Pope Francis Declares Atheists Can Go To Heaven

He is re-writing the script on God.

Pope Francis is once again making headlines for an attitude of acceptance. This time, he's shining his light on atheists.

In an open letter to Eugenio Scalfari, the founder of Italy's La Repubblica newspaper, Pope Francis answered questions from readers that were sent in. One of them was about the viability of an atheist going to heaven.

"You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don't believe and who don't seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart," the Pope wrote. "The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience."

Pope Francis has earned a progressive reputation for comments like these in past,  some of which run against the status quo of the Roman Catholic Church. For example:

- He praised a gay children's book.

- He refused to eat with U.S. lawmakers, instead dining with the poor.

- He has laid down several warnings about climate change. 

- He said priests can forgive women who have abortions.

- He visited a Philadelphia prison and has spoken out about forgiving criminals.

It's safe to say that we have never seen a pope like this before. For now, though, we're just happy he is preaching acceptance and forgiveness.

Cover photo via Matt Rourke-Pool/Getty Images.