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
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

(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. dsilviano

    FYI, infallibility does not mean the Pope cannot make a mistake, and this is no comment on what he said or meant, just to let you know. Infallibility means that the Spirit keeps him from making errors when pronouncing doctrine "ex cathedra" in union with the Bishops of the world. This was a message of his beliefs and in no way means we must believe in what he said.

    May 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • sam


      May 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Adam C

      haha. All that crazy stuff we believe doesn't apply when its something we don't like. Makes sense.

      May 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • Roger

      You don't need to defend what he said. He made no error. Redemption and Salvation have different concepts in Catholic Theology. Being "redeemed" in the universal sense is not "going to heaven". It is fair to say that Jesus is the Savior of all men – (1 Tim. 4:10). But it is not accurate to say that all men will be saved. Just as sin entered the world through the disobedience of the first man Adam and all mankind was sown into sin so then through obedience of the second man, Jesus Christ, all mankind will be sown into righteousness. (For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. – Rom. 5:19) Thus in this sense mankind has been redeemed and both the Atheist and Christian share the same saving act of God through the blood of Christ Jesus. Being reconciled to the Father as opposed to separation they commonly shared through Adam. But it does not mean that all men will come to Him or respond to His goodness.

      Secondly, no where does the Pope say that Atheists "go to heaven" . Instead where the Catholic and Atheist should meet is "in doing good" and we both should meet one another there. Below is the complete text of Pope Francis’ comments so that you can see how the media has gone off track with his words:

      "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.”

      May 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
      • Julia

        TY good info on article.

        December 26, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
  2. Vic

    Wow! That rings the bell!


    May 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Billiea lot of sand can be trapped between urls you know BILL and VIC


      May 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Cora how are the cats and Vic ?

      https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/5XRFKX8N...............url for you chadie !

      But in favorites or peg IT OK !


      May 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |

      May 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  3. stuart

    This has always been a bit of a paradox. The bible says that just as one man condemned the entire world (Adam – original sin) so one man (Jesus) saves all. No one chose to inherit Adam's sin, so it makes sense that no one needs to choose to be saved. And Paul backs this up, saying that our actions will not save us. But, then most Christians say we must have "faith in Jesus" or we don't get in. How does this make sense? It seems to me the Pope is now saying it doesn't, that faith criteria, which separate Christians from atheists, is not necessary. This is a big step theologically, as groundbreaking as a Pope retiring (perhaps even bigger).

    May 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Read the pope's statement again and use the clarification if needed.

      Jesus saved mankind by his life, death and resurrection.
      If you don't believe in that, we welcome you to join is in whatever good works we may do.
      If you know of the Catholic church but remain apart from it, you cannot be saved.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Jonas

      You need to keep in mind that all religions are invented by men.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Science

      Bullsh-it BILL !

      Hey Billiea lot of sand can be trapped between urls you know BILL !


      May 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • sam

      See, Bill, I think the reason I hate that so much (aside from the fact that it's absolutely crackers) is that I always hated pass/fail tests in school. So unfair. I mean, geez. Give a kid some credit for demonstrating most of the ideal stuff, huh?

      May 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • sam

      HAHA OMFG 'cracker' is on the forbidden word list?? Come ON, CNN! Who wrote this filter?? I have yet to meet a white person who gives a rat's ass about being called a cracker.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • David

      One of the key differences between Martin Luther's understanding and teachings as opposed to the Catholic Church is the "Faith alone" concept. Protestant religions put faith in Jesus before all else. Catholics, not so much. If I'm an agnostic or atheist and don't "believe" in Jesus, don't belong to a religious group, but otherwise serve others well and am morally upstanding, not believing in Jesus Christ isn't going to keep me out of heaven. That's what the Pope is saying, and what a practicing Catholic should believe.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Hey sam. It's not really pass or fail. It's more like become a part of the body.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Technically true David. However, I would challenge any Catholic to earnestly attend mass, practice the sacraments and study the faith and not end up believing in Jesus as the Savior.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • sam

      Become part of the body...or else.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • redruM redruM

      Join your fellow killers in your heaven Bill, you would have made a great Grand Inquisitor.

      May 23, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • southmost

      The statement seems say that only Jesus can get you into heaven, but, since his ways are mysterious and not for us to judge, you might not necessarily need to accept him in this life. Which is fine by me; I'm a big fan of the idea of post-deathbed conversion. If Jesus were to reveal himself to me after I'm dead, I'd consider that to be some pretty significant evidence of his existence, and adjust my worldview as necessary. In the meantime, I'll just be good.

      May 23, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
      • Julia

        I know some people would criticize that, but I say that's a good fair statement and I certainly would be a huge fan of post-deathbed conversion!

        December 26, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      One thing people misunderstand about Catholicism is the interpretation of the Bible. We, as catholics, take the Bible as God's word through metaphorical writings with historical implications. Example: for literal Bible Thumpers, which creation story do you believe in; God created earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th, or the Adam and Eve story? This is where I believe true Catholic theologians have it right through proper interpretations. Once this is understood, visualizing the essence behind the church's teachings comes into clearer focus.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:31 am |


    Hebrew Elah Truth absolute, God of Abraham By Moses

    Aramaic Elohim Truth absolute, God of Abraham by Easu, Anointed one, (Jesus)

    Arabic Allah Truth absolute, God of Abraham by Mohammad, spirit of truth.

    Word GOD, Truth absolute, constant.


    May 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • ob@ma 2012

      Allah rhymes with Blah Blah Blah

      May 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm |

      Only to a hindu denier of truth absolute in life by his hindu atheism, crocked self center ism.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Athy

      Hindus are the absolute truth. Hindus are the best people in the world. Hindus are way better than muslims. I really like Hindus the best. Hooray for Hindus. So there; take that, Islam foundation absolute ism. And it's CONSTlTUTION, not CONSTI TUTION.

      May 23, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  5. BioChem_Catholic

    Its a sad day when people take this as an opportunity to bash on the Catholic faith. To put it in simpler, and in a friendlier manner than some of my fellows Catholics. this isn't a message entirely of what you believe in, its a message proclaiming that we can find common ground in being good human beings. A common ground that can help us tolerate each others beliefs, and maybe even surpass them and have a better society. I know I'll probably get flamed for what I've said, but if that's the case. Then you only impede a chance at a better integrated society.

    May 23, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Science

      BioChem_Catholic a lot of sand can be trapped between urls !!!


      May 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • sam

      He's being pretty nice for a pope. At least this one is trying.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • chris

      The pope, dsilviano, according to scripture is infallible. You can try to spin it any way you want, that's what Catholics are notorious for, justifying the injustifiable. while perpetuating hegemonic patriarchic hierarchical control as a perceived authority figure. Indeed, the so called "church" is not an authority on anything except exploitation. Shameful.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I like big words too chris. But let me try some small ones. Infallibility isn't scriptural and it doesn't include everything the pope says.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Bryant Lister

      No need to tolerate my beliefs, I don't have any.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • southmost

      Nice words, Bio; you've captured the spirit of secularism. Secularism is based not the rejection of religion, but the acceptance of life in *this* world, empirical reality, as the common ground we can all agree on. To this you are free to add whatever embellishments and beliefs you like, so long as they don't drastically harm our common mode of interaction.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • Canada

      Catholics... you are sooo lost in tradition and choreography that you've lost what it means to search for Jesus in your heart.
      You would see just how many things you do in abomination to the Words of God. calling the Pope for instance his 'holiness' that put's him on par with Jesus and God, not right. Falsely fathering a Man (priest or father) so that now you people confess to a man(who he himself is a sinner), not our Father in Heaven. Just read the Bible, it tells you how you should pray. Why don't you listen to the words, instead of the Church? You're priests wear scarlet, gold and silver, and your Church (the Vatican) sits between the 7 hills. just like the Evil church in Revelations. the Catholics changed the Sabbath! Church is meant to be on Saturday! not Sunday! it says so in my Bible! Where better for Satan to deceive you then by posing as an angel of light! Trust in what is written, not who you claims to tell you the Truth.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  6. Believe God

    Read the Bible

    May 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Just Call Me Lucifer

      I did. I own slaves, just like god said I could.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • We WereOnTheMoon

      Yes, then ask yourself, who wrote it? Then ask yourself again, do you believe in God or what someone else told you about God?

      May 23, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • sam

      Thanks for the super helpful advice.

      The problem is, reading the bible is what chases some people away. From...whatever it is we're supposed to be believing.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • FreeThinker

      Most atheists have read the Bible and that is how they become atheists. I love having discussions with theists because I bring up things in the Bible that they have not even read. If you were to actually read the Bible you might actually see the true light....or.....maybe you are just so far gone there is no hope. The Bible is a book of stories by men over two thousand years ago who thought the world was flat. Curious question....if a man or woman were to come out today and say he/she is the 'son/daughter' of god, would you ridicule them for it and think they were crazy?

      May 24, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • jayluv

      I do read it, and its great!

      May 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      I read the bible. Many times. It's why there's no way I could be a xtian.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • DOG

      I did, that's why I don't believe.

      June 6, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  7. We WereOnTheMoon

    That's OK, Papa, we forgive the believers to, just as long as they don't kill anymore.

    May 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  8. desert voice

    Just as we have the word "papabile," we urgently need the word "hevenbile"! This is the problem here. The person must be hevenbile to be assured of heaven! Not having this word yet coined, the Pope was unable to explain that no person who rejects the Church's moral teaching is hevenbile. However, this status is fluid, pending on each person's conversion! Pope Francis reminded, that people should not reject the teachings of Christ forever, which sin is unforgivable in the afterlife hence it is against the Holy Spirit! The atheists should thin about this while they have time!

    May 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • sam

      So my question is, as long as you convert to Catholicism before you die, you're fine?

      May 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Baalzabarber

      his statement is proof that mankind doesnt need the church

      May 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Madtown

      people should not reject the teachings of Christ forever
      People who have never heard of Christ cannot reject or accept his teachings. God is almighty, created this vast and complex universe. He's not powerful enough to distribute a simple message(Christ and his teachings) to all his earthly creations, if it's that important?

      May 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • We WereOnTheMoon

      Would it hurt if Christ told everyone how important it is to wash hands? No, realy, millions of lives could be saved , but it took another 2000 for a doctor to figure how bacteria spreads.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Science

      desert voice............a lot of sand can be trapped between urls !!!


      May 23, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Confused

      "We WereOnTheMoon
      Would it hurt if Christ told everyone how important it is to wash hands? No, realy, millions of lives could be saved , but it took another 2000 for a doctor to figure how bacteria spreads."

      Perhaps part of Christ's message was that this life is not as important as your spiritual life?

      Matt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

      May 23, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  9. Way Upstate

    Good article and welcome words from Pope Francis.

    Where the article refers to a "tenant" of his faith I'm hopeful it meant a "tenet" of his faith.

    May 23, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  10. Colin

    In other news, Walt Disney said that even Peter Pan liked atheists and atheists could get into Never Never Land

    May 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  11. Raoul Duke, Jr.

    This presumes there is such a place as heaven. As it does not exist, why all the hoopla about this statement?

    May 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Samu

      I'm going to take a shot in the dark here... You're an Atheist.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • LCB

      Raised a Catholic in the 1950's – we were taught that "outside the Church (Catholic) there is no salvation" –
      Guess that dogmatic belief has now gone the way of no meat on Fridays, and fasting before communion?
      Glad I escaped all that 'hooplah' when reaching the true age of reason – 21 years...never have regretted the choice to disassociate from ALL belief systems!

      May 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon


      May 23, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Canada

      @ LCB – Because you were taught the lies and abominations of the Catholic church. You do not have to fast, or pray to the Roserary, and The Mother Mary, you do not have to be afraid of excommunication with a church like many Catholics are threatened with because you did this wrong, or that wrong. True Christians do not Judge a person's actions. But we do condemn the abominable practices of Catholicism and Islam. Firstly Catholicism because it has all the inherent beliefs of Christ, and their believers have a bible in hand and SHOULD know better! then Islam, for reasons that are obvious to even those who sit on the fence.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  12. Truth Seeker

    Pope just spat in Jesus face. Still believe in infalliability Catholic brotheren?

    May 23, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • JC

      He did not in any way spit in the face of Jesus. In fact, it is what Jesus himself taught and what the Church has been teaching for the past 2,000 years. Redemption is not salvation. All humans have been redeemed but it is their choice whether or not to be saved by putting their faith in Christ. What the pope said is nothing new to the teachings of Catholicism or against Jesus.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Bryant Lister

      How do you spit in the face of a fairy tale character?

      May 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Canada

      @ JC, no it isn't. Our Lord made it very simple for us. I mean come on, there is really only 2 laws. Believe in Jesus, and Treat your neighbours with love. There used to be a whole set of laws, and mosaic law. Jesus kinda helped us out there... don't shame everything he's done by saying you don't have to believe in him . Which, no matter how you try to spin it, is What the Pope said, Even if it comes differently to you in your mind, remember not everybody is thinking what your thinking. therefore, it's likely the obvious message, as oppose to some "underlying" message.

      May 24, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  13. De Gueb

    What do Atheist care what the pope or a freaking Muslim thinks or belives is going to happen to them or us when we die.

    signed Atheist.

    May 23, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Alias

      I care because the largest religion in the world may finally have a leader who is telling christians to act like christians are supposed to – and is leading by example.

      May 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Colin

      Agreed. What would it matter if he said "God/Allah/Buddha hates you and wishes to destory you"?

      May 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Chuckles


      I don't care what the pope says as much as how the message will filter to the masses of people who do care. It's the same reason why international folks watch American elections. How a president conducts domestic policy is no thang to a person in France, it is important however what their international policy is.

      May 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  14. derp

    This kind of lays to waste the whole, "I'd rather believe in god and be wrong, than not believe in god and be wrong" BS.

    Guess what christards, we will be right there in heaven with you.

    Suck on that!!

    May 23, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Incredible lack of communication skills among atheists. No wonder you guys can't comprehend theh Bible. That is not what the pope said derp sorry.

      What he said is that whether you believe it or not, Christ passion was for all mankind. Catholic theology holds that there are two events that occur for salvation. The first is God's grace which we witness at the crucifixion. The second is man's acceptance of that grace. Your denial of the gift doesn't negate the sacrifice, it just means you have refused the gift.

      Further, the pope says that even if you deny the giver you may still accomplish good works in the temporal world. The pope also encourages Catholics to engage with people of all beliefs or none to do such good works. Those works don't mean any of us are getting to heaven.

      May 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Alias

      Anyone who thinks the bible makes sense has no right to criticize others comprehension and communication skills.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • JC

      Salvation. Redemption. Two different things. This teaching is nothing new.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      correct JC thank you. You are more concise than I.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Maya

      Thanks, Bill, for perfectly displaying the arrogance that is prevalent among Christians. If we don't believe in the Bible, it's because we don't comprehend it. We comprehend it just fine. We just know it's a load of BS.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Maya, arrogant I may be, but how do you explain the widespread misinterpretation of the popes rather simple statements today? Can you then extrapolate that confusion to the widespread debate on the meaning of various Scripture?

      May 23, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • John

      Seems to me Bill Deacon is in denial about what the Pope said. He clearly said, without qualification, that even atheists were redeemed and welcome in Heaven. Now, the Vatican put the kibosh on that, but that IS what he said. All this mumbo jumbo from Deacon is just silly.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Joey

      I find the fact that Bill thinks the only reason people don't believe in the bible is because they can't comprehend it. Personally, I have read it cover to cover several times, I was able to comprehend it, and thus I was able to declare it to be absurd.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  15. Rusty Yates

    So the pope has taken it upon himself to let me into heaven. Whoopie. If he had one to let me into I'd be impressed.

    Do you think Santa has me spotted as a good boy this year? Do I get the new bike?

    May 23, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Santa doesn't care about good boys; he just wants to know where the bad girls live.

      May 23, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Julia

      No, I saw the full quote – he was saying that people can do good on earth together regardless of their beliefs.

      December 27, 2013 at 12:14 am |
  16. Alias

    The Vatican had to release a note explaining.

    The bible contradicts itself in many places.
    The pope contradicts the bible.
    The vatican explains and christians go on believing.

    May 23, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  17. Heretic

    They just figured out they are losing, and want to be friends now.

    May 23, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Science

      Feeling the HEAT maybe ?

      May 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • MayaJourney

      Business is bad..........

      May 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Yep..they have the largest religion in the world...they sure are losing.
      Are you stupid or something?

      May 23, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Alias

      They are losing members in all developed parts of the world.
      That is losing.

      May 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Get back with us when Christianity has under 2 billion members of the faith.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Ladervijd

      If we talk about ethics and Socrates, then that was about 2500 years ago, so long before post-"enlightenment" humanists, atheists, ... So or so, while there surely is plenty of respect for the philosophic and political work of Socrates, that itself doesn't mean that everyone who read, thought and talked about the things would agree with him from particularities to it not really being that comprehensive about many points.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      nothing is less important than the score at half time

      May 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Billiea lot of sand can be trapped between urls you know BILL !


      May 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  18. Athy

    So which is it? Do we get to go to heaven or do we go to hell? Fortunately, I'm not worried since neither one exists. But this should piss off some of the christians who think they have exclusive rights to heaven. That just tickles me pink!

    May 23, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You and others have misunderstood the point.

      What the pope did not say: Anyone can be good
      What the pope did say: Anyone can do good

      What the pope did not say: Doing good saves mankind
      What the pope did say: Jesus saves mankind

      What the pope did not say: Jesus died for his favorites
      What the pope did say: Jesus died for all.

      This is nothing new. It is the catechism and has been

      May 23, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Bill ...............CHOKE !

      May 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • B

      So this is actually a non-article, meaning nothing.

      May 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The best meaning I can see is that Francis seems to have a simple way of stating Catholic teaching in a way that grabs people attention.

      May 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
    • Madtown

      What the pope did say: Jesus died for all.
      That's indeed good, as long as it's truly for all, with no notion of needing to follow him. People who've never heard of him can't follow him, and with God as powerful as he is, no doubt he could easily distribute knowledge of Christ, and Christ's message, to everyone.

      May 23, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      madtown, Your complaint has appeared several times in the last few days. It was dealt with as late as 1964 in the Lentum Genium of Vatican II:

      Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.

      Any real issues?

      May 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • sam

      The 'no fault of their own' thing is a pretty big loophole.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Billiea lot of sand can be trapped between urls you know BILL !


      You know the ...........red horn-y devil; and the bed Vroooooooom !

      May 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Madtown

      It was dealt with as late as 1964 in the Lentum Genium of Vatican II:
      Hey Bill, actually I don't think it's really ever been dealt with. There are people are earth at this very moment with no knowledge of Christ. That's all I'm saying. God is powerful. If any particular doctrine had all the answers, and was God's choice for the preferred doctrine for us ALL to follow, God is certainly powerful enough to diseminate it.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • grassroots1

      Bill Deacon:

      Yours is the typical, response by another run-of-the-mill, Papal cheerleader. Ohhh, Newsflash, the Roman church and its Grand Poobah is always right. All the other Christian sects are wrong regarding any Biblical interpretations. Even Non-Theists, such as myself, who have studied the Bible for decades, could not possibly be correct, unless we agree with the Holy Poop's interpretation.

      Poor communication skills and misunderstanding of the point, is the forte of all Non-Catholics who dare dismiss the pointless revelations of this Witchdoctor, who is also head of the one of the Worlds largest cults.

      Praise be. The Holy Poop is extending a peace offering to the wretched Heretics, Blasphemers, and Atheists. Let us all bow down to this Papal clown and kiss his Fisherman's ring. My aren't we blessed that he is opening his arms to us, rather than spewing forth the usual condemnations of dozens of previous clowns who held office, before him.

      False, faith-healing of a child in a wheelchair, feigned humility of the washing of convicts feet, well publicized payment of a hotel bill, for all to see. Goodness, isn't Francis just the paradigm of the perfect Christian cult leader.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      madtown. You can say it hasn't been dealt with if you need to in order to hold onto your opposition but I've given you the name of the papal letter, the date it was published, copied the text for you, and it is supported by the pope's statements today. I think you are only showing me that some people will not come in out of the rain no matter how warm the fire inside may be.

      May 23, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • JMEF

      Looks like Frankie is going to make some changes in order to keep the scam up and running. You cannot abide change can you BD. You poor frightened pathetic wretch, deal with it.

      May 23, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • John

      Maybe this is mean to say, but I think it would take an incredibly forgiving God to want anything to do with Bill Deacon. Why is it the more intolerant people are the more they somehow think they are God's Chosen? Is it because their disagreeableness has gotten them rejected on Earth that they look for and become zealous about acceptance in the afterlife? Maybe I'm getting to mean and personal with this, but if I were God and I was looking at Bill Deacon's comments and holier-than-thou-ism I'd probably still let him into Heaven (cause I'm a nice guy), but I'd probably make him jump through a hoop or two first.

      May 23, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • John

      And I guess as a follow up, I think one powerful reason a lot of us atheists don't believe in your God is because your God is such a triumph of low expectations. I think your average good person has more good qualities than the Christian God as he is portrayed. I mean, if I were in charge of who went to Heaven and who went to burn for eternity in Hell, I'm a pretty modest guy – if someone didn't believe in me or had issues with my worldview, I can appreciate that. I wouldn't punish someone for not believing in me. I just don't have the ego to do that. And the last thing I would want is someone who worshipped me. What miserable lowlife of a person wants to be worshipped? Any remotely good person wants equals, not subordinates. Surely any REAL God would want equals, and to the extent he was God and everyone else was far below him, surely he wouldn't want them to mewling around singing HIS praises. To the extent that God is a "model" of behavior – it's like their vision of God is a corrupt King or a Mafia don or an angry Volcano God or something. Can't you people imagine an actual, good, God? Have you never actually met a good person in real life? Why wouldn't a good God be like a good person?

      May 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Madtown

      I've given you the name of the papal letter, the date it was published, copied the text for you, and it is supported by the pope's statements today
      That's great Bill, however....you're simply bringing up 1 version of man's notions regarding God. The papal letter, irrelevant to someone who doesn't know Catholicism exists. Interestingly....let's just say there's another culture that's been granted the "1 true message" by God, and you are unfamiliar with it. Couldn't it be? Sure it could.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • SCOTTA.

      come back from burning in hell after you die and tell me it doesnt exist. you will believe its real when youre there! and you will know GOD exists when you stand before HIM in judgment.

      May 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  19. Reality

    Too little, too late as the RCC and Christianity in general crash to the ground in a thunderous tornado of flawed history and theology:

    To wit:

    Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    May 23, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  20. Atheist in Heaven


    May 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Atheist in Heaven

      NO GOD

      May 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Atheist in Heaven


      May 23, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Atheist in Heaven


      May 23, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • sam


      May 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • grassroots1


      So Catholic bashers are preventing tolerance of others beliefs, which may lead to a better society. My guess is the reformers of the Middle ages would have wanted to experience such tolerance from the Roman church-cult, instead of being tortured and murdered for having different faith in the same God.

      The only time the Roman church-cult has extended the olive branch of tolerance is when it wanted to manipulate itself into a position of authority and power. Now is no different than any time throughout history.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • test


      May 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
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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.