“Just do good and we’ll find a meeting point,” The Pope

I don't think just being good gets you in heaven. Is the Pope singling out atheists to rethink how to win them over? Is he waiting for the atheists to come to him? I think he should have said 'repent and attend mass'. I could be wrong. I was hoping he would quote scripture. Did he gave up on the atheists? Did he water down Catholics?

What was TIME's Person of the Year 2013 thinking?

  • I'm not sure anyone but the Pope himself can tell us what the Pope was thinking.
    – Narnian
    Dec 18, 2013 at 21:47
  • @Narnian I think the question is asking for Pope Francis' motivation when he told atheists to "just be good".
    – Double U
    Dec 18, 2013 at 23:25
  • But the perception of bad and good is way different for an Atheist or for that matter for a secular world as compared to the morals in Bible. Today from a secular or from an atheist point of view, we realise that the demarcation between good and bad has been so much blurred out, it is become difficult to categorize that so and so is bad and so and so is good. So definitely Pope meant "do good" from Bible point of view. Dec 19, 2013 at 7:52

1 Answer 1


The answer to this question has already been answered by an online Catholic news article, discussing this subject with the exact phrase, "just be good", in it. Upon close examination of the news article, the newswriter/blogger/journalist suggests:

The Holy Father is full of surprises, born of true and faithful humility. On Wednesday he declared that all people, not just Catholics, are redeemed through Jesus, even atheists.

However, he did emphasize there was a catch. Those people must still do good. In fact, it is in doing good that they are led to the One who is the Source of all that is good. In essence he simply restated the hope of the Church that all come to know God, through His Son Jesus Christ.

Additionally, it is said in the article that fact that atheists are led to Jesus Christ - the source of all good - is recited during Good Friday in the form of a prayer. So, Pope Francis may not really be adding anything new.

The disciples, Pope Francis explained, "were a little intolerant," closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that "those who do not have the truth, cannot do good." "This was wrong... Jesus broadens the horizon." Pope Francis said, "The root of this possibility of doing good - that we all have - is in creation."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that "Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the virtue of religion but the imputability of the offense can be significantly diminished in virtue of the intentions and the circumstances" (CCC#2125).

So, although the atheist by that definition has sinned against God by denying or rejecting God, he or she may still perform good deeds in the world, and those good deeds will eventually lead him to Jesus Christ, time not specified. I think it's trying to say that good works and good faith come hand in hand. So, if an atheist expresses good works but claims not to have faith in Jesus Christ or God, then somehow the good works will lead him to faith. Therefore, to answer your question, Pope Francis presumably told atheists to "just be good" as a way to evangelize them and call them to Christ.

  • Does this mean the Roman Catholic church actually holds to some sort of universalism? And I find it hard to reconcile the idea that the good works of non-believers will lead them to Jesus with Romans 3.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 19, 2013 at 1:51
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    How very interesting. Sounds like this needs revisited. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/22919/… Dec 19, 2013 at 2:18
  • @curiousdannii Hmmm... I think Romans 3 actually supports what Pope Francis is saying, not contradicting him.
    – Double U
    Dec 19, 2013 at 2:22

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