Scott Hahn has offered a wonderfully concise response to the "controversy" over Francis' recent comments...
Lots of people are criticizing Pope Francis' message earlier this week, as if he's deviating from the Church's teaching on the need to proclaim the good news... Contrary to what you may read in the media, please notice, nowhere does he even suggest - much less teach - that avowed atheists are saved. Instead, what he actually says is so obviously true and open to a perfectly fair and benign reading:
1. We shouldn't be so critical of outsiders that we don't allow ourselves to see or acknowledge whatever good they do, or truth they affirm (even atheists).
2. Christ didn't die to save only catholics/christians, but everybody (even atheists).
3. Since all are redeemed by Christ - potentially, at least - we should be looking for ways to build bridges with them in order to actualize that redemptive potential, by showing them that whatever truth and goodness they embrace comes from - and leads to - Christ.