Pope Francis made a surprising statement during his Thursday homily, claiming that people who do not lead clean and honest lives should not refer to themselves as ‘believers’, adding,
“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!”
The Pope, speaking from Casa Santa Marta, went on to give specific examples of hypocritical sin, namely business owners who do not pay a fair wage and take fancy vacations. He also called out those running dirty enterprises and money-laundering operations. Later on in the sermon, the Pope included teachers who agitate rather than instruct, and those who disrupt the moral values of others.
“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.”
The gist of the message was anyone who engages in doing wrong, or encourages others to do so, is responsible for any evil that occurs. The Pope’s comment about fake Christians and atheists was not satirical. It was an effort to protect the flock.
A few hours after the sermon, the Vatican issued a statement that clarified Pope Francis simply wants all people to work together for the greater good. The statement also emphasized that God’s love is available to everyone, regardless of belief or non-belief.