First Things quotes a different pope–Benedict XVI:
The question that torments us is . . . why, if there are so many other ways to heaven and to salvation, should it still be demanded of us that we bear, day by day, the whole burden of ecclesiastical dogma and ecclesiastical ethics? . . .
If we are raising the question of the basis and meaning of our life as Christians . . . then this can easily conceal a sidelong glance at what we suppose to be the easier and more comfortable life of other people, who will “also” get to heaven.
We are too much like the workers taken on in the first hour whom the Lord talks about in his parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt 20:1-6). When they realized that the day’s wage of one denarius could be much more easily earned, they could no longer see why they had sweated all day. . . .
But the parable is not there on account of those workers at that time; it is there for our sake. For in our raising questions about the “why” of Christianity, we are doing just what those workers did. We are assuming that spiritual “unemployment”—a life without faith or prayer—is more pleasant than spiritual service. Yet how do we know that?
Get Religion is all boring and actually talking about theology and whatever, man:
OK, what we have here is two crucial doctrinal concepts that have been jammed into a journalistic blender.
First of all, the pope is talking about “redemption” and he notes, of course, that Jesus Christ died and was raised and, as the Orthodox like to say, has thus “trampled down death by death.”
So all of creation has been redeemed. The issue whether everyone in that creation manages, through grace, to accept the reality of this redemption. At that point, the key term is not “redemption,” but “salvation.” And who is saved, through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ? Those who have embraced that redemption.
For another take on this, consider the following — the blunt take offered by the famous/infamous theologian Stephen Colbert at the end of his classic showdown with scholar Philip Zimbardo, author of “The Lucifer Effect”.
more (and I also like the last line of “Jerry’s” comment btw)
and here’s an old thing I wrote about getting to Heaven, and also whether or not you’d slap your own mother if you knew she’d forgive you (your mother may vary).