By Joe Keohane
Sept. 12, 2013
He won’t wear the shoes. He doesn’t bait the gays, or hound the nuns, or call Mohammed “evil and inhuman,” or fear the mean-girl Vatican cardinals whose solid gold multi-millennium party he’s so genially wrecking. Instead Pope Francis spends his days publicly worrying about social justice, calling attention to the problems of runaway capitalism, and entreating people to be decent to one another. He even washed the feet of a Muslim woman, which is about as double a whammy as a Pope can possible execute—especially after eight years of old Emperor Palpatine there.
And now this. In a letter yesterday to the founder of an Italian newspaper—signed “Francesco”—the Pope doubled down on a comment he had made this summer about atheists not all being doomed to roast on a spit for all eternity. Back then, a Vatican spokesman dubiously retracted the notion. But here it is again.
“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying—and this is the fundamental thing—that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.”
We called up Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of leading atheist group American Humanist Association to see if he saw this as good progress, or maybe akin to being granted admission into a club you never wanted to join in the first place.
To read the rest of this Esquire magazine story, click here.