That new loose cannon in the Vatican, Pope Francis, has been poping off on subjects the Catholic Church would rather him either hew to the party line or be silent about. One of them is atheists, and specifically an atheist’s prospects for salvation. In May, Francis the mulish talker insisted that even non-believers could be saved.
In a homily broadcast on Vatican Radio, the Pope delivered the Bad News: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! Even the atheists! Everyone!”
Following this bombshell, a Vatican spin doctor, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, was left scrambling to come up with a softer interpretation of his boss’s words.
“Always keep in mind the audience and context,” Rosica said. “His words are not spoken in the context of a theological faculty or academy nor in interreligious dialogue or debate.” In other words, he’s talking to the people, not a bunch of stiffs.
But atheists in Heaven? Say it ain’t so, Po. Let’s hope the pontiff is fallible on this one. Surely Christians don’t long to harangue us even after death? If so, then please just leave us to Hell. There, at least, we might be able to blend in.
Imagine life for us up above, having to slink around, hoping that God doesn’t notice us. Then the day that He calls us on the carpet.
“Gee, I never would have thought,” we’ll squeak. “All the evidence pointed against it.”
Although ignorance might be a good excuse, if something that Rosica said holds true. He pointed out that the church teaches that “those who no fault of their own” don’t know about Jesus but seek God, can earn eternal life. Maybe in the mansion’s basement or in public housing. All we’ll have to say is, “Where you been, God? I’ve been looking all over the place for you.”