Pope Francis: There Have Been ‘Many Atheist Theologians’ in History

Pope Francis

ROME — Pope Francis warned Wednesday education and knowledge alone are insufficient since history is replete with “atheist theologians.”

“The passion for the Gospel is not a matter of comprehension or studies,” the pontiff told crowds gathered in the Vatican for his weekly general audience.

“You can study all the theology you want, you can study the Bible and all that, and become atheist or worldly, it is not a question of studies,” the pope declared, adding that “in history there have been many atheist theologians.”

“Study is useful but it does not generate the new life of grace,” he said, because true conversion means going through the experience of fall and resurrection that Saul Paul did.

“For it is not knowing much, but realizing and relishing things interiorly, that contents and satisfies,” Francis said, citing Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order.

“Every one of us, think. ‘I am a religious’ – ‘Fine’ – ‘I pray’ – ‘Yes’ – ‘I try to obey the commandments’ – ‘Yes’ – ‘But where is Jesus in your life?’” he insisted.

“Jesus, where is he? Have you encountered Jesus, have you spoken with Jesus? If you pick up the Gospel or talk with Jesus, do you remember who Jesus is?” he asked rhetorically.

The pope went on to assert that this is something that Christians very often lack: a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and so they live a Christianity with an abstract Jesus as an idea rather than a person.

The difference is that “when Jesus enters, everything changes,” he continued. “Many times, we have heard comments on people: ‘But look at him, he was a wretch and now he is a good man, she is a good woman… who changed them?’ Jesus, they found Jesus.”

“If Jesus did not enter your life, it did not change,” he said. “You can be Christian only from the outside.”

“Jesus must enter and this changes you,” he contended. “It is finding Jesus, and this is why Paul said that Christ’s love drives us, it is what takes you forward.”

“The true Catholic, the true Christian is one who receives Jesus within, which changes your heart,” he asserted. “This is the question I ask you all today: what does Jesus mean for me? Did I let him enter my heart, or do I keep him within reach but so that he does not really enter within? Have I let myself be changed by him?”


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