The Vatican has issued a new statement running counter to Pope Francis’ recent suggestion that good deeds can earn atheists entrance to heaven.
The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said in what was described as an “explanatory note” that those who know about the Catholic Church “cannot be saved [if they] refuse to enter her or remain in her,” United Press International reported.
Father Rosica also added, UPI reported: Those “who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ and His church, but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience, can attain eternal salvation.”
Some see Father Rosica’s statements as running contrary to what Pope Francis said on May 22.
Then, the pope said that redemption was available to all — “not just Catholics,” but “even the atheists. Everyone,” UPI reported. He then went on to speak of doing good to others, talking specifically to atheists when he added: “But do good — we will meet one another there [in heaven].” UPI reported.
After the Vatican issued its “explanatory note,” noted British scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins wrote on Twitter: “Atheists go to heaven? Nope. Sorry world, infallible pope got it wrong. Vatican steps in with alacrity.”
And author Neal Donald Walsch, who wrote “Conversations With God,” said to UPI that “it was regrettable that the hidden hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church chose to officially retract the recent statement on eternal damnation bravely made by its new leader, Pope Francis.”