If an atheist consistently does the WILL OF THE FATHER then he too can be saved.
The thing about works is this: Works do not save, but they are proof of salvation of a BELIEVER. If the person is not a believer, the works are in vain, at least regarding salvation. And the reason is pretty simple: Even the best man on the planet falls short of God’s glory. Works do not save.
I like this comparison using exercise to represent good works: Imagine two guys that are going to train to jump the grand canyon. One guy works and works and works and builds powerful leg muscles. The other guy eats at mcdonalds and sits in front of the TV all day. Which one is going to win?
Works don’t get you eternal life. Acceptance of the blood of Christ for attonement of your sins gets you there.
Honestly, the Pope should stop speaking off the cuff and write, edit and re-edit his homilies. They are all over the internet/the world these days...and they will be misconstrued.
VERY WELL SAID.