Pope Francis came out with an astounding statement
last week: doing good is sufficient to redeem atheists.
"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.”
Of course if you've ever been in a Christian church, you know that this is flat out heresy, but he's the Pope, infallible and all that. The Vatican backpedaled
clarified the Pope's position today.
It's just selling the Catholic version of Salvation through good works, in my opinion. The message just says, in my opinion, God will accept all good works, even those from atheists; however, in my opinion, the inference is that Salvation through having the spirit in one's heart (and reading the bible) may be just so much wasted time.
It's called expanding one's market base. In effect, Catholicism will have a monopoly on who goes to Heaven, if it makes room for atheists. I would guess that at a later date the Vatican announces that Jews, Muslims, and Protestants can also go to Heaven, if they are "good" (in their works). It's expanding the customer base through good marketing, in my opinion.