Catholics, Protestants often say, believe in salvation by good works. This engenders the reply from thoughtful Catholics, no we don’t! You have to have grace. In fact, we even believe in justification by faith, just like you Lutherans do, as proven by the accord we signed with liberal Lutherans. Since there is now no real disagreement, there is no need for the Reformation divisions. You can come back to Rome and enjoy being under Pope Francis.
But Pope Francis keeps preaching that salvation is, in fact, by good works. He is reported to have said recently that it’s better to be an atheist than a bad Christian. Now this is not exactly what he said, according to ChurchPop; in context he was referring to Christians living a “double life” of sin and piety, which creates a “scandal” that makes outsiders think it would be better to be an atheist. But read his sermon yourself to get a sense of where he stands on the importance of good works for salvation. Note how he warns against “excessive confidence” in Christ’s forgiveness.
Earlier the Pope has said that on the last day the only issue will be “what we did.” Lots of Christians won’t make it. But atheists will, if they do good. Here is what the Pope said of atheists: “‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
So those who do not believe but do good works will meet with the Christians who do good works in Heaven. While Christians who believe but are sinful will not.