Pope Francis says that atheists should be embraced as good people if they do good, and that all people, whether religious or not, should be able to work together.
The papal leader made the comments during the homily of his daily morning Mass Wednesday, during which he spoke without prepared remarks, according to The Guardian newspaper in London
The comments came in the context of a story he told about a Catholic who asked if Jesus had redeemed atheists.
"Even them, everyone," the Pope explained on Vatican Radio. "We all have the duty to do good. ... Just do good, and we'll find a meeting point."
Pope Francis' remarks run contrary to those of Pope Benedict, who was often criticized by non-Catholics for giving the impression that he saw them as second-class believers, the Guardian noted.
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