Pope Francis preached a homily in which he pretty much said that atheists too can do good and therefore can go to heaven. (Notice the assumption that salvation is by good works and not by faith, which is being presented as not really necessary.) The pope’s words are after the jump, along with some other indications of a growing universalism in Roman Catholicism.
From Pope Francis:
The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. “But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.” Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. . . .
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 this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. . . . “But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!” But do good: we will meet one another there.
At that link, Anna Williams gives a more extensive quotation from the previous pontiff, Benedict XVI, along those same lines. He tries to answer the question, if there are so many ways to be saved, why bother with faith, Christianity, and the church? And, in my opinion, he doesn’t really give a good answer.