainly more preferable than someone openly stating that they hope you burn for all eternity. Pope Francis seems like a genuinely kind person, and I am happy to take a kindness in the spirit in which it was given.
I’ve always been a big believer in the idea of “existence precedes essence”– that what you actually do is far more important that an intangible thing like “who you are deep down.” This seems to be what the Pope is saying, and I think that’s pretty freaking cool of him. Personally, I care a lot more about how people act and what they do than I care about what they happen to believe in.
Although a lot of people are very surprised at the Pope’s attitude–particularly given the attitude of his predecessor–I’m really not. His attitude is far more representative of the attitude of most of the Catholics I’ve known in my life, particularly those affiliated with the Catholic Worker movement.