What Vatican and Pope Francis Really Said About Atheists

This morning I came across an article in the Huffington Post entitled: Vatican Confirms Atheists Still Going To Hell, Despite Pope Francis Remarks. As I googled words reflecting this article, I found blog after blog reproducing in one form or another the title of this blog and its focus on atheists going to hell, and inferring that Pope Francis was absolutely heretical in his homily of May 22, 2013.  The Vatican, as I googled even more, turned out to be Basilian Priest. and Founder of Canadian Salt and Light Television and Fr. Lombardi’s appointee to the English world during the Conclave. (Here is a link to and article about Fr. Rosica’s role prior to and during the Conclave in Rome: Toronto’s Man at the Vatican: Fr. Thomas Rosica.)

Papa-Francesco-and-TR-2web-580x385 Fr. Thomas Rosica (right) C.S.B., meeting Pope Francis on March 16, 2013

Now I know Fr. Thomas Rosica because he gave a wonderful and inspiring retreat in our Diocese a number of years ago. I also listened to his helpful insights and reflections prior to, and during the Conclave, and have followed him on Salt and Light Television. How could Fr. Tom have made such a distasteful statement? Well he didn’t! Here are his exact words on Zenit: Explanatory Note on the Meaning of ‘Salvation’ in Francis’ Daily Homily of May 22

I encourage you to read the full article (above). In the article which is inspiring, hopeful, and deeply clarifying, there is not one word that could possibly be misconstrued to say that all atheists are going to hell. Here is what Fr. Tom gives as his reason for writing the article in the first place:

“I have received numerous calls and messages throughout the day yesterday and again today regarding Pope Francis’ daily homily in the Chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae on Wednesday May 22, 2013.

Your questions can be summed up under three categories:

1) How can atheists be saved?

2) Is Pope Francis describing some kind of “anonymous Christianity” at work in the world today?

3) What are the implications of the Pope’s homily for daily living?

I have prepared some brief thoughts and responses to these questions. They flow from my own theological studies, from five years living in the Middle East, in a Christian minority in Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt as well as working in Interreligious dialogue with Jews and Muslims for many years. I have also had much to do with atheists and agnostics on secular university campuses in Canada.” READ FULL ARTICLE

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