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Pope Francis: God has redeemed everyone, even atheists

Pope Francis: God has redeemed everyone, even atheists

Vatican Radio cites Pope Francis’ words at morning Mass that everyone is called to “do good” because all are redeemed in Christ:

“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.”

It is worth wondering whether or not Pope Francis will soon be charged (hear criticized) with universalism, not unlike the public cries against Katharine Jefferts Schori and Rob Bell. One can now argue that a “progressive Christian, a Catholic pope, and a popular evangelical” are all saying a similar thing…

Also worth noting these powerful words by Pope Francis: “To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”


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Murdoch Matthew

Unverified quote from Benjamin Franklin:

“With regard to future bliss, I cannot help imagining that multitudes of the zealously orthodox of different sects, who at the last day may flock together in hopes of seeing each other damned, will be disappointed, and obliged to rest content with their own salvation”


This sounds to me like a restatement of what helped cause the reformation in the first place. Works vs. Faith. I think I would be more excited if he had said doing good out of Love, no matter your faith, or lack of faith, is a sign of having God in your heart and opens the door to salvation. I wonder if an atheist, who has love in there heart, would chose to ignore God’s offer of salvation when offered out of Love.

[Thanks for commenting DaveB, please sign your full name next time. ~ed.]


While the discussion here has been interesting, I think it’s based off a fundamental misunderstanding of what Pope Francis said. There’s a distinction drawn in Roman Catholic theology between redemption and salvation. Redemption is the possibility that Jesus extends to humanity, through the cross, to accept salvation, but is not itself salvation.

Francis has elsewhere said that it is impossible to know Jesus except through the Roman Catholic Church. This isn’t universalism by any stretch of the imagination, but pretty standard Catholic doctrine.

Josh Rodriguez

Bill Ghrist

@Chris: You miss the point of the parable with regard to the older brother. He is not “kept out,” he refuses to go in. My take on this interpretation is that God extends the invitation to all, but some of us make ourselves into creatures that are incapable of accepting the invitation.

But more to the point, in my opinion, is your apparent assumption that the purpose of being good is to get a reward or avoid punishment after we die. I am rather put off when I go to church with my Baptist relatives and the main emphasis is on whether you are going to heaven or hell. Making that the main purpose of life seems to me to be the ultimate in self-centeredness, which is completely opposite to Jesus’ teachings. Furthermore it represents a misunderstanding of what it means to be invited to be a part of The Kingdom of God, which starts in the here and now, not just some future time.

Frankly, I do not think it is possible for human comprehension to understand what “eternal life” is like. I simply trust that God has my best interests in mind and that God’s expressing of himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (God’s Word) is the assurance of that. My response to that should be to live this life in a way that honors that assurance. I also do not presume to know that others who have not heard that assurance in the same way as we who follow Jesus are by definition incapable ultimately of accepting the invitation, even if they are not expecting it.

Ann Fontaine

Exactly June. I always love the Rabi’a quote:

“O God, if I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,

And if I worship You in hope of Paradise,

Exclude me from Paradise.

But if I worship You for Your Own sake,

Grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.”

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