The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert’s satirical news program, came back from summer hiatus with a theology-packed episode last night, thanks to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.
Dolan was there to talk about his e-book, Praying in Rome: Reflections on the Conclave and Electing Pope Francis, and the conversation quickly turned to some of the more eyebrow-raising observations that the newly elected pope has made in recent months.
Among these was Francis’ May statement that “even the atheists” have been redeemed through Christ. When Colbert – a practicing Catholic, both as “Stephen Colbert” and in real life – accused Francis of being “soft on sin,” Dolan offered this take on Christian soteriology:
“You don’t go to mass to win heaven, right? You go to mass to ask God for help to get you there. You go to mass to thank Him for being such a great God that He wants you to spend eternity with Him. That’s why you go to mass. You don’t go to win heaven, because we can’t earn it. It’s a gift and He wants to give it to all of us, even atheists.”
What do you make of Dolan's explanation? You can watch the full conversation in the clip below. There’s also a second installment of the interview that can be found here.