Atheists, Agnostics and Good Works

Pope Francis, in his weekly homily, referenced Mark 9:40 where Jesus says: "Anyone who is not against us is for us." He went on to say this about how believers should view the good works of nonbelievers:
“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.”
I like this perspective. Many folks I know either do not believe in God or are on the fence regarding faith. Yet many of these do good things and help those who suffer. By all means we should be grateful for their good works.


  1. I like this, too. It reminds me of what Jesus says about the sheep and goats. Some of the ones who didn't even know they were serving God were included in the Kingdom.

  2. On Huffington Post, it made this sound more like Pope Francis was leaning toward a type of universalism. What do you make of that? If what you're saying here is all that he means, I'm on board. Not so much if the HuffPo is accurate.

    1. I read that too Jason. I think that some could read his statement ...

      “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 come away thinking that he was endorsing some sort of Roman Catholic Universalism. I did not see it that way as RC theology is not consistent with that view but can understand why some would take his words that way.

    2. Here's someone who agrees with you, Bob.

      I find it fascinating that the author cannot make the desired point by quoting the Pope himself, but needs to quote a father who happens to believe traditional dogma. That father unwraps the Pope's statements in a wholly self-satisfying way. The author even goes so far as to wish for the return of Ratzinger. I expect that will become a theme among a large portion of the church if Francis keeps saying things as vague and inflammatory as this statement. I would not be surprised to see the smoldering signs of schism in Catholicism break into open flame, and soon, under this pope's leadership.

      As for the statement itself, take out the stuff about redemption and I'm OK with it. Meeting at the neutral ground of doing good is a fine answer.

    3. Having attended a RC church for a few years I would love for them to loosen up a bit Kevin. Got tired of having my toes stepped on while the faithful took communion. Yet I doubt that even this Pope will ever extend meaningful signs of redemption to include nonRC believers much less nonbelievers.

      That said, I agree with you that his statements were vague and inflammatory. Also agree with your last two sentences.


I love to get comments and usually respond. So come back to see my reply. You can click here to see my comment policy.