There is this article, where the Pope says that “atheists” can be saved, if they do good deeds. huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/pope-francis-good-atheists_n_3320757.html This seems to be at odds with the oft-repeated maxim that one cannot be saved by “works” alone. No matter how helpful and good life one leads, without “faith” it amounts to nothing. If the Pope was speaking ex-cathedra, then an important part of the “message” must be re-evaluated. If the Pope did not speak ex-cathedra, it is still a very important and significant “deviation” from the previous teachings.
Your conclusions are faulty, because you misunderstand what Francis was saying.
Note that he didn’t say “saved”, he said “redeemed.” There’s an important distinction there. Francis was simply reiterating Catholic & Christian belief: Jesus’ sacrifice redeemed the world. (What each individual’s reaction to that sacrifice is, determines whether they’re ‘saved’ or not.)
Francis was not claiming that anyone – atheist or not – is “saved by works.” We all have the potential to ‘do good’, Francis asserts, and calls us to meet one another there, in the activity of doing good.
The press (and, God love 'em, HuffPo) grossly misinterpreted the meaning of the Pope’s words, making it seem like he was contradicting Church teaching. Here’s your hint: if you want to understand the pope, don’t look to the Huff for analysis – ask someone who understands Church teaching.
But the Pope said:
"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… “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!”… 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.”
Sounds very clear. No misinterpretation. Observe, he did not say “we **MAY **meet there” - he said “we **WILL **meet there”. Of course both the hard-liner Catholics and many Protestants are upset about it. There is no difference between “redeem” and “save”.
You have misunderstood where “there” is. You seem to believe he is saying we will meet in heaven. No, he is saying we will meet them “there” as in “where they are”. We will meet them in the soup kitchen, in the homeless shelter, or wherever it is that they are doing good.
That is where evangelization starts, by meeting people where they are.
Yes, there is.
Yes, but where’s there?
You seem to presume that he’s talking about ‘heaven.’ Rather, we – believer and atheist – will meet in the recognition of our common nature in the performance of good deeds.
There is no difference between “redeem” and “save”.
So says you.
That’s not a reasonable theological assertion, though. ‘Redemption’ and ‘salvation’ are two distinct theological concepts in Catholic theological thought.
Don’t just take my word for it, though: here’s a blog post by Jimmy Akin, discussing this homily.
See this article to help clear up your confusion:
1ke is correct. He said we must meet doing good. Hopefully we all meet in heaven. See also Media falsely represents Pope on atheism.
Don’t read atheist agit-prop like the Huffington Post if you are tempted to believe their nonsense.
Yes, without a doubt, Atheists, Buddhists, JWs, Mormons, Muslims, and yes even Catholics, may find their way into heaven.
Peace and all good!