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Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Angler Fishes For Atheists

The Pope wrote a letter to an atheist that seems to have stirred up the secular press, and no few number of traditionalists. The full text of the letter can be found here.

It's a brilliant reply to an avowed atheist.
Francis doesn't begin by refuting the atheist, he begins by thanking the atheist for being willing to even discuss it. He follows by giving a personal witness of why the Faith matters to him. 

He then moves the conversation from a discussion of the points the atheist is concerned with to the central problem: Who is Jesus?

Only after he deals with this central question does he move to deal with the questions the atheist raises. The heart of the answer he gives the atheist lies in this section:

First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith. Given that - and this is fundamental - God's mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience. In fact, listening and obeying it, means deciding about what is perceived to be good or to be evil. The goodness or the wickedness of our behavior depends on this decision.
Second of all, you ask if the thought, according to which no absolute exists and therefore there is no absolute truth, but only a series of relative and subjective truths is a mistake or a sin. To start, I would not speak about, not even for those who believe, an "absolute" truth, in the sense that absolute is something detached, something lacking any relationship. Now, the truth is a relationship! This is so true that each of us sees the truth and expresses it, starting from oneself: from one's history and culture, from the situation in which one lives, etc. This does not mean that the truth is variable and subjective. It means that it is given to us only as a way and a life. Was it not Jesus himself who said: "I am the way, the truth, the life"? In other words, the truth is one with love, it requires humbleness and the willingness to be sought, listened to and expressed. Therefore we must understand the terms well and perhaps, in order to avoid the oversemplification of absolute contraposition, reformulate the question.
The Pope hits on precisely the problem: it is one of definition. In most cases, the atheist denies God because he misunderstands the meanings of the words being used in the conversation. Correct definitions, a correct understanding of exactly what is under discussion, is crucially important to see the crucis, the Cross.

And here the Pope merely repeats what the Church has always taught, what St. Paul wrote down in Romans 2:15, "Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another." It is also a fine explication of the essence of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1950-1960, especially #1956.

God is Truth. Those who seek the truth, those who doubt the existence of God because they are afraid of being fooled, seek the Idol of the Unknown Name that Paul describes in the Areopagus. They know not Christ's name, but they know the importance of truth, the critical importance of seeking out the truth. And, as the Church teaches, it is their relentless search for truth that may save them. 




1 comment:

Jim Dorchak said...

I am not very good at these arguments but if you do not accept Christ then the retort would seem to be who's truth?

If one follows ones conscience then would it not be best to follow an informed conscience? If not then stalin, hitler ,,,, could argue that they were just following their consiences, their understanding of truth (their absolute truth) and so by the Holy Fathers admission they were good men who were just misunderstood!

It seems to me that the Catholic Church has been trying very hard to marginalize itself for the past 40 years. If all the protestants, athiests, muslems, and sun worshipers are all right and have equal weight then why be Catholic?

Admittedly the Catholic Church is dying on the vine, quickly. The protestant churches etc have better parking, better after school programs, nicer buses ( we do not even have buses), a bigger play ground, and their churches are really cool with big stages and rock and roll music..........

I am hearing from the Holy Father that i no longer need to be catholic. HELL (and i mean it) i do not even need to believe in God ( or god as the holy father would say)!

The absolute truth is nice but it must be spoken by the ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH!

At least i think so? And therein lies the problem because if i am wrong then i have been lied to all my life. If i am right then all of the Catholic world, indeed the Christian world is being confused by the Holy Father.

Is there such thing as a papal recall?

Jim Dorchak