Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile/RNS

Pope Francis has called on Catholics to adopt a “healthy realism” in their approach to their faith, and he decried rigid idealists as heretics.

Speaking during morning Mass on June 9, Francis told congregants at the chapel in the Vatican guesthouse to try their best to seek reconciliation with others rather than pushing strict rules and a “take-it-or-leave-it” style of evangelism.

the Web Editors 02-18-2016

A reporter asked Pope Francis, "Can a good catholic vote for this man [Trump]?" And Francis answered honestly.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," said Francis.

Although Francis did not directly refer to Trump, his implication is fairly clear, and strong.

RNS photo courtesy Graphic News.

RNS photo courtesy Graphic News.

Is Pope Francis endorsing heresy?

It might look that way from the eye-catching headlines this week that made it appear everyone was bound for heaven — “even atheists!” — thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross.

The passage that prompted the reports came from Francis’ brief homily at the informal morning Mass that he celebrates in the chapel at the Vatican guesthouse.

Speaking on Wednesday, Francis said that as human beings created in the image of God, everyone has a “duty to do good.”

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists,” he said, answering his own query. “Everyone! And this blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the blood of Christ has redeemed us all!”

Cue the jaw dropping and head scratching. Atheists were pleasantly surprised, conservative Catholics were dazed and confused, and the pope’s comments raced around the Internet; for a while they were the second-most shared piece on Reddit.

So was Francis preaching a form of “universalism?" That is the unorthodox teaching that says, essentially, that all faiths are equal and all are going to heaven, especially if you are nice to people here on earth. It’s also a heresy that Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, spent a career quashing every time he thought he thought he spied a hint of it in some theologian’s writings.

Elissa Elliott 06-08-2011
Not too long ago, a family member told me in hushed sad tones that he was praying for me. I wasn't ill. I wasn't going through a tough time. No.
Timothy King 03-02-2011
Heresy is a strong accusation.
Diana Butler Bass 05-18-2010
In March, I signed The Civility Covenant issued by the folks at Sojourners.
Liza Field 03-31-2010
After a hard winter in the Eastern United States, spring offers a resurrection. Particularly here in the Appalachian Bible Belt, we're looking toward Easter.
Julie Clawson 03-02-2010

So I finally got around to reading Dan Brown's latest book,

Sondra Haaga 01-27-2010

America, dominating the global economy, imports more goods than it exports. What is less tangible, but possibly more important, is how America exports its values to a rapidly interconnecting global society.

Julie Clawson 12-15-2009

At church on a recent Sunday we were encouraged to find ways to see the world differently this week. Change our routine and change our perspective to help us get out of the rut of going through life without actually seeing the world. To that end we were asked to draw a slip of paper out of a basket on which was written some sort of paradigm destabilizer.

Cesar Baldelomar 07-22-2009

Throughout history, individuals and institutions have cited the Bible to support injustices, such as "holy war" against infidels, the subjection of women, racism and slavery, and the abuse of homos

Julie Clawson 03-19-2009
So there was a fascinating editorial in The Washington Post yesterday by