First, atheists don't believe in heaven, so they don't give a damn when the pope says they can still end up there. What a condescending, elitist remark! What he's basically saying is atheists are immature children incapable of knowing what's good for them. He can't even comprehend that atheists don't think about heaven and laugh at the very prospect. It's as if he thinks we are all sitting around struggling with the fact that we don't believe, that we are saddened that we can't go to a place we don't believe exists. If we were concerned about not being able to get into heaven we wouldn't be nonbelievers!
His stance is just as ineffective as the converse: Threatening an atheist with hell is like telling a vegan if he doesn't do what you want you'll force him to eat griffin meat.
Second, atheists most likely don't even want there to be a heaven because if evidence some day proves the god of the bible exists, then they wouldn't want to worship that horrible deity for eternity.
There's another level of arrogance showing its ugly face here as well. To make statements as if this pope actually knows what will happen to anyone after death is to say the least disingenuous and dripping with cockiness of epic proportions. He can't actually know, nor is he having reciprocating confabs with an all-knowing deity. Yet the Catholic Church continues to loosen up its beliefs and change the supposedly unchangeable.
How can it "go with the times" when the bible is supposed to be its truth? Their god is supposed to be omniscient, so they should never change any stance. This is what is simultaneously wrong and sad about the Catholic Church. That they can be so strict on some things, and then make a statement like atheists can get into heaven if they vote with their conscience.
This is a conglomerate that condemns men for liking other men, but shelters priests for molesting boys. It says contracting AIDS in Africa is better than wearing condoms. It has billions of dollars in the bank that it bilked from followers and when it uses any of that money for good, it takes all of the credit. These billions of dollars should not even exist. What does a church of Christ need with material possessions?
But I'm getting too far off topic. I actually applaud Francis for loosening up and being a little more humble than his predecessors. Had this attitude been around a couple of decades ago, I may have been more willing to drink the holy Kool-aid and might still be delusional. But it's too late for me, and I'm willing to bet his efforts will fall on deaf ears. His actions are far too transparent. Catholicism is the fastest depleting religion on the planet and his latest PR moves have been an effort to boost the numbers. It's not working. Nor should it.
Does anyone really think these adjustments are over serious concerns for our souls? Of course not. It's about money. When a pope says an atheist can walk through the pearly gates while still being a nonbeliever, you know times are desperate for the Catholic Church, and it couldn't happen to a nicer church.