The Pope, Kirk, and Atheists
Let me try to consolidate some research and information for people so that they don’t have to scour the internet forever to find all this information out. For those that are looking, many now want to know if Kirk Cameron is, in fact, an anti-Catholic because he re-posted the information about Pope Francis’ statement on atheists which claimed that Pope Francis was saying ‘man can save himself’.
Catholics seem to be blissfully unaware that yes, in fact, Kirk Cameron and his mentor Ray Comfort are actively anti-Catholic. The duo have made very clear statements in the past that they are anti-Catholic enough to hold the very clear viewpoint that Catholics are not even Christians. Catholics are in a separate category to them. Take a look at a previous blog entry I posted where I show their stance against Catholicism.
So what DID the Pope say about atheists getting into Heaven? You can read the entire message unedited from the Pope here. You can also read an excellent breakdown of what exactly the Pope was saying with a question and answer breakdown to help clarify what he said in accordance with Catholic teaching from Jimmy Akin here.
Included in that piece is the excerpt from what the Pope said about those who do not believe in God:
First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith.
Given that—and this is fundamental—God’s mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience.
In fact, listening and obeying it, means deciding about what is perceived to be good or to be evil.
The goodness or the wickedness of our behavior depends on this decision.
You have to believe in God to ask mercy of Him and those that don’t believe follow their own conscience and decide for themselves about what is good or evil.
So how did Kirk Cameron get involved in all of this? This goes back about three steps and demonstrates how misinformation spreads like wildfire online. Kirk re-posted an excerpt of an article from an evangelical entitled “The Pope Declares Man Can Save Himself” in which the author, Jay Younts wrote his article based on an inaccurate and misleading piece done in the UK the Independent where they claim in their headline that the Pope said, “you don’t have to believe in God to go to Heaven.”
The chain of events is follows, The Pope wrote a letter to La Repubblica. The Independent misquoted the Pope and claimed he said something he never did. Jay Younts read the Independent and wrote his own article claiming the Pope said man can save himself, which is even farther off the mark. Kirk re-posted part of it on his own website calling it “a great article” with a link. This is how it got twisted and went viral and this is why Kirk’s bias and willing ignorance of Catholicism has placed him against our Holy Father.
I’m not sure why atheists would care about getting to a Heaven they don’t believe in or why the secular world seems so comforted by the false notion that our Holy Father appears to be softening the Church’s position on their final state at death. Perhaps because it is uncomfortable at the idea of condemnation and judgment for its actions.
The Church’s teachings are clearly explained by Thomas Rosica’s in his blog.¹ He states in part:
God truly and effectively wills all people to be saved. Catholics believe that it is only in Jesus Christ that this salvation is conferred, and through Christianity and the one Church that it must be mediated to all people.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, part of which he quotes in his blog, also states:
171. What is the meaning of the affirmation “Outside the Church there is no salvation”?
This means that all salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body. Hence 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. At the same time, thanks to Christ and to his Church, those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation.
Do not let yourselves be troubled by secular media trying to tell you what your Pope said to the people of God. Remember the world’s reaction to your faith ranges from indifferent to hostile, therefore you shouldn’t let yourselves be swayed by their rendition of your faith or their empty hopes in conformity. I’m not saying you have to ignore all secular media forever no matter what and only get your information from one source or another that fits your viewpoint. Otherwise, you’re living in a vacuum and creating a limited world for yourself based on limited understanding. I’m encouraging you to study your faith and when something like this comes up, go to your Church documents and read what they say for yourself. Particularly the CCC, then Second Vatican II documents. Afterward, go to the source, the Pope’s transcript, or letter and read it for yourself. Don’t take the word of an indifferent to hostile world telling you what your Pope said. Read it for yourself and by understanding your faith in light of what he’s saying, you understand that what he’s saying is not contrary to the faith handed down from the Apostle’s themselves.
Remember what St. Paul said, “but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
1. He also includes excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church #135, 152, 162, 166, & 171.