Francis Respectfully Acknowledges Non-Believers

NCR reports on Pope Francis’ press conference today, including its remarkable closing. When a Pope gives an audience or speaks to a gathering, he normally concludes the audience by giving his “apostolic blessing,” which is a special blessing from the pope. It’s a very Catholic thing.

Here is how he gave that blessing to the 5000+ journalists from the international press corps today:

The new pope concluded the audience with the journalists by offering his apostolic blessing — in silence.

“Not everyone present belongs to the Catholic faith and others do not believe,” the pope said.

“I respect the conscience of each one of you”, he continued, “knowing that each one of you is a Child of God. May God bless you.”

I respect the conscience of each one of you. How wonderful to hear these words from a pope, not only to non-Catholics but even to atheists.

dotCommonweal also reports on the event, with additional detail about the introduction by the head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. During the press conference, the pope also explained how it was that as he was elected, he was inspired to select the name of Francis of Assisi, who was “a man of poverty, a man of peace, a man who loved and protected creation.”

He also talked about the purpose of the church:

The pope also made a comparison between the Holy Trinity and a “trinity of communication: truth, goodness and beauty.”

“We are not called to communicate ourselves, but this trinity,” the pope said. “The church exists to communicate truth, goodness and beauty.”


The full text of Pope Francis’ remarks is now available in English translation.

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2 Responses to Francis Respectfully Acknowledges Non-Believers

  1. So, I’m not expecting any big changes on things like birth control, gay marriage, women’s ordination, and the like BUT I havr to say that PopeFrancis makes a good first impression.

    • Indeed. And it seems to me that the qualities he is showing, of sincere humility, respectfulness, listening, and fully engaged interactions with others, are necessary prerequisites for meaningful dialogue, especially around differences.

      Such a change in the papal, curial, and episcopal cultures would itself constitute progress towards truth, goodness, beauty, and justice.

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