Atheists are good if they do good, Pope Francis says

VATICAN CITY Wed May 22, 2013 5:21pm BST

Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience at St Peter's Square at the Vatican May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience at St Peter's Square at the Vatican May 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tony Gentile

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis said on Wednesday in his latest urging that people of all religions - or no religion - work together.

The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics made his comments in the homily of his morning Mass in his residence, a daily event where he speaks without prepared comments.

He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus.

"Even them, everyone," the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. "We all have the duty to do good," he said.

"Just do good and we'll find a meeting point," the pope said in a hypothetical conversation in which someone told a priest: "But I don't believe. I'm an atheist."

Francis's reaching out to atheists and people who belong to no religion is a marked contrast to the attitude of former Pope Benedict, who sometimes left non-Catholics feeling that he saw them as second-class believers.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Michael Roddy)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (10)
rswardrop wrote:
What about catholics?

May 22, 2013 7:07pm BST  --  Report as abuse
zzmacman wrote:
This is a very dangerous statement by the Pope as it directly conflicts with divine scripture: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God/there are none righteous, not even one Rom 3:10,23 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8-9. And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Heb 11:6 I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one can come to the Father except by Me. John 14:6. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 Yes we should all try to abide by the second half of the greatest commandment of love thy neighbor as thyself, but to claim that this leads to salvation is pure heresy. Christ did die for all, but only those who accept Him as Lord and Savior will be spared from God’s wrath: He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18. To say otherwise gives a false sense of hope and security to all non-believers and what the Pope just said is the most unloving statement a person could say. The Pope SHOULD know this!!! Maybe the Malachi prophecy will be right after all….

May 23, 2013 6:05am BST  --  Report as abuse
madasHamlet wrote:
Perhaps the Pope is more aware than you are how much of “divine Scripture” has been altered and intentionally mistranslated by man. In case you have forgotten, Christ loved all, whether they believed in His divinity or not. Why should the Pope not do the same?

May 23, 2013 6:56am BST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.