Pope Francis has allayed the fears of non-believers about making heaven or hell. The Pope in a long open letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stated that people do not need to know God to make heaven. He emphasized that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they remain steadfast to their consciences.
Scalfari, not a Roman Catholic, had compiled a list of questions in La Repubblica for the Pope to provide answers. Francis accordingly responded: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart.
“The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
The Vatican correspondent for the Catholic journal, The Tablet, Robert Mickens, also highlighted that the pontiff’s statements were demonstration of the Pope’s efforts to refine the Catholic Church’s fusty image, reinforced by his extremely conservative predecessor, Benedict XVI. Mickens remarked: “Francis is a still a conservative. But what this is all about is him seeking to have a more meaningful dialogue with the world.”
Scalfari acknowledging the Pope’s letter, stated that the Pope’s response showed “further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialogue with all”.
Francis had in July demonstrated a progressive stance on sexuality, emphasizing the supremacy of God over human life. He had said: “If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him?”