Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, in a recent homily was cited as saying that Atheists may be able to go to heaven through doing good. The story gained momentum through publication on the Huffington Post.
However, if we actually read his remarks, we see that wasn’t at all what he actually said:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Now, at a careless glance we may assume the conclusion that by Pope Francis responding at the end of the above paragraph; “we will meet one another there” that he is referencing “going to heaven” by “there.” But of course, “heaven” was never mentioned. What his statement does say, is that we will meet one another in doing good. Which is starkly different than the alluring title set to a ratings-seeking-headline of “Pope says Atheists Go To Heaven.”
Accepting the Blood of Christ, is of course the staple-point of the Catholic faith, that which, according to Catholics and Christians, is what makes a human being a Christian.
The Catholic Church has issued a “clarification” of his remarks. But of course, if journalists had simply read his remarks without humping to far-reaching assumptions to fit into the narrative they wished to publish – that wouldn’t be necessary.