Pope Francis says atheists who “abide by their own conscience” are granted God’s mercy

BY newsdesk  September 12, 2013 at 4:40 PM EST


Video still/PBS NewsHour

Pope Francis, known for his conciliatory tone, wrote in a 26,000-word letter to an Italian newspaper that atheists must “abide by their own conscience.”

The letter published Wednesday in La Repubblica was a response to a series of question posed by a former editor at the paper and non-believer Eugenio Scalfari. The pope says it’s important for the Catholics to engage in dialogue with non-believers, and reminds those who do not share his faith that God’s mercy “has no limits”.

When addressing Scalfari’s question of whether God forgave those “who do not believe and do not seek to believe”, the head of the Catholic church wrote:

“Given — and this is the fundamental thing — that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart. The question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”

H/T Cindy Huang