Vatican City, 11 September 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis has written a letter to the founder of “La Repubblica”, Eugenio Scalfari, responding to some questions that the ex-director of the newspaper had addressed to the Pope in various articles on faith and laicism. In the four-page letter, published today by the Italian daily, Francis addresses Scalfari and non-believers with a summary of how he personally discovered faith, reiterating that “without the Church I would not have been able to encounter Jesus” and adding that “it is due to this personal experience of faith lived within the Church that I am at ease in listening to your questions and in seeking, together with you, the paths along which we may perhaps begin to walk some of the way together”.
To the questions of how the Church responds to those who do not share in faith in Jesus and whether the Christian God forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith, the Pope answers that “considering – and this is the fundamental issue – that the mercy of God knows no limits if we turn to him with a sincere and penitent heart, the real question for those who do not believe in God lies in listening to one's own conscience”. He explains, “Sin, also in those who are without faith, exists when it goes against our conscience. Listening to and obeying one's conscience means, indeed, to make decisions in relation to what is perceived as good and bad. And on this decision rests the goodness or evil of our actions”.
On the theme of whether it is wrong or a sin to believe that no “absolute truth” exists, the Pope writes, “the truth, according to Christian faith, is God's love for us in Jesus Christ. So, the truth is a relationship! Each one of us receives the truth and expresses it in his or her own way, from the history, culture, and situation in which he or she lives”.
In response to the final question, “With the disappearance of man on earth, would there disappear also the thought capable of imagining God?”, Francis writes, “The greatness of man rests in his capacity to think of God. And this means being able to experience a knowing and responsible relationship with Him. But the relationship is between two realities. … God does not depend on our thought. Besides, when man's life on earth ends – for the Christian faith, in any case, this world as we know it is destined to fall – man will not cease to exist, and, in a way that we do not know, nor will the universe that was created with him”.
Francis concludes by emphasising that “the Church, believe me, despite all the slowness, the infidelity, the mistakes and the sins that may have been committed by those who belong to her, has no other meaning or aim other than living and bearing witness to Jesus”.