(Closed) Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed

posted 7 years ago in Catholic
Post # 3
2522 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

I’m not a practicing Catholic as of last year but I remember the late John Paul II saying something along the lines that people can find God/eternal life/whatever through other religions.  I think that if somebody is seeking the Truth, what is ultimate and is being honest with themselves and does not believe with the best of their conscience there exists a God, then I honestly believe that they will not “perish.”  I don’t know what I think, people get in fits about this sort of stuff.  I hold the belief that a God all Loving and all Good would not condemn someone that He Loves but that’s so not Catholic, or even protestant.

Catholics, especially the traditional ones, do not agree with what I just said.  I do recall many of my RCIA teachers stating that the only truest way to God that they know personally is through the Catholic Church.

Post # 4
2792 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

I was baptized Catholic and was quite active in the church until I stopped going over 10 years ago because of the sexual abuse scandal. (Tangent: wow, I hadn’t realized it was that long ago until now. That makes me sad.)

It always bothered me that I was supposed to look at God as if He were a petty and vindictive entity while being taught that He was all about love. The idea of barring good people from heaven based solely on their lack of belief just didn’t jive with a message of an all-knowing, understanding, JUST, and FORGIVING God. It seems like a huge injustice that a person who lived a life of good deeds, kindness, etc. would be arbitrarily banned while some Sunday-only Catholic had a golden ticket. I know it’s not that simple, but I’m boiling it down to the gist of the message I received. 

Kudos to Pope Francis for this message. It heartens me to hear it and gives me hope for the future of the church.

Post # 5
137 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2018

As a younger catholic (30 years), I guess I grew up in a time where catholicism was more hopeful and lighthearted (compared with that of my parents’ or grandparents generation). I have always held the belief that if someone leads a ‘noble and good life’ in this life, then they will be rewarded in the next. I would determine someone as leading a good life as a person who is giving, unselfish, forgiving, kind, etc, doesn’t necessary have a religion. I know many catholics and non-catholics alike, that go to church EVERY sunday, and spend the rest of the week on their soapbox looking down on the rest of us, judging those who don’t live up to their standards. But if you were to take a hard look at their own lives, would fall short of anything that could be called ‘kind, generous, or forgiving. I guess we just need to live our lives, and hope that we can make the world a little brighter by trying to be forgiving and helpful to those around us.

Well done Pope Francis!

Post # 6
6354 posts
Bee Keeper

That’s totally bizarre to me.

I was raised Catholic and told that once I commit the sin of despair (that is, not believing there is a god), I will go to hell. No matter what happens after. It cannot be undone.

Murder, rape, torture, genocide…all potentially forgivable. There was only ONE UNFORGIVABLE SIN: the sin of despair (disbelief).

This made my divorce from the church that much easier! I realized that I already truly, wholly, definitely, didn’t believe, and there was no point in worrying about whether I might be wrong about it, seeing as no matter what I would do or believe in the future, I definitely, certainly, would never be redeemed by the Roman Catholic god.

Now he’s saying that don’t even have to believe in their god, I can just be a good person (which is what I always strive so hard to be), and in their eyes, I can be redeemed? That is so accepting, I find it eerie. It’s such a kind gesture, but after having felt so rebuffed for the past 20 years or so, I feel wary…

I hope he really said and means it! I would love to feel more… conciliatory to the Catholic church. I would never “re-marry” it (irreconcilable differences to be sure…I’m still atheist) but at least I could keep it in a warmer place in my heart. We could be friends.

Post # 7
5543 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: December 2011

Well,  call me closed minded but as much as I would like this to be true,  what I understand of scripture just says its not. If it were true that salvation through Christ wasn’t needed then He died for no reason,  which I do not and cannot believe. There are multiple places throughout the Bible that say there is only one way to Heaven. As much as I respect the Pope (I’m not Catholic) I don’t believe he has any particular more insight to the will of God than anyone else who takes time to study and learn and listen. And I think this time he is wrong. 




I would never suggest that good, ethical people stop doing good things but Christ clearly brought a message that it is through faith alone one is saved,  not through works. No one was ever good enough to earn Heaven,  that is why Jesus had to come. Again, would I love if everyone came to faith in Christ?  OF COURSE!  But I don’t think everyone will and I don’t think everyone will go to heaven. Tragic but true. It isn’t because I hate anyone or wish hell upon anyone at all, I just believe scripture in it’s entirety.




Also  Christians get a bad rap for being so un- inclusive, but please remember the basis for almost all religion is the idea they are right and everyone else doesn’t get it yet. Ask an imam or Jewish priest about who gets to go to heaven. Even more inclusive religions like Buddhism or Hinduism don’t think everyone will achieve heaven or their equivalent. 




Post # 8
2587 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - UK

I was raised a Catholic (and am getting regular updates from my mother on her ‘journey of faith’ course), although I am a probably what is considered a disinterested Catholic really – I’m pretty chill on most of the ‘major’ issues, and only really go to church on the holidays. I always understood that good people went to Heaven, regardless of their beliefs. I understood that that concept of “by faith alone” wasn’t held by the Catholic Church, even if it was by other branches of Christianity. I think it’s always something good to reaffirm though.




Actually, the concept of ‘Sola Fide’ (faith alone) was actually at one point considered an offence worthy of excommunication from the Catholic Church – there’s more information on it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sola_fide




ETA: It’s funny, I literally only had the conversation about this with my FH and mother last Saturday, which is how I know about the term ‘Sola Fide’. Strange how these things all come up. It strikes me as interesting as well that doctrinally Catholocism is against the idea of excluding people from heaven based on their faith, despite being considered one of the more conservative and ‘hard line’ branches of Christianity, yet Protestant branches (which I’ve always perceived as more open and relaxed for the most part – barring some more extreme Baptist and Evangelist groups, who I knew held these beliefs) are apparently built very much on the idea that it is only through faith you are saved. It’s really fascinating.




Post # 9
4655 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

Nice of him to reach out, I guess. My FH is going “lol thanks, like I needed it” but I genuinely see this as a move in a positive direction and appreciate the note – and yes, as a fairly vocal atheist who does her best to reach out and help others, I can tell you SOMEONE with authority NEEDED to say this. (I’m sure some people have seen the polls showing atheists as the least trustworthy group in the US.)

What really got to me though were all the comments on the artice I read about this from self-proclaimed catholics saying he is WRONG and atheists are always horrible no matter what they do. Like, really? You can’t get on board with “doing good things is good regardless of your religious beliefs”?

I know that’s not all catholics by a mile (thankfully) but it sure is unpleasant, and besides, I thought the pope was supposed to be like a supreme authority or something. If he takes a position, aren’t his followers supposed to agree? (I could be wrong about this, it’s just what my catholic grandmother always told me.)

Anyway, maybe this signals progress! 🙂

Post # 10
11231 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

BAM. Thanks, Francis. I’m more Agnostic than Athiest, but you can be a good person without being religious, and you can be religious without being a good person. I appreciate the recognition.

Post # 11
1406 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

@vorpalette:  ITA!!!

I’m not Catholic but a Christian that is more “spiritual than religious” if that makes sense. I’ve attended many different types of churches my whole life and I can’t pick one specific one to “become.” 

My sister is agnostic and is seriously one of the sweetest people I have ever met in my life. She gives money, time, etc. to animals and people in need. I’m a pretty caring person but I wish I was as half as caring as her. I have to say the thought (put in my head by various churches) that she would be damned to hell b/c she wasn’t a true believer really upsets me.

She works w/some “holier than thou” people that cheat on their spouses, beat their kids, and are addicted to prescription meds (they work in a pharamacy) and still they tell her she’s going to hell b/c she doesn’t go to church. This is something that upsets her b/c she is a good person w/a good heart and she honestly (and I can’t begin to explain either) how these people think they’ve got the golden ticket to heaven b/c they attend church. 

Post # 12
11231 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

@texasbee:  Seriously. I work with some people like this. We did a charity drive around Christmas for a couple of local homeless shelters–guess who refused (yes, refused, vehemently, and then complained that I was sending out too many emails about it) to donate or even help at all? And then he goes on and on about how he “does so much” with his church and how he “doesn’t get” why non-Christians even bother to get married because “it’s not real if it’s not in a church” and “marriage is religious.” Mmmmmmmmmokay.

Post # 13
1123 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

Despite your religious/or lack of beliefs, of course athiests are good people. Who ever would just deem them “bad” because they are athiest are definately ignorant people. And as unfortunate for the church as it is, the number of kind and unjudgemental people in the althiest background outweigh the number in the church.

But, as far as I know (I am no expert), there are certain ways to get into heaven and simply doing good deeds is not enough. Although of course good deeds is a wonderful thing. But one scripture that comes to mind 

Matthew 7:21-23 (one of my favorite passages for personal reasons)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!” <Spoken by Jesus in the New Testament. I love this scripture. It proves that many of the claimed Christians who think they automatically have a place in heaven, proves that not all of them do and they have to work for it.

A more fitting scripture that comes to mind though (and I’m quoting scripture because the faith is based on this scripture)

Matthew 22:35-40 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him and saying “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”. Jesus said unto him, “Though shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”

It makes me sad to think that not everyone will have a chance at eternal life. And perhaps, as my outlook goes (because I don’t know much about the bible) those who believe there is nothing after life, will get nothing after life, which is far better than eternal suffering in hell. Perhaps they will get more but the scriptures in the bible say otherwise and I cling to the words Jesus spoke. 

It’s not that the Christians want anyone to go to hell, true Christians wouldn’t want anyone to go to hell and would want everyone to have a chance at eternal life, but we are all given a choice on which path to lead, some people stray from faith and some people hold on to it tightly. It’s ultimately our decision to make thus making it our decision what will happen after life. If we are determined to go to heaven, we will follow the bible and do our best to follow the word of God, otherwise, we follow our own path and we accept the consequences of said path.

Unless the Pope has legitimate scripture to quote to prove this, I’m afraid what he’s done is ghastly innappropriate as it says in the very last page in the very last verse in the bible: Revelations 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

But I don’t see any scriptures he is quoting so perhaps this is his belief, which he is entitled to. However in scripture it also says the ever famous verse: John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believith in him shall not perish but have an ever lasting life.

We all have our views on what the bible says and what it doesn’t say and in general I do believe athiests can be redeemed, but I do believe this takes faith, that they must wish to be redeemed and must have faith in God and in Jesus. 

I’m no biblical scholar so I may be off but this is my opinion on the matter.

Post # 14
2874 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

I’m also fascinated. This is a universalist view and not something i would have thought to be compatible with the catholic church.

@kris325:  the scripture used for this seems to be:

ho gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:6). The definition of Christian Universalism DOES INCLUDE THE BELIEF that God “will have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).

sorry about all the italics/caps ive copied and pasted it from a site. that does seem to be the only references mentioned in support of this view

there are several sites against it however. ill have to research it more when its not 2.30am!

Post # 15
1161 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Interesting declaration! Of course there are atheists who are amazing and kind people, just as there are some “Christians” who are sucky and poor examples of Christ. But as a protestant who does not believe that good works=redemption, I do not believe what he’s saying.

God is a God of love, but He’s also a God who is true to His word. And His word puts it plain and simple that there are only two places you can go after you pass, and your destination depends on whether you accept or reject Him in this life. It says plain as day “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” It doesn’t say “If you live a good life it doesn’t matter if you reject my Son in this life. He came for no reason basically, and your salvation is of your own ability lalalalaaa.” It also says (paraphrase)  “Broad is the path that leads to destruction, and many will follow it.” And “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to destruction.” I truly believe these 2 examples refer to people trying to justify themselves through their works instead of being justified through their faith in Jesus.

I don’t wish anyone would go to hell whatsoever, but I’m not going to create my own doctrine just because I wish it weren’t so. Plugging my ears and closing my eyes doesn’t make the reality of a situation go away. I think everyone should read the scriptures themselves to see exactly what it says about different issues such as this one. 

Post # 16
804 posts
Busy bee

@texasbee:  Also so true in my experience – a few very religious people I’ve met (not just catholic, I should add) have been the most unforgiving and judgemental. I find this hard to wrap my head around. Of course, I also know nice and kind religious people too.

I went to catholic school for two years aged about 9 – 11 and to be honest, as someone who was never baptised it was a bit over the top. All the guiltiness was very wrong. I’d feel SO guilty if I stole a cookie from the cookie jar at the age of 10 and think I was going to hell. If Pope Francis really means what he says, then at least it’s less horrid than what was preached to me and will help me feel less bitterness towards the catholic church.

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