A few weeks ago Pope Francis made a startling remark which in essence said that belief in Christ is not necessary for salvation. In so stating he was bucking 788 years of church teaching which has always been very clear: "outside the church there is no salvation". This theory, introduced in 1215 by Pope Innocent III, was an attempt to retain and grow new membership. Not just Catholics but most of Christianity adopted this monopolistic attitude.
Like many atheists, I knew immediately that the media jumped the gun on this one. Being an ex-catholic and grilled in church theology, I nevertheless felt a bit more liberated to know that this Pope hopefully will lean a bit left of center. To explain this doctrine is beyond the parameters of this short letter. It would only infuriate the "outsiders" even more. Suffice to say that I'm pleased with Pope Francis, who is a remarkable improvement over his predecessor. However, he has opened up a can of worms here.
It didn't take long for the Vatican damage control unit to explain "what the Pope meant". I'm hoping that Christians will choose the Pope's words rather than the "second version". Just when I was about to make my move on "christianmingle.com", my chances were looking good after the Pope's announcement that atheists could also go to heaven but after his inner circle got through parsing his words, I probably don't have a snowball's chance in hell on that website.
Like Congress, change comes slow in the Vatican. We should be thankful that the Pope has ignited a debate after seven centuries. The problem is that it is ill timed, since we have so many more urgent problems facing this country. Rather than debating who's saved and who isn't maybe we should all donate a jar of peanut butter to the Got Lunch Plymouth summer program. We'll all be the better for it.