In his address on the 22nd of April 2013 the Pope said (among other things):
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.
Hard to argue with the sentiment of that – except if you’re a Vatican official named Father Rosica, who in his Explanatory Note on the Meaning of ‘Salvation’ in Francis’ Daily Homily of May 22, ‘clarified’ the Pope’s statement as follows:
… all salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body. Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her.
Catholics do not adopt the attitude of religious relativism which
regards all religions as on the whole equally justifiable, and the
confusion and disorder among them as relatively unimportant. God truly and effectively wills all people to be saved. Catholics believe that it is only in Jesus Christ that this salvation is conferred, and through Christianity and the one Church that it must be mediated to all people.
So – as Hendrik Hertzberg (whom I thank for alerting me to this fascinating material) blogged – am I going to Hell or not? I’ll stick with the Pope on this one (he’s supposed to be infallible, after all).