Zmirak: What would you say to a weeping child who asks 'Will my dead atheist father go to heaven?'

Zmirak: What would you say to a weeping child who asks ‘Will my dead atheist father go to heaven?’

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What do you say to a grieving boy, who asks you if his father, a recently dead atheist, is in heaven? A little boy asked Pope Francis that question. It’s a tough one — especially coming from that little boy. But, assuming the report is accurate, I don’t think the pope answered it quite correctly.

VIDEO: [CNS] Full clip of little boy asking Pope Francis if his atheist father, who had recently passed away, will now be in heaven?

Both secular and liberal Catholic media are making much of the conversation depicted by Rome Reports. No doubt they see this private talk, which should have been left private, as a tool for advancing the “revolution of mercy.” That’s their nickname for Catholic faith that nudges and winks on sexual ethics and theology. Then thunders dogmatic answers on economics, immigration, and climate science.

A Young Boy Asks About His Dad

During “the pope’s encounter with children from the parish of St. Paul of the Cross,” the following exchange ensued:

“My father has been gone for a short time. He was an atheist, but he baptized his four children. He was a good man. Is Dad in Heaven?”

Seeing the young boy was unable to ask his question, the pope told him to whisper it in his ear. After a few moments of speaking with the child, Pope Francis asked him if he could reveal his question and he said yes.

“Come, come, come.”

“I can’t do it.”

“Come to me, Emanuele. Come and tell me in my ear. Tell me in my ear.”

“If only we could cry like Emanuele when we have pain in our hearts. He cries for his father who died, and had the courage to do so before us because there is love in his heart for his dad.

“My father died a short time ago. He was an atheist, but he baptized his four children. He was a good man. Is dad in Heaven?”

It’s nice that a son says that about his father, that he “was good.” If that man was able to raise his children like that, then he was a good man. God is proud of your father.” Do you think that God would be able to leave a man like him far from Him? Do you think that? Louder, with courage.”


Pope Francis:

Does God abandon His children?


Pope Francis:

Does God abandon His children when they are good?


Pope Francis:

Here, Emanuele, this is the answer. God surely was proud of your father, because it is easier when one is a believer to baptize his children, than to baptize them when you are an unbeliever. Surely God like this so much. Talk to your dad, pray for your dad. Thanks Emanuele for your courage.

Tear-Jerking in Service of Heresy

It’s unclear from the Rome Reports story whether all of what’s above is meant to be what Pope Francis said. Some may be editorializing on the website’s part. I really can’t tell. But it’s all in the same spirit.

What should we make of this? First, we should push back hard against attempts by secular media or secularizing Christians to present this as a doctrine. “Pope says atheists can be saved if they are ‘good.’” That’s heresy. I wouldn’t even call it Pelagianism, because Pelagius was a Christian. He simply thought that you could be a worthy Christian (i.e., avoid sin, serve the poor, and love both God and your neighbor) by your own human efforts. You didn’t need God’s constant help via grace.

Asserting that good behavior saves atheists is a new teaching entirely. In fact, I’d say it’s part of the broader liberal instinct in Christian circles. I call it Pelagianism with very low standards. Or Mini-Pelagianism. (Think of “Mini-Me” from the Austin Powers movies … a very tiny heretic.)

This article continues at [The Stream] Do ‘Good’ Atheists Go to Heaven?


  1. “Is my dad in heaven?” It is not for us to know such mysteries. Our way is not God’s way. Not everything is revealed to us in this life. In truth, no one really knows what exactly was in Dad’s heart even in this life. But what to do is to pray for that event, and a big chunk of that prayer is to return God’s love through obedience to Him. There is no mystery there. God bless you and every one of your family, Vince.

  2. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement. (Heb. 9:27) For by grace are you saved by faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph. 2:8, 9) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Rom. 10:9) Not every one that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 7:21) So reads the Scriptures in that there will be a judgement after death. Those who have not believed and confessed will not be saved and will not enter heaven. It seems pretty clear from what we read in the Bible. Can we know what a person believes in their last moments of life? The answer to that is, “No”. I am glad I am not the Judge.

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