"The Lord has redeemed us all with the blood of Christ, all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone," he said. Some may ask, "'Father, even the atheists?' Them, too. Everyone."
Well, who'd have thought?!
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them." -John 3:36It seems the Pope gets to ignore the gospel of John when he quotes the gospel Mark (on which he bases his homily)! He's the POPE for Christ's sake!
It would also be pertinent to note that the Catholic Church has been teaching for centuries that only catholics can go to heaven. In Unam Sanctam, the Papal Bull issued by Pope Boniface VIII in 1302 says,
"Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."This stance was seen as too outdated and the second Vatican council did a near about face. As the "Assessment of this Council", written to spell out the council's conclusions in terms that the lay public could understand says,
"The non-Christian may not be blamed for his ignorance of Christ and his Church; salvation is open to him also, if he seeks God sincerely and if he follows the commands of his conscience, for through this means the Holy Ghost acts upon all men; this divine action is not confined within the limited boundaries of the visible Church."If you can attribute an atheist's non-belief to ignorance and if the said atheist is somehow said to be seeking God, then yes, salvation is possible. If you are willing to go through mental gymnastics, then yes indeed, anything is possible!
Make no mistake, the Pope's message of tolerance is to be welcomed, of course. The idea of inclusiveness is also quite welcome too! The world could certainly do with more tolerance and less bigotry!
What is funny however is the Christian insistence on cherry picking and looking at verses atomically. One understands why, of course. Take the Bible as a whole and you get a messy goo of inconsistencies and God begins to look like he has multiple personality disorder.
Update:Not so fast atheists, says the Vatican.
The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who aware of the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.Perhaps, the Pope was referring to atheists who enter and remain in the Church! Ha!
At the same time, Rosica writes, “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”
So, here is the new Rock-Paper-Scissors game in town: Pope-Jesus-Vatican!
The Pope overrides the Bible's message (John 3:36)
The Bible guides the Vatican
The Vatican "clarifies" the Pope's statement
Update 2:While the pope seems to have said that atheists have been redeemed by Christ's blood, he need not have meant that atheists who do good will go to heaven.
Here is how it could possibly be interpreted: Christ redeemed us all (from the original sin or all sins). That does not necessarily imply that we, atheists get to go to heaven! Well, no one says theology is easy!
Note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly claimed that John 3:36 were the words of Jesus. It is has been updated to correctly note that those are the words of John the baptist.