Vatican: Oops, Atheists Still Hell-Bound
Looking a little toasty for Protestants, too
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2013 1:37 AM CDT
Updated May 29, 2013 8:05 AM CDT
Atheists won't be allowed into the heaven they don't believe in, the Vatican says.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

(Newser) – Pope Francis' admission that atheists are capable of doing good has been followed by a Vatican statement clarifying that the church still believes atheists are going to hell. In a corrective statement that suggests people misunderstood the pontiff's remarks, a Vatican spokesman stresses that the church believes all salvation "comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body," meaning those with awareness of the Catholic Church who "refuse to enter her or remain in her ... cannot be saved," Salon reports.

The spokesman also makes it clear that church doctrine considers salvation off-limits to members of other religions and other branches of Christianity, although people who have never been exposed to Christianity might still have a shot. "Catholics do not adopt the attitude of religious relativism which regards all religions as on the whole equally justifiable," he writes. The pope's original comments, in which he said the "Lord has redeemed all of us," were welcomed by surprised atheist groups, the Christian Post reports.

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May 30, 2013 1:28 PM CDT
The Catechism paragraphs mentioned by the Vatican spokesman are CCC#846-848 ( The author misinterprets those comments as stating that atheists will go to hell. However, if there is a real impediment for any soul in identifying the Church, which is Christ's body, as the gate to salvation, it may be possible for such a soul to go to heaven. Additionally, the author is incorrect to state the Church's position as condemning to hell other religions also for the same reason. In Catholic teaching if such a non-Catholic were to go to heaven, they would do so through the Church even if they were not united to the Church "formally." The article's author is apparently unaware of the concept of invincible ignorance. In other words, the majority of this article is factually false. The Church has no teaching that any religion is absolutely "hell-bound," and the author will not be able to discover any such claim in Church teaching, including in the statements he falsely interpreted in the article. There is far greater depth in Catholic theology than many in the media are interested in discovering, instead advancing fanciful, false caricature's of actual Church teaching. And rebuttals to Church teaching like "hater!!" isn't much of a rebuttal either - it's merely the childish response of someone who does not have an actual rebuttal.
May 30, 2013 12:13 PM CDT
When I kick it. I'll be cremated. So much for the eternal fires of hell. I'm a devout atheist and the god that I DON"T believe in is BETTER than the other gods that the muslim, jewish, buddist, hindu, etc. atheists don't believe in! ;>)
May 30, 2013 10:02 AM CDT
"Oops - sorry everybody. I forgot for a minute to preach hate for your fellow man in the name of religion. I'm OK now."