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Pope springs new surprise by writing to a newspaper

Four page letter to prominent Italian atheist

  • Edward Pentin for National Catholic Register
  • Italy
  • September 12, 2013
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Pope Francis has pulled yet another surprise by taking the unprecedented step of writing a long letter to the founder of an Italian daily newspaper, explaining the faith to non-believers.

The 2,500-word missive, written in response to July 7 and Aug. 7 editorials by Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist founder of the socialist-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, principally addresses themes covering the faith, the Church and today’s increasingly secularist culture.

Scalfari was prompted to write his articles partly to show his admiration for the Holy Father, but also in response to Pope Francis’ first encyclical, Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), that was published in July. After lauding the Popes’ qualities and his love for the poor, Scalfari posed three questions at the end of his Aug. 7 editorial, none of which Scalfari expected to be answered.

The first was whether God’s mercy extends to non-believers; the second, whether it is sinful to doubt the existence of absolute truth; and the third, whether belief in God is merely a product of human thought.

In his letter of reply, published in today’s edition of the newspaper, Francis begins by saying “it is nothing other than positive, not only for us individually but also for the society in which we live, to pause to dialogue about a reality that is as important as faith, which refers to preaching and the figure of Jesus.”

He points to two circumstances that make such dialogue “proper and precious”. The first, he says, stems from a paradox: that the Christian faith, once seen as symbol of light, has been branded as the “darkness of superstition” and “opposed to the light of reason” in today’s modern culture, formed by the Enlightenment.

Noting the lack of communication between the Church and modern culture, Pope Francis said “the time has come” and that the Second Vatican Council “inaugurated” such an exchange, for “an open dialogue without preconceptions that reopens the doors to a serious and fruitful meeting.” 

Full Story: Pope Francis Takes the Faith to the Pages of the Secular Press 

Source: National Catholic Register

Full text of pope's letter

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