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Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences
guardian ^ | 11 September 2013 | Lizzie Davies

Posted on 09/12/2013 5:58:16 AM PDT by armydoc

As letters to the editor go, it was certainly out of the ordinary, stretching to more than 2,500 words and not one of them veering on the irate or indignant. But the missive received by Eugenio Scalfari, co-founder and former editor of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, nonetheless made it into print on Wednesday – on the front page and under the impressively brief byline of "Francesco".

Sorry, Guardian articles must be excerpted

(Excerpt) Read more at theguardian.com ...


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events
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Responding to a series of questions asked in the summer by Scalfari, who describes himself as an interested "non-believer", Pope Francis used his trademark conciliatory tone to discuss the Catholic church's attitude to atheists, urging those who do not share his faith to "abide by their own conscience" and reminding them God's mercy "has no limits".

Expressing the belief that it was important for Christians to engage in "a sincere and rigorous dialogue" with atheists, Francis recalled Scalfari had asked him whether God forgave those "who do not believe and do not seek to believe".

"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 pope wrote, "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."


So now one's "conscience" rules supreme? What a dog's breakfast! I know plenty of atheists who claim a "clean conscience". I guess they are good to go then? God's mercy will honor their conviction of conscience that there is no God? Does this apply to Catholics as well who have a clean conscience regarding supporting abortion?

1 posted on 09/12/2013 5:58:16 AM PDT by armydoc
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To: armydoc
I took this part: God's mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart," to mean that if an atheist comes to God with a sincere and repentant heart, he will also be saved. To come to God with a sincere and repentant heart requires belief in God, i.e., an end to atheism for that individual. But that's just my opinion.
2 posted on 09/12/2013 6:00:51 AM PDT by knittnmom (Save the earth! It's the only planet with chocolate!)
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To: armydoc
Check out the Pope's new car
3 posted on 09/12/2013 6:05:42 AM PDT by ken5050 (According to Dick Lugar, I'm a "random outlier." Woo Hoo!!!!)
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To: armydoc
Maybe it would be better to read what he actually wrote rather than read what some communist rag wrote about what he wrote.

See here: Pope Francis' Letter to the Founder of "La Repubblica" Italian Newspaper for the actual letter itself.

Please read the whole thing for context, but the paragraph they are talking about is here:

So I come to the three questions you put to me in the article of August 7. It seems to me that, in the first two, what is in your heart is to understand the attitude of the Church to those who don’t share faith in Jesus. First of all, you ask me if the God of Christians forgives one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith. Premise that – and it’s the fundamental thing – the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart; the question for one who doesn’t believe in God lies in obeying one’s conscience. Sin, also for those who don’t have faith, exists when one goes against one’s conscience. To listen to and to obey it means, in fact, to decide in face of what is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision pivots the goodness or malice of our action.

Also, btw, for the record, here is what the Catechism says about it:

1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery." Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

Note the word "can" versus "shall" or "will".

Also see Romans 2:

[13] For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. [14] For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature those things that are of the law; these having not the law are a law to themselves: [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,

4 posted on 09/12/2013 6:08:16 AM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: armydoc

I was thinkng that this provides cover for Kerry and Pelosi. It is also in line with Obama’s statement that he believe sin is when “I violate my own conscience.” This belief devalues Jesus’s death on the cross, as now there is no absolute sin or sinner in need of redemption. Apostasy on display.


5 posted on 09/12/2013 6:08:23 AM PDT by Freestate316 (Know what you believe and why you believe it.)
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Comment #6 Removed by Moderator

To: marshmallow
This article is another reminder of the veracity of what Archbishop Chaput said a couple of years ago:
We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith—and sometimes they can’t provide it, either because of limited resources or because of their own editorial prejudices. These are secular operations focused on making a profit. They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.

7 posted on 09/12/2013 6:19:10 AM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: Freestate316

It is also in line with Obama’s statement that he believe sin is when “I violate my own conscience.”. This belief devalues Jesus’s death on the cross, as now there is no absolute sin or sinner in need of redemption..... Apostasy on display”....

Sure is...We were warned in the last days they would have “Itching ears, teaching things they ought not”....I’m hearing it...Forgiveness is through Christ.....The Pope is teaching false doctrine if he was quoted correctly...Then again, not Catholic here, never pray to Mary or the saints...Go straight to the throne of Grace...


8 posted on 09/12/2013 6:20:47 AM PDT by selfdefense
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To: armydoc
The pope had had "no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation", it said, adding: "They cannot be saved who, knowing the church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her."

I knew it wouldn't be long before the backtracking began.

At least they are clarifying that they don't believe salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ.

9 posted on 09/12/2013 6:35:01 AM PDT by wmfights
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To: knittnmom
I took this part: God's mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart," to mean that if an atheist comes to God with a sincere and repentant heart, he will also be saved. To come to God with a sincere and repentant heart requires belief in God, i.e., an end to atheism for that individual. But that's just my opinion.

But that was not the premise of the question:

Francis recalled Scalfari had asked him whether God forgave those "who do not believe and do not seek to believe".

We're talking here about the hypothetical atheist that claims a clean conscience. The proper response to such a person would be to tell them that because of their sin nature, their conscience is not always reliable. Presumably, if an atheist approached the good Pontiff and asked him if there was anything wrong with his "clean conscience atheism", the Pontiff would have to say "no, nothing wrong with that at all. God will honor that with his boundless mercy".
10 posted on 09/12/2013 6:36:00 AM PDT by armydoc
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To: marshmallow
It helps to understand that one is dealing with a member if "the elect". The idea that God's mercy might be spread a little wider than their exclusive group causes them some consternation.

This has nothing to do with election. I have no problem in saying that the atheist who dies in his atheism faces eternal judgement in hell. Do you have a problem saying the same?
11 posted on 09/12/2013 6:42:43 AM PDT by armydoc
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To: armydoc

Based on the actions of the Risen Christ himself, I don’t see how the Church can see it otherwise. Recalling the Apostle Thomas who refused to believe that Christ had risen until he could “put his fingers in His side” (i.e. I’ll believe it when I see it). Christ did not condemn Thomas, He didn’t tell Thomas he was going to burn in hell. He chastised him and said, “Blessed are they who believe and do not see.” The Pope made the right call.


12 posted on 09/12/2013 6:42:45 AM PDT by huckfillary
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To: huckfillary

and?

Atheists need Jesus Christ. Did the Pope just deny Christ?


13 posted on 09/12/2013 6:44:35 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: armydoc
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.

What the heck does that mean? If your conscience says its okay to kill babies, then it's a sin for you not to kill babies?

14 posted on 09/12/2013 6:46:12 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: armydoc

Sweet! Non-believers get to come to the party too.


15 posted on 09/12/2013 6:46:28 AM PDT by GunRunner (***Not associated with any criminal actions by the ATF***)
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To: huckfillary
Based on the actions of the Risen Christ himself, I don’t see how the Church can see it otherwise. Recalling the Apostle Thomas who refused to believe that Christ had risen until he could “put his fingers in His side” (i.e. I’ll believe it when I see it). Christ did not condemn Thomas, He didn’t tell Thomas he was going to burn in hell. He chastised him and said, “Blessed are they who believe and do not see.” The Pope made the right call.

Thomas believed. Yes, he doubted and required proof, but he believed. Now, if he had said "nice try, I'm not buying it. My conscience tells me it's a scam", I'm sure Jesus would have said "as long as you're following your conscience, you have My blessing", right?
16 posted on 09/12/2013 7:04:00 AM PDT by armydoc
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To: armydoc

Pope Francis tells atheists to ‘obey their conscience’
Alessandro Speciale - RNS - Sep 11, 2013

http://www.religionnews.com/2013/09/11/pope-francis-tells-atheists-to-obey-their-conscience/

http://biblehub.com/jeremiah/17-9.htm

http://biblehub.com/hebrews/11-6.htm


17 posted on 09/12/2013 7:05:16 AM PDT by haffast (Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new at all. -Abe Lincoln)
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To: armydoc

I have had a very bad feeling about this guy-— I think we are in trouble.


18 posted on 09/12/2013 7:25:13 AM PDT by Mamzelle
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: Mamzelle; armydoc
I am hoping that something was lost in translation. But I, too, am growing concerned.

It also surprises me that our Catholic friends are not discussing this story: Catholic priests may be allowed to marry amid Papal changes. There appear to be great changes afoot, some of which may not be welcome to them.

20 posted on 09/12/2013 7:51:42 AM PDT by jboot (It can happen here because it IS happening here.)
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To: Freestate316
I was thinkng that this provides cover for Kerry and Pelosi. It is also in line with Obama’s statement that he believe sin is when “I violate my own conscience.” This belief devalues Jesus’s death on the cross, as now there is no absolute sin or sinner in need of redemption. Apostasy on display.

Indeed. I have always been appreciative of the CC's stand on abortion. I had been hoping their slow response to prominent pro-aborts such as Kerry et al was a reflection of prudence and timing. Now, with the Pope's declaration regarding the supremacy of conscience, it's Katy Bar the Door. I would imagine the faithful parish Priest who is striving against a significant population of "clean-conscience" pro-aborts in his congregation will get this thrown in his face.
21 posted on 09/12/2013 7:54:49 AM PDT by armydoc
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To: markomalley

Yes, but your catechism, and the Bible verse you cite, only apply to those who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. So, if the question was about God saving people on some remote island with no contact with the outside world, the answer would be find. When the question is about atheists who have already heard the Gospel and rejected it, the answer is absolutely incorrect.


22 posted on 09/12/2013 8:08:00 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: armydoc

The Church of Your Conscience is open for business

This is disturbing


23 posted on 09/12/2013 8:12:11 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: armydoc

Those who do not seek to believe should not even be asking if God forgives them. To ask implies that they are seeking to believe. His Excellency, the Pope, kind of ducked the question and answered from another angle, IMO.


24 posted on 09/12/2013 8:41:01 AM PDT by knittnmom (Save the earth! It's the only planet with chocolate!)
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To: GeronL; svcw

This is the gospel of Jiminy Cricket.


25 posted on 09/12/2013 8:54:49 AM PDT by dragonblustar
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To: dragonblustar

lol.

Good one.


26 posted on 09/12/2013 8:55:26 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: knittnmom

He ducked nothing, he said you do not have to be a believer to get into heaven - that is clear.
In essence he is teaching all paths lead to God, ans he is wrong.


27 posted on 09/12/2013 9:47:03 AM PDT by svcw (Stand or die)
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To: dragonblustar

funny


28 posted on 09/12/2013 9:47:24 AM PDT by svcw (Stand or die)
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To: svcw

I think maybe the sedavacantists will be expanding their ranks?


29 posted on 09/12/2013 10:32:24 AM PDT by bkaycee (John 3:16)
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To: Freestate316; armydoc

"Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved."

Armydoc, I don't see how it could apply to Pelosi and other apostate Catholics at all. It is clearly intended for those who (1) have not heard the Gospel but (2) do the will of God as they understand it. Neither of these apply to Nancy Pelosi or any apostate Catholic.

Look, Pelosi went to Catholic Schools for 16 years. She has heard the Gospel proclaimed to her thousands of times. Whatever she may think about the "will of (g)od," she cannot possibly mean the same God proclaimed by the Catholic Church.

It's frighteningly probable that she, Kerry, Cuomo and the rest, know the Master's will but do not do it. Such persons, Jesus says, are like the stewards who screwed up though they were actually aware of what they should have been doing. When the Master comes back, they will get even "more stripes" (punitive lashing) because they knew better.

30 posted on 09/12/2013 10:34:49 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved. " - St. Seraphim of Sarov)
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To: marshmallow; armydoc; Religion Moderator
It helps to understand that one is dealing with a member if "the elect". The idea that God's mercy might be spread a little wider than their exclusive group causes them some consternation.

I see that by way of a response you got my first reply to your ungracious strawman comment pulled. How very clever and thoughtful of you. But my question still stands. The Pope has seemingly implied that it is possible for an individual who openly disbelieves in God and His Christ to enter a state of grace. Can anyone explain how the Pope's comments should be rightly interpreted?

This is the only thread on FR where this is being discussed, and although it is not a caucus thread it is being treated like one. Apparently no one wants to go near this topic with a 10-foot pole. That is too bad.

31 posted on 09/12/2013 10:36:44 AM PDT by jboot (It can happen here because it IS happening here.)
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To: armydoc; marshmallow
I have no problem saying that an atheist who dies in his atheism faces an eternal judgment in hell. In fact, it's almost a tautology. Hell is by definition a place where God is excluded by an alien will. God is excluded, therefore love, therefore the source of life and light, therefore all truth, goodness and beauty --- it's all excluded by a perverse obstinacy.

That's hell.

There are people walking this same earth with us who live in torment in a hell of horrors already within the confines of their minds. They have not "lost" their way. They have rejected the Way.

32 posted on 09/12/2013 10:42:20 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("All the way to heaven is heaven, because Christ said, 'I am the Way.'" - St. Catherine of Siena)
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To: jboot

I think Popes can say or do whatever they want as long as its “Ex Cathedra”.


33 posted on 09/12/2013 10:53:04 AM PDT by bkaycee (John 3:16)
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To: bkaycee

I had Know idea what that word was, so looked it up and still do not know.
Are you able to explain it?


34 posted on 09/12/2013 10:58:12 AM PDT by svcw (Stand or die)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
There are people walking this same earth with us who live in torment in a hell of horrors already within the confines of their minds. They have not "lost" their way. They have rejected the Way.

And many who reject "The Way" feel no such torment; their consciences are perfectly clear. The Pope would have us believe that God will honor their conviction of conscience with boundless mercy.
35 posted on 09/12/2013 11:01:58 AM PDT by armydoc
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To: svcw

I believe Sedavacantists are usually very traditional Catholics who believe the present popes are not legit.

It could be that some believe Popes after Vatican II were bogus.


36 posted on 09/12/2013 11:04:22 AM PDT by bkaycee (John 3:16)
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To: bkaycee

Oh. You were much easier to understand than my search.


37 posted on 09/12/2013 11:05:38 AM PDT by svcw (Stand or die)
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To: bkaycee
After Francis I's "who am I to judge" comments back in July I assumed that he was simply misunderstood. Those comments were also Ex Cathedra. And yes, such utterances generally get a pass for that exact reason.

I think he needs to get a little less chatty when he gives interviews. These sort of comments beget controversies that help no one, Catholic or Protestant.

38 posted on 09/12/2013 11:05:58 AM PDT by jboot (It can happen here because it IS happening here.)
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To: jboot

I’m going to sort these blaspemies out later in great detail, snapping that pole. It seems even the FRomans are a kind of universalist. I’m not at home though, so I can’t right now.


39 posted on 09/12/2013 11:59:53 AM PDT by Greetings_Puny_Humans
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To: armydoc
I had been hoping their slow response to prominent pro-aborts such as Kerry et al was a reflection of prudence and timing.

They respond, Nancy Pelosi just personally met her new Pope, and received communion at the Vatican.

Here the Catholic church is responding to the loss of their beloved Ted Kennedy by burying him in a manner that the common Catholics cannot help but notice, and which reinforces their support for the pro-abortion democrat party.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

40 posted on 09/12/2013 12:47:32 PM PDT by ansel12 ( Libertarians, the left's social agenda with conservatism's economics, which is impossible of course)
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To: jboot

There were no complaints, your post was pulled because it was “making it personal.”


41 posted on 09/12/2013 12:52:38 PM PDT by Religion Moderator
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To: Mrs. Don-o

The pope’s statement certainly does not provide cover for them before God, because He sees beyond their political facade and into the depths of their hearts. What I was implying is that it gives them area to portray themselves as “people of faith” before the low information voter without having to stand up for any core values or beliefs that are incongruous with liberal doctrine. To liberals, the truth of the Gospel has no impact on their values, but only serves as window dressing to fool the masses into believing they actually have mainstream moral values.


42 posted on 09/12/2013 12:56:48 PM PDT by Freestate316 (Know what you believe and why you believe it.)
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To: jboot
This is the only thread on FR where this is being discussed, and although it is not a caucus thread it is being treated like one

Garbage.

I posted a thread on this very subject yesterday.

43 posted on 09/12/2013 1:05:26 PM PDT by marshmallow
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To: jboot; bkaycee
"Those comments were also Ex Cathedra.:

Hey, jboot---You mean not ex cathedra. Not "from the chair."

It's hard to give an adequate catechesis on conscience in one go. I always start by telling my RCIA students that, as Pope Pius XII said, "Conscience is a student, not a teacher."

Also: "Conscience has duties before it has rights." The Duties of conscience include formation, information and conformation.

Formation means acquiring habits of virtue, including the habit of diligently seeking out wisdom and knowledge.

Information means "getting the facts." None of conscience's judgments are worth a flip if they're based on feelings or preferences rather than moral and practical facts.

Conformation means being conformed to the Mind of Christ.

A conscience which has fulfilled these duties is a conscience that deserves respect.

But maybe Pope Francis will bring out these points, or something similar, in Lesson 2!

44 posted on 09/12/2013 1:09:47 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved. " - St. Seraphim of Sarov)
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To: armydoc
It's true, some people don't seem to be interiorly disturbed about rejecting Christ. I observe, though, that though they may have buried their consciences, they may have buried them alive.

Maybe with some atheists, just reminding them that they have a conscience and are still obliged to do good and avoid evil, is a big first step.

You might be interested in what I wrote over here: #44

45 posted on 09/12/2013 1:14:14 PM PDT by Mrs. Don-o ("Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved. " - St. Seraphim of Sarov)
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To: armydoc

for later


46 posted on 09/12/2013 1:18:13 PM PDT by don-o (He will not share His glory and He will NOT be mocked! Blessed be the name of the Lord forever!)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Thank you for that lesson on conscience. Quite helpful and I agree with all of the points. Unfortunately, it makes the Pope's appeal to the atheist's conscience all the more baffling. To wit:

The Duties of conscience include formation, information and conformation. Formation means acquiring habits of virtue, including the habit of diligently seeking out wisdom and knowledge. Information means "getting the facts." None of conscience's judgments are worth a flip if they're based on feelings or preferences rather than moral and practical facts. Conformation means being conformed to the Mind of Christ.

Great stuff. The atheist, certainly the "comfortable" athiest, may or may not have attained some level of formation and information but, by definition, has not attained any signficant level of conformation. Why on earth then would the Pope appeal to such a deficient conscience?

as Pope Pius XII said, "Conscience is a student, not a teacher."

The teacher, presumably, is Holy Scripture (plus Tradition/Magisterium I'm sure you would add). The Pope is appealing to a student who has never been taught. Rather than appealing to this ignorant student, the Pope should have directed them to the Teacher. Something like "you may have a clear conscience regarding your atheism, but your conscience cannot be trusted. It is seriously deficient because of your sin nature. I challenge you to study Holy Scripture. I pray that through it, the Holy Spirit will instruct your conscience and bring you to an understanding of how perilous your condition actually is".

A conscience which has fulfilled these duties is a conscience that deserves respect.

Again, the atheist's conscience cannot have fulfilled these duties. It is not deserving of respect. The Pope should not have appealed to it.
47 posted on 09/12/2013 2:17:01 PM PDT by armydoc
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To: Religion Moderator

Really? The definition of “making it personal” has definitely broadened, then.


48 posted on 09/12/2013 4:49:43 PM PDT by jboot (It can happen here because it IS happening here.)
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To: marshmallow
Nevertheless, this is the only thread where it is being discussed.
49 posted on 09/12/2013 4:50:45 PM PDT by jboot (It can happen here because it IS happening here.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Thanks for your reply. Mea Culpa Ex Cathedra! LOL, I always get that one wrong.

I agree with your points as well. I am going to make an effort to find a transcript of the entire interview. The context of the Pope's statements appears to address the condition of an atheist ("one without faith and no interest in faith"), but I would like to verify that this is the case from an actual transcript. If it is the case, it is troubling, as the uninformed conscience of the atheist cannot possible conform to the Mind of Christ.

50 posted on 09/12/2013 5:05:21 PM PDT by jboot (It can happen here because it IS happening here.)
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