The net is going crazy with the Pope's comments on atheists and salvation.
More clarification seems necessary. First of all, if an atheist is presented with the Truth of God's existence and openly rejects this Truth for life, there can be no salvation, as that person has made a choice. Can he have a death-bed conversion? Of course. But, one cannot count on dying in bed.
Second, the merits of grace gained in and through Christ are in the Catholic Church. This is our teaching. So, if someone purposefully rejects the Church, when they have been given insight into that truth in some way, (people reject truth for many reasons), they could be sinning against the Holy Spirit, which is the gravest of all sins. One who knows the Truth and rejects it sins against the Spirit.
Third, to separate Christ and the Church is heresy. Protestants do this, sadly, The CCC is clear about this. We are one in Christ in the Church. All salvation comes through the Church and through Christ, which is the mystery of His setting up the Church on earth.
II. THE CHURCH - BODY OF CHRIST
787 From the beginning, Jesus associated his disciples with his own life, revealed the mystery of the Kingdom to them, and gave them a share in his mission, joy, and sufferings.215 Jesus spoke of a still more intimate communion between him and those who would follow him: "Abide in me, and I in you. . . . I am the vine, you are the branches."216 And he proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."217
788 When his visible presence was taken from them, Jesus did not leave his disciples orphans. He promised to remain with them until the end of time; he sent them his Spirit.218 As a result communion with Jesus has become, in a way, more intense: "By communicating his Spirit, Christ mystically constitutes as his body those brothers of his who are called together from every nation."219
789 The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered around him; she is united in him, in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ.
790 Believers who respond to God's word and become members of Christ's Body, become intimately united with him: "In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification."220 This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ's death and Resurrection, and the Eucharist, by which "really sharing in the body of the Lord, . . . we are taken up into communion with him and with one another."221
Father Z has suggested that there may be bad translations regarding the Pope's talk. I hope so, as the entire thing has opened a can of worms online.
UPDATE: No Anonymous comments will be accepted, remember, please.