Catholicism, anyway, assuming this MSN News report in the week of Christmas can be believed:
The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics made his comments in the homily of his morning Mass in his residence, a daily event where he speaks without prepared comments.
He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus.
“Even them, everyone,” the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. “We all have the duty to do good,” he said.
It may seem like a throw-away comment. But his remarks are a startling admission on two counts:
1) You don’t have to believe in God to get your reward — if you even believe in that sort of thing. Be a good person and you’ll be rewarded (though not with heaven, I hope. Seems like an awfully boring place).
Of course, it’s a condescending kind of remark (ie. Even if you don’t think you’re in our Christian club, you are — and you will be redeemed by the Son of God whether you like it or not. You’re welcome to your non-believing delusion, do-gooder atheist person).
2) You don’t have to have faith to do good. Anyone who’s given this a moment’s thought should already know this, but a surprising number of human beings don’t get it. Belief in God doesn’t equal being a good person. Being a good person requires good acts, not prayer. You can help an old lady cross the street, be kind to animals and volunteer at your local hospital without ever giving God or religion a thought. Moral behaviour is a separate thing from religious behaviour.
Well, that’s pretty much the whole ball game. In one fell swoop, the Pope has removed any incentive for anyone Catholic or considering Catholicism to ever spend another second on religion.