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Pope Francis' 5 Most-Controversial Comments

Pope Francis' 5 Most-Controversial Comments

Atheist Salvation

Atheist Bus Campaign creator Ariane Sherine poses for photographers in front of a bus bearing an atheist advertisement, at the launch of the campaign, in London January 6, 2009. | (Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Winning/Files)

In September 2014, Pope Francis appeared to claim that atheists could go to Heaven, even if they never believed in Jesus, so long as they do good.

These comments were reportedly from an open letter response to atheist Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari of the left-leaning news publication La Repubblica.

"I start by saying — and this is the fundamental thing — that God's mercy has no limits if you go to Him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience," wrote the pontiff.

However, a couple months later the Holy See removed Francis' comments to Scalfari, arguing that there were certain mistakes in how the text was written up.

"The information in the interview is reliable on a general level but not on the level of each individual point analyzed: this is why it was decided the text should not be available for consultation on the Holy See website," noted a Vatican spokesman.

"Its removal is a final update on the nature of this text. Some mistakes were made regarding its value, which was questioned."

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