“Would I be condemned to hell if I had never heard of Jesus Christ?” says the Eskimo to the missionary. “No,” is the missionary’s reply. “Then why did you tell me?” says the Eskimo.
So goes the old joke and existential crisis surrounding a singular mode of salvation. It would seem unimaginably cruel to allow someone to be subjected to eternal torment due to inconvenient geography. Many of the fine people of the cloth are hopeful and possibly naive enough to espouse the idea that ignorance is enough to get someone a pass. And yet, nothing in scripture allows for such loopholes for the billions of people in the 2000 years since Christ’s Resurrection that have never heard the Word(The Bird?). Fortunately, the word of the Pope is tantamount to the word of Christ – direct lines and all that – and his eminence was good enough to claim that anyone who does good, including atheists, can gain access to Heaven Everlasting. Well, thanks for that.
It would appear that the Catholic Church is going for a new kinder, gentler image in the wake of all that pedophilia cover-up business. I’d imagine the, “condoms are worse than AIDS” debacle hasn’t helped their image much either. In fact, while we’re at it, claiming to speak for the poor whilst sitting atop a golden throne doesn’t send the right message, nor does the golden staff; being that these items could could be melted down and sold in order to inoculate thousands of children in the poorest countries. But they’ll always have Mother Teresa, who totally sucks, but people seem to like her anyway. That’s not to say that the Church is all AIDS and kid-fucking. They have contributed good things to the world. They preserved unfathomable knowledge in the wake of the Roman Empire collapsing. They actually did encourage and support science throughout Europe, so long as that science fit keenly within Church doctrine. They even founded Oxford University. And the new guy seems to be far more focused on the poorest people of the world, so we’ll see how that develops. Will he help the poor by reversing the Vatican’s position on birth control, for instance? We’ll see. All in things considered, we can look upon the Vatican with indifference and a pinch of mild distaste for now. It’s a huge step forward.
With this new ground breaking change to the Papacy, we should all tip our hats to the new Pope (I am entirely too apathetic to bother remembering his name, or to even open another tab to Google it; really, if someone wrote it on the top of my hand, I wouldn’t even glance slightly downward for it) for his unflinching bravery. Finally all are considered under this new law. We can all go to Heaven, just do good. Well, not quite. It seems that Atheists can only get into Heaven if they join the Catholic Church, just like everyone else, just like every-when else. According to holy spokesman Reverend Thomas Rosica, “people who know the Catholic Church cannot be saved if they refuse to enter or remain in her.” Whether His Holiness sanctioned Rosica’s clarification or not is unclear. Perhaps there’s a Game of Thrones style subterfuge going on within the Vatican walls. Perhaps the message was misunderstood by a sensationalist media who wanted to start some shit for more readership. Saying that atheists can be redeemed isn’t the same as saying they’re welcome into Heaven for simply doing good. It’s actually the same message as before. We can be redeemed if we seek redemption. Doing good is just part of it.
Or course, good is still defined under the rigid and occasionally genocidal doctrine of the Vatican. Time will tell if they’re moving into the current century, if the church is indeed creating a new policy of inclusion or if this is simply more Papal Bullshit. But, if the Pope’s comments can be taken at face value, then atheists can look forward to joining the Pontiff of Pontiffs in Paradise, which we don’t believe in, as long as we adhere to the guidelines of goodness as handed down by His Holiness. Shall we seek his approval and sacrifice all that guilt-free masturbation?