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Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate
Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the end of his weekly audience April 10 at the Vatican.
May 23rd, 2013
03:59 PM ET

Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) -– American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers, saying that the new pontiff's historic outreach is helping to topple longstanding barriers.

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”

Francis continued, “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.”

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis' outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.

“I gather from this statement that his view of the world's religious and philosophical diversity is expanding,” Speckhardt said. “While humanists have been saying for years that one can be good without a god, hearing this from the leader of the Catholic Church is quite heartening."

He continued, “If other religious leaders join him, it could do much to reduce the automatic distrust and discrimination that atheists, humanists, and other nontheists so regularly face. “

Francis’ comments received a great deal of attention on social media, with a number of people asking whether the Catholic leader believes that atheists and agnostics go to heaven, too.

On Thursday, the Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning to ‘salvation.'"

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who aware of the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”

At the same time, Rosica writes, “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”

Rosica also said that Francis had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation,” during his homily on Wednesday.

Although the pope's comments about salvation surprised some, bishops and experts in Catholicism say Francis was expressing a core tenet of the faith.

"Francis was clear that whatever graces are offered to atheists (such that they may be saved) are from Christ," the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a conservative Catholic priest, wrote on his blog.

"He was clear that salvation is only through Christ’s Sacrifice.  In other words, he is not suggesting – and I think some are taking it this way – that you can be saved, get to heaven, without Christ."

Chad Pecknold, an assistant professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, agreed with Zuhlsdorf, pointing out that the pope’s comments came on the Feast of Saint Rita, the Catholic patron saint of impossible things.

“The remarks about atheists show that there is even a saint for atheists,” Pecknold said. “Including all of humanity, on this day especially, remarks like that are almost called for.”

“To stress that the gospel redeems all people, including atheists, is the teaching of the church,” he added. “This is an objective fact that the church believes.”

Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, said Francis' comments reflect “the interfaith and inter-community work many of us nontheists are dedicated to.”

That said, Epstein hopes that lay Catholics are listening.

“I hope Catholics, and all people hearing the pope's statement, will recognize that his words about atheists need to symbolize much more than just a curiosity or an exception to the rule,” Epstein said. “If someone thinks there are only a few atheists out there doing good just like Catholics do, that's a major misunderstanding that can lead to prejudice and discrimination.”

The pope’s comments come a few months after he told worshipers that Catholics should be close to all men and women, including those who don’t belong to any religious tradition.

"In this we feel the closeness also of those men and women who, while not belonging to any religious tradition, feel, however the need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God, and who are our precious allies in efforts to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation,” Francis said shortly after his election as pope in March.

Even atheists like David Silverman, president of American Atheists, who has had an antagonistic relationship with the Catholic church, welcomed the pope’s remarks.

“While the concept of Jesus dying for atheists is wrong on many levels (especially given that Jesus himself promised hell for blasphemers), I can appreciate the pope's `good faith' effort to include atheists in the moral discussion,” Silverman said.

“Atheists on the whole want no part in Catholicism, of course, but we are all interested in basic human rights.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (3,731 Responses)
  1. stayinalive

    Nothing surprising here. The Catholic Church never had a foundation in the teachings of Yeshua from day one. If you want "Catholic salvation", just do what the Pope says. If you want the true salvation, read what the Bible says. Yeshua clearly stated that all unbelievers will be destroyed at the resurrection. The idea or concept of salvation for everyone, regardless what they believe or do, is foreign to the Bible. But hey, go ahead. Believe whatever makes you happy.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • Atheist Do-Gooder

      I suppose that would be true if the bible were anything more than legends and stories passed around by ancient man (a fact.) Since I believe there is no heaven, and there is no god, (neither of which I know for sure, and cannot be proved one way or another by man) I'm not particularly concerned. I live a good life and that's it. If there is a god, and he punishes me for using my logic and intellect to rightfully conclude he didn't exist, then I'd rather be out of his graces since that seems very un-godlike of him to me.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • look2west

      "Catholics never had a foundation of teaching"? Jesus didn't set aside Peter and give him the keys of Heaven? "Peter, upon this rock I will build my church" "Feed my sheep" the Catholic church has an unbroken line back to St. Peter. The Catholic Church was the only Christian church for over a century until people started breaking away from it. It's a historical fact. And people broke away because they wanted to do their own thing...King Henry wanted a divorce; Luther had scrupolosity issues....

      May 24, 2013 at 7:41 am |
  2. Matt

    If you don't believe in God, why worry about whether there is heaven or not and whether you will be allowed in?

    May 24, 2013 at 6:55 am |
    • Mirosal

      it wouldn't be an issue at all if the jeebus freaks would just shut up and quit trying to push their agendas into my public schools and civil legislatures. Keep it in your monuments to mythology.. I mean churches, and your homes, and everything would be copacetic.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • Abort the Pope

      I don't worry about idiotic religious crap. I despise any pedo-priest or any pedo who smirks and says he forgives people.
      When a criminal smirks and says he forgives you, it is long past time to arrest him and execute him. He should not be free.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:44 am |
  3. Grafted Olive Branch

    Thank you Francis for being a peace maker.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:53 am |
  4. Mark

    It is apparent as I read these blogs that so many non-believers are believers. You rant as you have the right to do, yet refer to God and heaven as if they exist, which they do. You guys are so close to actually becoming believers in the greatest sense, you just don't know it yet. You are a bunch of Paul's roaming the earth almost there, and you will all be the zealots for Christ out of love for your brother. Your time is coming.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • midwest rail

      Arrogant presumption.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:51 am |
    • M

      Meant in the most respectful manner, have you read Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason," or, is your faith not strong enough to withstand a simple test? Truly, no disrespect intended in my challenge.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:54 am |
    • Mike

      We also talk about Voldemort being evil. Doesn't mean we believe he exists.

      PS: "your time is coming" is very spiteful and unbefitting of a soldier of God.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • Mark

      M-Being a former atheist, I have read many accounts on both sides, and went to Jerusalem, sought people to speak with on both sides of the aisle. My life was changed as my belief in God and Jesus grew.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • M

      So, Mark, I will take that to mean that you will not take up my challenge, at least right now. That's ok, but it will always be there.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • Mark

      Mike "your time" was referring to your time as a believer. That is a good thing, by the way it is all personal. I have in the past on this blog referred to an exceptionally rude atheist as his time being short. That's my human shortcoming. But Jesus stills love that atheist while there is still time.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Mark

      M- Have you read Mere Christianity, and or Evidence That Demands a Verdict. I will if you will;}

      May 24, 2013 at 7:06 am |
    • M

      No, but being a former Catholic, I read "the" book, the only one which counts in the minds of most Christians. And then I read "The Age of Reason," and then coupled with my human experiences, it all made sense. It would be nice to know that there is a greater being than myself, one not as portrayed by the bible or religious folks, but I have no evidence of such a being. However, just as with science I tend to believe what has been shown, I also keep my mind open in case something else should be shown. But all proof to date, or the lack of it, says otherwise. The interesting thing is that The Age of Reason is completely compelling without science.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:15 am |
    • Mark

      M-I understand your questions about faith being raised catholic. My wife was a former catholic, but now a "Christian":} The"church" has done very evil things over the course of history out of selfish ambition, which biblically is wrong. My relationship is personal and not based on any church doctrine or church leaders edicts. I trust fully that if you give God a chance in your quiet moments away from the white noise you will be pleasantly surprised.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • newsrell

      Sorry, also seen believers clinging to old/hateful belief that heavens is reserved for believers only, and thus calling pope a liar. Crumbling faith within your own rank ? Split of the church eventually ? possible, at any rate, more likely than heaven, which does not exist outside of earth...

      May 24, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Mark

      Too many fragments I couldn't follow.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  5. Grafted Olive Branch

    Truth is...I don't have much use for the Pope "office" either, I have a direct route to God, that would be Jesus Christ. The Pope is simply a brother in Christ. And I love him as such.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • M

      That does appear to be the appeal of the newly evolved Christianity – that you can have a personal relationship with God and don't need a go-between. It's definitely an improvement over who can provide the best offerings/sacrifices, like in the old days, because poor people could not afford to make such great sacrifices/offerings. Truly, this is more affordable – I see why it's harder to turn down. But, Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason" is more compelling, and will free your mind so that you can be a better person, or at least start on that journey.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:09 am |
  6. Kebos

    Hogwash! Pure and simple. Atheists could care less on whether or not they would be admitted Into this non-existent realm.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:44 am |
  7. Grafted Olive Branch

    My faith in Jesus Christ is the hope I got.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:42 am |
    • Are You Serious

      You seek out in the world. Where is he? Not the Vatican or churches, temples or mosques. Look inside and you will find the Real Christed One. That is a level of consciousness available to all who seek. Even Buddhists, Hindus and ...muslims (the really peaceful ones).

      May 24, 2013 at 7:11 am |
  8. FreeFromTheism

    I think it would be more accurate to say that nobody goes to heaven (or hell for that matter).
    Religion is a social construct, nothing else. Gods are ideas–concepts that are perfected over time for various reasons.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • jimmer

      maybe ....but you and I both know you will be second guessing yourself on your death bed.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:49 am |
    • M

      But to play both sides, you'll have to be honest and admit that believers will be thinking the same thing....

      May 24, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      no we don't
      you just like to believe that because you think that the idea of your deity is that powerful
      well, it isn't

      May 24, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • Bryan Turner

      @Jimmer Nah most of us will be demented and unable to recognize our own kids, or realize we're even in a hospital let alone contemplate the existence of god, just saying.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:59 am |
    • M

      Turner – Ha! Very true, very true!

      May 24, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • nightowl

      .... Perfected over time.....?? If today's religions to be are considered "perfect", boy, I sure am glad I did not live when they were being perfected!
      The wretched nature of religious dogma is one of the KEY factors that is causing the agony of protracted wars, yes, even today. Even WWI and WWII had nothing to with religion per-se.
      That said, Pope Francis' words are truly encouraging – especially for agnostics such as myself – not from the 'hope' of 'me too can go to heaven' but the overdue acknowledgement that the catholic church is opening itself more to 'common sense and reality. Think about this, if a recognized/well accepted Muslim leader (yes, it does not sound too realistic) says something similar, it would certainly bode well for humanity overall. Assuming of course the recognized/well accepted Muslim leader would not be killed the next day for being a blasphemer.
      Again, very refreshing, encouraging and long overdue acknowledgment from the head of the catholic faith. Pope Francis, you have made me less wary of the organization/group/section that you lead. May your tribe increase:-)

      May 24, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • Are You Serious

      From where do YOU resonate? That is where you are going. Can't create it, you can simply BE. Give it a name or keep it nameless, it does not matter.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:14 am |
  9. Bryan Turner

    From an Atheist to the Pope I say well played sir good game.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:39 am |
  10. Yarah

    The pope is a devil for saying something so stupid. No wonder I left the Roman Catholic Church.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:32 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      Yep, every time someone says something you don't like, they're the devil.
      Fantastic reasoning.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:40 am |
    • Science

      Yarah Yeah the old pope kicked the angels with pitch forks off team last xmas so no horn-y red devil either !

      The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

      HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

      Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

      May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152638.htm

      Evolution wins............No red devil either !

      Fish From Hell! The Worlds Strangest and Bizarre Sea Creatures!

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mderEHfR6K4&w=640&h=390]

      (EA) FÓSILES, FOSILIZACIÓN Y PALEONTOLOGÍA.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw1cRg9oKTc&w=640&h=390]

      Prehistoric shark captured on film

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mneDhOtVEQw&w=640&h=390]

      Thai Researchers Discover 100-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Fossile

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwD_hjq_V7U&w=640&h=390]

      And they are still EVOLVING AYE !!! The BIG CHOMP

      Giant Crocodile Captured Alive in Philippines 21ft long http://WWW.GOODNEWS.WS

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2z7sKW0cXU&w=640&h=390]

      May 24, 2013 at 6:48 am |
  11. Grafted Olive Branch

    If you miss the cross of Christ, you miss everything.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • M

      No, not true – we (and you) are capable of incredible kindness – it's part of our human nature.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • Yarah

      You are 100% right.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:28 am |
    • Michael

      I practice spontaneoius acts of random kindness on a daily basis. I live by the strictest code of honor possible. I live a life closer to what Christians aspire to without being a Chrsitian. The one node or the other lies within the breast of the individual, not who they associate with or say they believe in.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • Toyota_Tundra

      Absolutely! No Christ, no heaven.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • Bryan Turner

      Not according to your supervisor apparently ^^^^^

      May 24, 2013 at 6:36 am |
    • Grafted Olive Branch

      I do not deny that atheists or other non-believers are capable of kindness and goodness. It just wont get you anywhere with God. All your goodness and kindness, while may be of value to your neighbor, is only a clanging cymbal to God.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Are You Serious/

      Considering that the Catholic Church INVENTED the Bible and even JESUS! The Universe does not know that the Pope even exists. The real Being they later named Jesus after doesn't care for the Pope. My big smelly toe has more holiness than the Pope.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • Grafted Olive Branch

      Truth is...I don't have much use for the Pope "office" either, I have a direct route to God, that would be Jesus Christ. The Pope is simply a brother in Christ. And I love him as such.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Jeff

      The Pope said this because to believe otherwise would mean that God is a self-absorbed monster who cares only to be worshiped, rather than about acts of kindness. Unfortunately, these comments show that many of us still use our belief in God as a tool to attack others, as a wedge to seperate us from groups we dislike, as an excuse to cut off all reasoned debate and devalue the views of others.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • Science

      Toyota_Tundra\

      Great truck................pulled some real big stony irons out of the ground with mine.

      Also can pull the shuttle.

      Peace

      May 24, 2013 at 7:20 am |
  12. Z

    Was spiritual and believed in Higher Being. Now with some difficult situations in life I ask....Where is the Higher Being? A little glimmer of hope....NONE. I think positive thoughts from within yourself are your Higher Being. Working, living and going about daily life is your Higher Being. Our mortality commands the higher being within us and nurturing family, friendships and people in general. Heaven is life. What happens after is wasted in theories not needed. Just an observance.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • M

      Very well and respectfully put – thanks for sharing.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:23 am |
  13. Juanito

    Do not believe this lie. Scripture is specific that the only way the Father is through the door, which is Jesus Christ.

    The Word of God is specific that our good deeds are like filthy rags(historical reference point to menstruel rags) to God. It will not matter how little old ladies you hold the door open for, or,walk arcroos the street, how many lives you save from physical death, or anything else. Good works alone will not get you to the Father.

    If you truly believe that Christ died for your sins and was Resurrected, you accept His sacrifice for your salvation and repent from the things that seperated you from God(sin), you will be saved from damnation. That's His promise.

    And yes, you can do this now or be like the thief on the cross and accept Jesus on your deathbed. He could only ask to be remembered by Jesus, and could not do any 'good works' to help get himself to Heaven. The biggest problem is that you, or anyone else, wont know when we will die and may never get to have the chance to do this.

    His gift is totally free. It's up to each one of us to accept Him.

    In His love, Juanito.

    May 24, 2013 at 6:16 am |
    • M

      No, I must say that human beings are not vile creatures, as your post implies. Put down your Book, and open a book on reason, and you can learn about kindness through our basic nature.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:22 am |
    • Grafted Olive Branch

      You are exactly right.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:23 am |
    • Mirosal

      There are 2 billion Christians on this planet, There are FIVE billion who aren't. So you're saying that your "god" who supposedly created us all is willing to send 5 billion to an eternal place of fire torture pain tears gnashing of teeth and water-skiing on a lake of fire (but he loves us!!) Your god is a sadist of the highest caliber.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:27 am |
    • newsrell

      It is hilarious when a follower calls his highest, most respected god representative a liar. Problem inside the church ? faith crumbling ? Dispute with your own priest ? the pope is trying to repair the hateful image of the church, of threatening hell to non-believers, it's ancient, hateful, revengeful, not worthy of a being supposed to be benevolent. And here is a follower still held up with old practice. The truth is already known by atheists, they don't care since it's a fantasy anyway, but your disagreement with your own church shows signs of crack of your own belief. Maybe you are the one who will be banned from heaven for disagreeing with god rep ?

      May 24, 2013 at 6:34 am |
    • Mark

      No he loves you Mirosal as much as he loves me, however, it is not a free pass. You actually have to believe in him, and his ultimate sacrifice. As all powerful he had no obligation to save you, but he chose to through his son.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:39 am |
    • Reality

      A 21st century summary:

      The Apostles'/Agnostics’ Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (references used are available upon request)

      May 24, 2013 at 6:41 am |
    • WASP

      @juanito: if your "god" does as you claim and sends 5 billion to hell verses 2 billion christians then when the war of souls between heaven and hell happens you folks are soooooooooooooooooooo sc-re-wed. XD

      May 24, 2013 at 6:43 am |
    • Are You Serious

      That is the biggest lie in this World Dude. You based it on the Bible and that was invented by the Romans. The Catholic Church is an abomination. The Jesus you read in the Bible is not even a real person but a construct of several Myths put together at the Council of Niscea in the 3rd century. Open your eyes and see the lies.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Mirosal

      Mark... what if I choose to completely throw away Christianity (I already have though) and decide to embrace Judaism or Islam .. am I still going to hell? It's the exact SAME god after all. What then? Are all Jews and Muslims going to hell simply because they don't pray to your jeebus zombie?

      May 24, 2013 at 6:52 am |
    • Mark

      Mirosal..not my call. I know what I know about my salvation. Not my place to judge.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:10 am |
  14. richunix

    Now he is starting to sound like the car dealership down the road "Jack say's YES to every deal"

    May 24, 2013 at 6:04 am |
    • Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim

      <button>Like</button>

      May 24, 2013 at 7:02 am |
  15. jason

    that's not FAIR , I might as well just be an atheist then if they get to go too

    May 24, 2013 at 5:56 am |
    • M

      No, because your motivation to be atheist would be wrong.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:01 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      We don't just get to pick what to believe or not believe.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:32 am |
  16. Bill

    I didn't know that the Pope decided who gets into heaven.

    May 24, 2013 at 5:56 am |
    • M

      He doesn't, but we can each decide that we simply need to be kind to each other just because it's the humane thing to do, and not because there's a perceived reward (which I don't believe).

      May 24, 2013 at 5:59 am |
    • Mike

      Who does, then? The men who wrote a ludicrous storybook called The Bible thousands of years ago? The charlatans who perpetuated its fiction as fact for all the years in between? The indoctrinated masses who believe it?

      The Pope gets to decide just as much as anybody else does, seeing as it's an attempt to answer a question that doesn't actually exist. He'd do just as well to announce that atheists can now visit Narnia.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:53 am |
  17. Laid Down Lover of God

    The Pope is spewing lies, and taking the world to hell with him! Salvation comes ONLY in obedience to Jesus Christ. There is no other name by which men must be saved. If the Pope preaches a different gospel, then he is anti-Christ! Period.

    May 24, 2013 at 5:54 am |
    • M

      My friend, a little less coffee before you post ....

      May 24, 2013 at 5:56 am |
    • bob

      OR, or, and I know this is hard for you to believe,but the pope might know juuust a little more about Christianity than you.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:01 am |
    • M

      The Pope may know what it may mean to be more Christian, for that is his business, but he may not know what it may mean to be more humane, which should be everyone's business.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:03 am |
    • Guest

      Whatever you hold true on earth, so too shall I hold true in heaven. Or something like that.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:10 am |
    • Juanito

      @ bob:
      Although Knowing Christ is supposed to be his business, No, the Pope doesn't know Scripture. If he did, he would know what he said is a lie.

      The pope is playing in a popularity contest, and trying to make people feel good about their separation from God.

      Our salvation in not contingent on degree of the relationships we have with other, but on the relationship we have with God.

      Those choosing not to have a relationship with God in this life will not be condemned to live through eternity in His kingdom with Him after their life here.

      In His Love, Juanito.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:33 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Juanito: Your apparent salvation is apparently contingent on faith (properly defined as belief without evidence). Do you happen to care that what you believe is substantiated by evidence or do you accept every story you read a fact without looking for evidence to support it (especially one like the buybull)?

      May 24, 2013 at 7:28 am |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    May 24, 2013 at 5:50 am |
    • The real Tom

      Didn't do a thing for the folks in OK.

      May 24, 2013 at 5:52 am |
    • M

      Actually, atheism is healthy because it allows us to realistically view an issue and hopefully provide a reasoned response.

      May 24, 2013 at 5:55 am |
    • Milo

      Wow... it's not crack.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:00 am |
  19. yup

    of course, the atheists will do all the dishes and cleaning in heaven for us believers

    May 24, 2013 at 5:47 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Nope, I wouldn't wash your dishes or serve you. IF heaven exists, maybe your imaginary friend is choosing us over you due to the fact that we were smart enough to question its existence instead of simply being gullible by reading 1- 2000 year old book.

      May 24, 2013 at 5:56 am |
    • Mark

      Truth-p..you will come back I promise:}

      May 24, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Mark: Come back?? Not to your god and certainly not in the manner that christians present it.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • Mark

      Truth we have a history and I feel his love for you.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      What history? The bible?? The bible has been debunked over and over again...no global flood. no resurrection, no virgin birth-none of those things can be proven with substantiating evidence. It is you who deserves pity for not living the only life you are guaranteed of to its fullest.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:18 am |
    • Mark

      Truth by history I meant you and me.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:19 am |
  20. terri

    The Catholic religious structure teaches that it is above God and that God is required to follow its decrees. That is not what the Bible teaches and the current pope's statements that heaven can be achieved through good works regardless of beliefs is not what the Bible says either. According to the Bible, God says that He is jealous of and does not share his power. Further, the only way to heaven is to believe on the Son and accept Christ's righteousness. Good works is the result of thankfulness to God, not a price/cost to enter heaven.

    May 24, 2013 at 5:44 am |
    • bananaspy

      God is jealous? Is jealousy really an attribute of a being that can crush everything else out of existence? That makes absolutely no sense.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:14 am |
    • Mirosal

      of course "god" is jealous ... read the first commandment. Pure jealousy there. "He" is quite the selfish deity. "He" is as childish and has his tantrums just like the Greek and Roman "gods".

      May 24, 2013 at 6:35 am |
    • Michael

      Good works are the result of religious thoughts? I respectully and wholeheartedly disagree. I refused the chakles of religion when I was but a tyke of four (well over half a century ago) and priactice random acts of kindness on a daily basis. Flod victims, tornado victims, anyone needing a spot of help will get it from me. My life has been honorable – I don't lie, steal or cheat; I'm blind to a person's color, gender or country of origin ... and I make an honest effort to be as non-judgemental as possible. Compare that against what I see coming from those that profess to be devout Christians (and other major religions) and I will take my life over theirs any day of the week. The hate, bigotry, et al, that I hear some preachers spew would embarrass your lord and saviour, should he ever reappear.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:43 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.