Atheists Can Be Redeemed- Pope Francis

The first Argentinian Pope is surely breaking the stereotype.

Pope Francis, during his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome declared that atheists, just like Catholics can also be saved through Jesus Christ.

pope

Here is an excerpt of the news from Huffington Post.

huffington

Well, what can I say? I am happy that the new Pope is trying his best to be more flexible and broad-minded when it comes to these sensitive topics especially right now that the Catholic Church is facing tough times as more and more people question the people behind the institution following the growing numbers of Catholic sex abuse cases.

It seems that the new Pope is working on regaining the trust of people who turned their back on the Catholic Church. His remarkable retort on the issue of atheism is quite a dissimilitude to the perspective of his predecessor, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI who occasionally raised eyebrows because of his strict views on secularism and homosexuality.

Actually, it is not a secret that a lot of famous people in history from the fields of the sciences to show business are in fact, atheists themselves. Popular names such as Thomas Edison, Woody Allen, Helen Keller, Billy Joe Armstrong, Keira Knightley and Kim Jong Il (Surprise! 🙂 ) are included in the long list. To me, being atheist doesn’t make you a bad person, contrary to the majority’s perception, unless of course they cheat, steal or adulterate which are things that would make anyone a bad person regardless of one’s religious beliefs. Atheists are also humans who deserve respect and understanding just like any other regular person we know. Saying that atheists are immoral people is the same as saying all Catholics are holy people and will all go to heaven which is definitely not true.

I know a lot of people who are ultra-religious and by that word I mean they go to church on a regular basis, they go to confessions as frequently as possible and they pray the rosary a lot but ironically most of these people only care about themselves, rarely giving a hand to others when in need and worse, gossiping with rumormongers. I am a Catholic and I admit that I frequently sin, just like anybody else. It’s natural as every person is born with concupiscence which is one’s inclination to sin. I make it a point that I go to confession whenever possible which is not always a problem since we have a chapel complete with hardworking priests in our school.

I always strive to be accepting and open-minded in dealing with other people’s beliefs even when they differ from mine or from my religion.

What bugs me are the people who think that they are better than everyone else just because they always go to confession or they always go to mass even though their attitudes are far from their religious fervor which is only activated once they’re inside the church.

I think the Philippine society today is not that different from the one Rizal described in his anticlerical novel “Noli Me Tangere” where Filipinos’ illiteracy and ignorance, mixed with their colonial mentality, religious hypocrisy and blind faith didn’t do any them any favor, thus only impeding their progress as a people.

Abortifacients being sold near the Quiapo church.

Abortifacients being sold near the Quiapo church.

Nothing really tremendous has changed since the publication date of his novel some 126 years ago. We still have those social climbers who would do anything just to sound and look like a Western to fit in the majority’s skewed perception of beauty. The only difference is that most of them are now in show business and politics, some even considered as role models of this generation because of their physical appearance. *Sigh.

We are still that same overtly religious, holier than thou country (although the Philippines wasn’t yet a country back then) where corruption and inequality still manages to thrive in the government, schools and even in the smallest political units.

The elites and the rich are the ones who control much of the country.

Wouldn’t you agree if I say that obnoxious and hypocritical people like Padre Damaso and Padre Salvi still manage to exist until this day? The major difference is that most of them are not just priests; they are also the people we meet every Sunday in the church or we rub elbows with in the market or we see strolling in the malls. Hypocrisy has managed to impair everyone, from the people you thought will never sin to the people you regularly meet in the streets.

Oh yes, we are a country who boasts itself as the only Catholic country Asia. (Doesn’t Timor Leste exist? 🙂 ) But we are also a country of world-renowned brothels, beer houses, sex-themed movies and heinous crimes. We are a country where people regard religion as a fad, a mask to cover our decaying souls or a tool to make one believe that he or she will go to heaven no matter how sinful he or she is.

I would just like to say that I am a proud Catholic myself but I know that my beliefs don’t make me a better person than anyone else in the world. Like what our priest said in his homily last week, my attendance in mass is not synonymous to me being holy. Yes, attending mass is important (It’s a must for us Catholics!) but what we do after the mass is more important. What we do after praying and confessing is what matters the most. We can’t just be good to God himself; we need to be good to everyone else. Sure, one may have memorized all the verses in the bible or the Koran or any other religious text but that will remain useless if one does not translate good words into good deeds.

Like Pope Francis, I also believe that “doing good” as a principle unites all humanity.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more atheists than Catholics in Heaven.

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About erwinagapay

A music and movie lover, aspiring author and filmmaker, and a junior student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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