Pope Francis said in a recent homily:
"The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can... "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. Everyone!".. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Also from the HuffPo article:
Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis said on Wednesday in his latest urging that people of all religions - or no religion - work together.
Honestly, this is a bit mind blowing for me. The Catholic church's tendency to be exclusionary and bigoted makes me wonder if pot recently became legal in Rome. One of the biggest challenges an atheist faces is the assumption by believers that we can't be "good" people. The idea that morality and ethics is directly tied to a belief in a higher power is so prevalent that atheists deal with a healthy amount of discrimination. The last time the Pew folks ran a poll asking people whether they'd be willing to vote for blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, etc., atheist came in dead last. Because you know, if you don't believe in god, you can't be trusted.
So I think this is my new defense against this kind of bigotry. "Oh, I need god? Are you SURE I can't be an ok person without him? Guess what, shithead - the fucking president of Cathol says otherwise."