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Can I Still Become An Atheist

Is it too late for me to become an atheist? Do I have sign somewhere?

Pope Francis has told us that all that is needed for atheists to get to heaven is to follow their own malformed consciences.

I really wish I knew this earlier. I would have avoided a lifetime of difficult Truths in favor of my conscience.

My old unformed conscience, it turns out, was fairly forgiving of many things. That seems much easier.

It may be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. But it is easier still for an atheist to get to heaven.

Of course, it is possible for an atheist to get to heaven but it would seem to me that it is immensely  difficult without faith and sacrament.  Generalizing it as in such a way will not be interpreted correctly by most. The Pope makes it seem simple. How many atheists do you know that think they follow their conscience? Why believe if that is sufficient?

It is like saying "All you need to do to get to the Hall of Fame is bat .500 over a 10 year career (while blind)"

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of jhe Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. No no, stay. Just kidding."


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Artax57 said...

I thought he was supposed to be a smart man. This is very disappointing.

JB said...

The ship is rudderless at the moment. Listing badly.

William Meyer said...

"...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."

But the second issue, assuming they do always follow their conscience is for them to "go to [God] with a sincere and contrite heart". What atheist will go to God at all? They insist He does not exist. There are none so blind as those who do not see. They will not "go to Him" in this life, and when they find themselves facing Him at the final judgment, will they then see? Or will they be blinded still by their denial?

sparrow said...

Read what he actually said - not the absurd spin distorting it.

JB said...

I read it. It is as clear as mud, but the implication is that even those who do not seek God will be forgiven by him. That is contrary even to Vatican II. Also, what is this the "God of the Christians" language?? Is there some other God?

Beam me up Scotty.

Brandon Vogt said...

Come on, Patrick. You're better than that. No need to mock the Pope.

Besides, Pope Francis offered nothing new in his quotes, merely the consistent teaching of the Church. That teaching says it's *possible*, though not necessarily likely, for non-Christians to be saved by following the dictates of their conscience.

For an almost verbatim affirmation, read paragraph 16 of the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church ("Lumen Gentium"), written in 1964:

"Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life."

However, as noted by Ralph Martin in his recent book, "Will Many Be Saved?" (Eerdmans), we must not forget the passage immediately following the one above (note the word "often"):

"But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature", the Church fosters the missions with care and attention."

What this means is that nobody--Catholic, Muslim, Jew, or atheist--will be held responsible for what they could not have known. Thus it is possible to be saved if, through no fault of your own, you fail to believe in God.

However, to the extent you are culpable for your disbelief, whether through willed ignorance or conscience choice, your salvation is in serious jeopardy.

Jonathan said...

Perhaps we should all stop giving to Peter's Pence and instead club together and buy the Pope a copy of the Catechism.

"Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience"

The qualifying adjective 'right' is crucial and the Pope has missed it.

"Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the first commandment."

So Atheism itself is a sin, whether or not your conscience tells you so.

"But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law"

Ignorance is no excuse in this case.

"Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest."

Even if you are not deliberately choosing evil your atheism is still sinful.

The fruit of the Pope's dialogue is that atheists have been comforted in their denial of God and have been given a shield against the Gospel: I regularly engage my atheist friends and colleagues on the need to turn to God, they will use this as another argument against converting.

Isn't it time we started judging Francis by his fruit? With bitter offerings like this I cannot believe that he is still connected to the vine.

Pedro Erik said...

For me, the pope made a big mistake in using the word "conscience".

It seems to me he does not understand the difference between conscience, which cannot be source of morality, and natural law "written in the hearts".

I feel that the pope is trying to reach anyonce, what it is good (and a duty), but he should take care of what he is renoucing (Catholic (Christ) teaching).

JB said...

The point is his letter is very murky, as is the section on the promises of God to the Jews which could be interpreted that the new covenant of Jesus does not apply to them, that we are in alliance with them while we wait for Jesus, and they wait for someone else I guess. It's clear as mud. Also a risible comment about how we didn't realize that Jesus came from the Jews until "Vatican II"? is this to be taken seriously?

I'm all for everyone being saved but he needs to write and speak more clearly. Or write less.

Pedro Erik said...

By the way, good piece, Patrick.

I am not offended to you mocking the pope. Pope Francis must take care what is saying, mocking is a efficient way to say that. Just keep your heart to Christ and the Church.

Subvet said...

Perhaps HIs Holiness has this in mind:

Mk 9: 38-41

John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."

Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.

For whoever is not against us is for us.

Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

Patrick Archbold said...

The fact that almost weekly we find ourselves saying "I think what the Pope was trying to say..." is the problem

Patrick Archbold said...

I am not mocking the Pope. My commentary is directed only at his words.

I am not Spartacus said...

Our Pope sings from the Syllabus Songbook:


15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. -- Allocution "Maxima quidem," June 9, 1862; Damnatio "Multiplices inter," June 10, 1851.

16. Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation. -- Encyclical "Qui pluribus," Nov. 9, 1846.

17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ. -- Encyclical "Quanto conficiamur," Aug. 10, 1863, etc.

18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church. -- Encyclical "Noscitis," Dec. 8, 1849.

I am not Spartacus said...

Hebrews: But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him

Oakville Ontario said...

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

3 “About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. 6 About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

7 “‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Joe said...


Proteios1 said...

Interesting comments. One excessively harsh and a guy named Brandon who is excessively soft.
I think the reality is in between. T extract a quote in Brandon V.'s comment about not being culpable if ya didnt know may ring true for an undiscovered tribe in the heart of the Peruvian jungle. But I expect the Bible, a Catholic Church and any number of books, media, etc detailing the saving grace of Christ. Even in a country oppressed by islam. So no. You cannot turn away from the nearly constant offer of salvation and then claim a lack of responsibility for not knowing anymore than I can claim to not know the writings of Chesterton when I have 4 unopened books on my coffee table.
It could be true, but I had every opportunity todo so. There are very few in this world who haven't heard about Christ. Although I agree the evil one has distorted his message and meaning quite effectively.

Katharine B. said...

When I was an atheist, Christianity was against my conscience...

Unknown said...

I think Fr. Z. explains things clearly in his blog.

Dave P.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Dave. Thanks heavens The Brick By Brick Bund, right?

Without him speaking for The Pope the Pope might be taken at his own words about atheists.

Now, he said a similar thing in March and so one may be forgiven for taking the Pope at his own words, but then a Vatican Spokesman told us what he really meant back then, so, who knows what he ever intends?

So, where do I order the secret decoder ring that tells me that what the Pope said on two different occasions is not what he said or that what he said is not what he meant?

And what about when the Pope says something you agree with?

How do you know he intended what he said on that occasion unless The Brick By Brick Bund authoritatively interprets what The Pope said?

Why have a Pope at all when we have Fr. Z. ?

BTW, where is he incardinated and what Parish does he serve?

wkndbeachcomber said...

It’s strange how little things in life pop up at opportune times. I’m finishing up a book on the Counter-Reformation era. This scene is focused on the political intrigue around Henry Navarre ascending to the throne of France in the 1590s. Henry was a life-long Huguenot and antagonist of Philip II of Spain:

"Henry, on his side, saw that if he obtained the crown as a Protestant, he would still have the [Catholic] League and all the most sincerely Catholic minds of France against him. He decided boldly, then, to risk offending the Protestant minority. It is not so certain that the cynical remark, 'Paris is worth a Mass,' does him justice. There is another story of his being profoundly influenced by the arguments of the Jesuits. According to this version Henry, after much thought, assembled a group of Protestant ministers and asked them if they believed a man could be saved in the Roman Catholic Church. They agreed he could. 'Why, then, have you abandoned it?' demanded Henry. 'The Catholics contend that there can be no salvation in your church, but you admit that you could be saved in theirs. My common sense prompts me to take the safer side and to prefer a religion in which, according to the testimony of the whole world, I can secure eternal happiness.'"

From Philip II, William Thomas Walsh, p 683

My hope is that Papa Francis means his words to be interpreted through the lens of established Catholic teaching, because he knows he can't change it. But what are we to make of the muddle he creates around doctrines that could convert Kings by their sheer simplicity and common sense?

sparrow said...

Father Z really helped with this. You just can't trust the media to give you an accurate read on the Pope.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Sparrow. Fr. Z. is part of the media but as to why you think his personal opinions about what the Pope really intended to say this time is definitive is beyond me because The Pope has said the same thing two different times (at least) during the past five months.

Will Fr. Z. tell you when you can trust the Pope in what he clearly says?

BTW, do you know where Fr. Z, is incardinated?

JoAnna Wahlund said...

No, the problem is that we find ourselves saying weekly, "This is what the media reported the Pope said, but this is what the Pope ACTUALLY said."

Same old stuff, different day.

sparrow said...

It wasn't Father's Z opinion I valued but his production of a much longer quote from the Popes letter that helped. What difference does it make where the priest is incardinated? Could you be any less relevant? Your lack of trust is astounding.

sparrow said...

You're exactly right JoAnna

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Sparrow. I do not think I could be any less relevant but I wasn't asking you your opinion about my relevance but, rather, I was asking about where Fr. Z. is incardinated.

Such a question is not without value: ( wandering priests and all that)


but I think I sense in you a defensiveness about Fr. Z. that is not unwarranted.

And, no, I am not very trusting when I am told that Fr so-and-so has told us that is not what The Pope said or that is not what the Pope meant when he said essentially the same thing publicly on at least two different occasions.

My question to you is when do you take the Pope at his own words and is Fr. Z. the one who makes-up your mind on the matter for it is quite clear we can not trust what the Pope is quoted as saying even when Zenit publishes his words or even when the Vatican Radio publishes his own words for then a Fr. R. must clear-up the confusions/errors in what the Pope said.

St. Benedict's Thistle said...


You used a commonly misconstrued Scripture to make a false argument. Please note the words "we saw someone driving out demons in your name" (Mk 9: 38-41).

"In your name." The individual was doing good works in the name of Jesus. This is MUCH different than doing good in one's own name or philosophy.

When was the last time you saw an atheist cast out a demon or do a good work in the name of Jesus?

I am not Spartacus said...

The Pope said this in May


and, later, a Vatican spokesman, Rev Thomas Roscia, had to correct the putatively unintended consequences of the Pope's words.

It seems that when the Pope speaks we must be silent until Fr. Z., or Fr. R, or NCR, or Catholic Vote, or the Patheos Posse, tells us what to think about what the Pope really intended to say by the use of the words he actually used.

As to how it is they know the internal motivations of the Pope and what he really intended to say has yet to even be asked, let alone answered

The strange result of all of this is that it is not the words of the Pope that can be trusted but, rather, what is to be trusted is the interpretative spin put on those words by those scrambling to get ahead of the Pope who can not be trusted to say what he really means.

Me? I tend to take at face value what it is our Holy Father says - but that is now considered to be a response suffused with malign motives.

So that being the case, why do you folks even bothering reading what the Pope says for you are all admitting that what he means by what he says can only be safely arrived at by reading Fr. Z's explanation of what he intended to say?

Me untrustworthy?

It is y'all who do not trust the words of the Pope even when the source is The Vatican Radio.

Unless Fr. Z. tells you what to think about what The Pope said then you have nothing to go on.

O, yes, this is the new springtime.

BTW, where is Fr. Z. incardinated?

Sophia's Favorite said...

Sincere atheists, like other non-believers, can be saved. This has always been the doctrine of the Church. If they are saved, it is still through Christ and his Church (do I need to bring up The Last Battle, RE: Tash and Aslan—must I have recourse to children's stories to penetrate the bovine thickness of your ultraossified skulls?).

The reasons it is still incumbent upon us to evangelize are twofold. The first reason is that the sacraments provide a safety net; a non-believer's sins can only be forgiven if they have perfect contrition, not attrition (I trust I need not explain these technical terms?).

And the second is, the Faith is true, and is, again, the means of salvation of all who are saved, whether they know it or not. It is undignified to languish in ignorance, and also undignified to have request pity be taken on one's ignorance, when receiving salvation at the hands of the Incarnate Intellect of God. A saved atheist, as any other saved non-believer, must ride the short bus to salvation, his acts not held against him as they might be against a fully-responsible, actually aware of the cosmos he lives in, Christian.

I am not Spartacus said...

This is all I could find on Fr Z as pertains to incardination (at Fisheaters)


Remnant Columnist banned from Fr. Z's "blog"
« Reply #64 on: October 19, 2009, 03:34:PM »
Quote from: MagisterMusicae

Fr. Zulsdorf was incardinated in the Diocese of Velletri-Segni (a Suburbicarian of Rome) beginning with his ordination in 1991 and has renewed his faculties through 2008 (according to the bona fides on his website). That leaves open the question of where he is presently incardinated. In order to function a priest must be incardinated into a diocese. If he is not incardinated into a diocese he may not function publicly. If not incardinated then, just as the SSPX there is a question regarding confessions and marriages (though Canon Law is pretty loose about supplied jurisdiction). When incardinated in a diocese he may not, without permission of the bishop, take an extended leave from his diocese without possibly being excardinated.

And if you follow the links that FrZ himself has posted (http://www.wdtprs.com/bonafides/) it takes you to the diocesan website which states (in part):

n. 28.10.1959;
ord. 26.05.1991
St. Mary’s Church - 408 Seymour Street (Wasau) 2802
N. 97th St., Wausau, WI, 54403 (USA)

This is all public information as published by the diocese (I excluded his telephone numbers which have also been released by the diocese)

Interestingly, St Mary's church in Wasau, Wisconsin is an oratory of the Institute of Christ the King (http://www.institute-christ-king.org/wausau/) I'm not aware that Fr Zuhlsdorf is a member of the Institute but, in any case, the church website doesn't list him among the clergy:

Clergy of the Oratory

Canon Henry Fragelli, Rector

Abbé Kevin Kerscher, Sacristan and Assistant

Subvet said...

St. Benedict's Thistle, where's your proof that the Scripture in question is "commonly misconstrued" and that I'm intentionally making a false argument? Be careful, calumny is also a sin.

As for "in your name", I recall that faith without works is dead and by a person's works we'll know their hearts.

While I haven't seen any demons cast out by athiests, Catholics, etc. I've run across a fair number of talking jackasses. I guess that proves Balaam's mule wasn't so exceptional.

Come to my own blog to continue this if you'd like, I don't find you interesting enough to return here.

Mary De Voe said...

Atheists do not believe in the conscience. The conscience is that part of the immortal human soul, in which atheists do not beleive. For an atheist to follow his conscience, the atheist would have to admit to a conscience and a human immortal soul and heaven. Why would anyone want to become a fraud (read liar) saying "I AM" an atheist. God is existence.

Mary De Voe said...

" a non-believer's sins can only be forgiven if they have perfect contrition, not attrition." Perfect contrition and absolution through the priest in the Sacrament of Penance. But you are speaking of a death bed convert who must promise to see to the sacrament if he lives.

Robert said...

From the article linked to:
" 'God forgives those who obey their conscience,' he wrote in the unprecedented letter, the latest example of the markedly different tone and style from his predecessors that he has set since being elected in March".
So, I guess Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden are right.

Irenaeus of New York said...

Brandon said:

"What this means is that nobody--Catholic, Muslim, Jew, or atheist--will be held responsible for what they could not have known. Thus it is possible to be saved if, through no fault of your own, you fail to believe in God."

An atheist with faith is not an atheist. So your interpretation means that you can be saved without faith. That is an untenable position.

Irenaeus of New York said...

The VII quote above was immediately preceded by verses referencing the Abrahamic faiths. Not atheists. Even the reference to the "unknown god" is in reference to Paul talking to "believers" who had faith in an "unknown God". Not atheists.

This is what VII says of atheism:

"While rejecting atheism, ROOT AND BRANCH, the Church sincerely professes that all men, believers and unbelievers alike, ought to work for the rightful betterment of this world..."

To be rejected Root and Branch means they cannot be grafted to God and His Church while they persist.

Irenaeus of New York said...


I have always associated that passage with those who do not have visible corporate membership in the Church but have faith in Jesus and do good works. Like an evangelical or protestant. Respectfully, it does not have anything to do with atheists because they were doing the exorcisms in the name of Jesus because they had faith in the power of his holy name.

Unknown said...

Fr. Z. is the chaplain for the Tridentine Community in Madison. While he has said nothing more about his current status, it would not surprise me if he is in the process of being incardinated for the Diocese of Madison.

Dave P.

Jonathan said...

@Sophia's Favorite
"Sincere atheists ... can be saved"
No, that is a very serious heresy. There is no salvation without Faith. There is no salvation without Baptism. People who have not been received the Gospel but who strive to follow the moral law and to know God according to their ability and situation may be saved because they may have the implicit desire for baptism, without knowing explicitly what it is.
Atheists reject God. The catechism is very clear that this is a sin against the first commandment and that everyone is culpable for their own sins against the moral law. Ignorance is no excuse because the law is written on their hearts even if they deny it.

JB said...

I think Fr. Z is wrong on this issue. The heated and exasperated tone of his post kind of gives that away. I also have yet to hear a peep from him on the bizarre statements regarding Vatican II and the Jews.

Francis needs an editor.

I am not Spartacus said...

So atheists wil be saved, huh? Better think again. Atheists are culpable for their ignorance


I am not Spartacus said...

Athanasian Creed

1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;

Irenaeus of New York said...

One more clarification on the VII usage of "unknown god".

The "unknown god" was identified by Paul as our God.

His audience was of Athenians authentically searching for Truth. They worshiped and had faith in the Unknown God. Paul calls them very religious people. He became a light to them in their ignorance as the Church should.

They were given a choice by Paul to accept the revelation of the Church on the identity of God.

The argument that VII is speaking of faithless atheists with the reference to an "unknown god" is obviously false.

Allan Wafkowski said...

I always suspected that Islamic terrorist with body bombs would get to heaven because they followed their conscience.

Daniel Tataje said...

Mr. Patrick Archbold,
You are doing a lot more harm than good to the Church with your comments, I understand that you think you are more catholic than the pope and everybody else and your intentions might be good, but bashing the pope is not going to help. Do you think that something will change? do you think the pope is going to re-frase what he said because of your post? the only thing you are getting out of this is to discourage and divide catholics. There is 1 million things that you can criticize in the world today. Attacking and exposing the Holy Father's comments and taking them out of context is not going to help the church, I think that you should keep your comments and pray for your pope if you are really concern about his comments, but I don't think you are, you just want to make sure that everybody knows that you are better and more catholic than the pope.
I follow your blog and I used to like it, but I'm tired of your arrogance and attacks to the church...YES attacking the pope is attacking the church. I'm done with this blog. May God bless you.

Katalina said...

Actually commenting on the Pope's words and actions is NOT attacking the Pope or the Church. It is called critical thinking. Too many people use the old term More Catholic Than the Pope to make excuses for what appears baffling off many Catholics. I also am tired of the constant explanation and clarifications. Even Bishop Tobin has spoken publicly about Francis and this was on a different issue.

Elizabeth said...

Katalina: Yes, Bishop Tobin recently spoke publicly criticizing the Pope ~ something we sure don't see very often at all. I think Archbishop Chaput also had something to say about the HF.

Daniel Tataje: Perhaps you'd be happier over at Fr. Z's blog.

ANNE said...

The Pope must understand that his statements are broadcast via print throughout the world.
He has to understand that the Church is losing many Catholics on an annual basis - due to relativism.
Relativism means that one Faith is just as good as another, and there really is no right or wrong depending on an individual's conscience.
Pope Francis needs to tend his own Catholic flock.

ANNE said...

Although we must always be respectful, we do not have to agree with the Pope on matters that are not Faith and Morals.
In fact when in doubt, read the "CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition" for the truth of what the Church teaches. This is especially important when any Clergy makes a statement that does not jive with what you believe to be true.
For quotes from our Popes about the CCC go to: "What Catholics REALLY Believe SOURCE".
We each must make a concerted effort to accurately KNOW our Faith.

seamusberen said...


I've noticed lately that you have become exasperated with Pope Francis and you seem to have been sucked in by the first reports of a news media that would like nothing more than the Catholic Church to implode. The newest "Atheist" flap is an example. "God forgives those who follow their consciences," is not in the translation given by ZENIT, a far more authoritative source than you were using. In fact, Pope Francis has said nothing different than what we have always believed. That's why I'm finding it amazing that some who are "traditional" are beginning to make the same crazy comments about a pope's orthodoxy that the "liberals" made about Pope Benedict's comments: comments equally mistaken. It is a serious thing for a Catholic to question another Catholic's orthodoxy, much less the Pope's. You have one of the best blogs in cyber-space. Please give this Pope a chance. Nothing he has said has violated orthodoxy. Nothing he has said has even come close to it. He cannot help that the reporters covering him do no research and do not even know what Catholic teaching is. Thanks. Msgr. Eric R. Barr, Vicar General, Diocese of Rockford, Illinois.

Jerome said...

Does the Holy Father need a spin team assigned to clarify his every word? What I find frustrating is that the Pope took the bait and ran with it. He was set up. Theological debates over the the philosophy of Hans Ur von Balthazar are important. But, they should remain within the lecture halls. Otherwise, the public at large (with little knowledge of the subject) can get the wrong impression. If I'm not mistaken, many Catholics grew confused with Pope JPII's statements concerning the "infinite" mercy of Christ. The Encyclical Dominus Jesus however clarified things. It is our hope that all get to Heaven. However, Catholic Dogmatic theology says otherwise. The Pope being the leader of the RCC should chose his words and venues very, very carefully; he should write in clear, precise prose that leave little doubt or confusion. I write this with the assumption that the Holy Father was either misunderstood or his words didn't translate well, or the Church's detractors went to out of their way to spread confusion.

Last week wasn't a good week for the Vatican. The Vatican Sec of State gave a "signal" that the RCC may allow priests to marry as a matter of policy. However, the SS never said that. He just re-iterated what most Catholics already knew. But why bring it up at all.

If these public misfires continue, one wonders if we are in fact not going back to 1968. I certainly hope not.

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