Writing in one of Italy's major secular newspapers, Pope Francis called for a "sincere and rigorous dialogue" between the church and nonbelievers as an "intimate and indispensable expression" of Christian love. The pope's words appeared in a 2,600-word letter published in the Sept. 11 edition of the Rome daily La Repubblica, in reply to recent articles by Eugenio Scalfari, a co-founder and former editor-in-chief of the newspaper. According to the National Catholic Reporter columnist, John L. Allen, Jr., Pope Francis makes three main points in this letter:
- God has never abandoned the covenant with the Jewish people, and the church "can never be grateful enough" to the Jews for preserving their faith despite the horrors of history, especially the Shoah, the Hebrew word for the Holocaust.
- God's mercy "does not have limits" and therefore it reaches nonbelievers, too, for whom sin would not be the lack of faith in God, but rather, failure to obey one's conscience.
- Truth is not "variable or subjective," but Francis says he avoids calling it "absolute" -- truth possesses us, he said, not the other way around, and it's always expressed according to someone's "history and culture, the situation in which they live, etc."
- Original Letter in Italian: Papa Francesco scrive a Repubblica: "Dialogo aperto con i non credenti"
- English Translation: Pope Francis writes to La Republica: "An open dialogue with non-believers"
- Spanish Translation: Papa Francisco escribe a Repubblica: "Diálogo abierto con los no creyentes"
- "Pope, writing in secular newspaper, urges dialogue with nonbelievers" By Francis X. Rocca (Catholic News Service, 11 September 2013)
- "In latest sensation, Francis writes nonbeliever to urge dialogue" John L. Allen, Jr. (National Catholic Reporter, 11 September 2013)