(Rome) Pope Francis has written a letter to the former chief editor of the left-liberal daily La Repubblica and leading Italian journalist, Eugenio Scalfari. Scalfari, who comes from an old Masonic family, co-founded the Radical Party , is an atheist, a vociferous opponent of the Church, senator for life and one of the principal propagandists of Italian referendums of the 70s with which divorce and abortion were legalized. The initiative of the Pope is therefore exceptional, in need of explanation and partially controversial.
Statements like the enthusiastic media reports have made easily digested conclusions on their own. So even wrote about the Italian Catholic daily Avvenire: "'God forgives, who follows his own conscience.' Pope Francis wrotes in a letter to the newspaper Repubblica, in response to two articles by Eugenio Scalfari that were published on the 7th of July and 7th of August. The Pope responded in a letter to two key issues that had Scalfari raised: 'it seems to me that it is on your mind, to understand the position of the Church to those who do not share faith of Jesus. Above all, you wonder if the Christian God forgives those who don't believe, and don't seek the faith. It is said that, and this is fundamental, that the mercy of God knows no bounds. The question for those who do not believe in God, is in obedience to their conscience. The sin exists also for the one who has no faith, if you act against your conscience."
New healing formula: God will save the atheists who follow their conscience?
The statement may not be so wrong, and really left uncontested, fits. But what does not fit, is the unspoken, but the logical conclusion: There is no need to turn to Christ, it is sufficient that one follows his private conscience. And now you can even invoke a pope. Yes, the Pope says it himself.
Thus, the saving act of Christ on the cross is diminished, if not meaningless, which should change and determine the whole life of the people and should really be proclaimed by the Church to all people. Here, the papal letter to Scalfari contains many bright moments on the relationship with Christ, which completely recalls Pope Benedict XVI. The relativization of conversion as a requirement for salvation is strange to the German Pope, however, strange and rather reminiscent of the new Bergoglio style that appeals to the media like that. The media reactions speak for themselves.
The new salvation formula is: God will save the atheists who follow their conscience? Because Christ doesn't play a role.
On Wednesday morning, the Pope said, but in his short sermon, the message of St. Paul was: "Christ is all," he is the wholeness and hope, "because He is the bridegroom, the victor".
And in the Wednesday audience with the Pope, he said: "In baptism, we are born of the Church as God's children." And urged the faithful to be "fruitful" so that the faith as "the light of Christ reaches all the ends of the earth."
Not a contradiction?
Etymological correctness with danger of a misunderstanding - that occurred promptly
Another point of the Pope's letter was picked up by various media with satisfaction: The Pope is supposed to have written to Scalfari that there is no "absolute truth". This is *not* what the Pope wrote. However, the formulation used by the Pope gave rise to misunderstandings, the wich La Repubblica immediately exploited to portray the Pope himself as a proponent of relativism. The question of whether there is an absolute truth or not, is central to the Christian faith.
"Absolute" is most often used as a synonym for definitely non-negotiable objective and incomparable. Francis Pope clarified in the letter to Scalfari however, that he is correct in his etymological meaning, which comes from Latin, used in the statement that "the truth is not absolute".
The term "absolute" is derived from the Latin verb absolve from, absolvere, which is composed of the preposition ab (from) and is composed from the verb solvo (loosen), when put together the past participle is conjugated as solutus, and is a passive form. Absolutus thus means "detached, loosed from". The Latin verb solvo refers not only to a physical separation but is also in the context of a relationship, such as is understood by Nuova Bussola Quotidiana. [Catholic Daily with Vittorio Messori and Andrea Tornielli] This makes that passage in the Pope's letter to Scalfari more understandable:
I would not even begin to speak of an "absolute truth" with those who believe, in the sense that this absolute is what is loosed, what is without that relationship. The truth, according to Christian faith is but God's love for us in Jesus Christ. Therefore, the truth is a relationship! [Note: It differs a bit from Rorate's translation. ]
The truth is not "absolute", not because it is relative, but because it is a relationship and therefore needs bonds: the love of God, and his life in the reality of the Church.
The question of the usefulness of this word game of the Pope remains. The danger of a misunderstanding from the outset was on hand. Why, then, was this risk taken, which occurred promptly, as it was used, to the euphoria of La Repubblica, and in whose wake numerous other media? So who has availed themselves of etymological "correctitude"? Whose salvation should this benefit? How much additional confusion has been lent to it without necessity?
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Nuova Bussola Quotidiana
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org