An article by Eugenio Scalfari, in La Repubblica (March 15, 2015), raises questions about whether Pope Francis believes in the annihilation of non-believing souls and holds a minimalist view of the requirements for salvation. The question arises when he is talking to Europe's nonbelievers. The problem, as always in this sort of account, is that it's related from memory. So if this is a misrepresentation of his views, has the Holy Father corrected the public record? Please tell me he has. Otherwise, here is what it appears he's saying:
[...W]hat about those with no faith? The answer is that if one has loved others at least as much as himself, (possibly a little more than self) the Father will welcome him. Faith is of help but that is not the element of the one who judges -- it’s life itself. Sin and repentance are part of life [and include]: remorse, a sense of guilt, a desire for redemption and the abandonment of egoism.
What happens to that lifeless soul? Will it be punished? How?
Francis’ answer is very clear: there is no punishment, but the annihilation of that soul. All the others will participate in the bliss of living in the presence of the Father. The annihilated souls will not be part of that banquet; with the death of the body their journey is ended and this is the basis for the missionary work in the Church: to save the lost souls. And this is also the reason why Francis is a Jesuit to the core.
The Company founded by Loyola taught and still teaches its followers that the premise of mission is being in tune with others, i.e. being on the same wavelength, without which dialogue would be impossible. For that reason the missionary Church has to update itself according to the passage of the times and the diversities of places.
When dialogue finally becomes possible among different peoples, of diverse cultures, civics and religions, it is then that the missionary Church may stimulate the call for the good and limit the love of self.
Francis’ teaching makes a lot of sense even for those who don’t believe because it touches a deeply human factor, which is independent of belief in God and Christ His Son. It is a teaching which highlights the difference between man and the animal from which he descends, with a mind capable of reflection and self-judgment, by holding the bridle of his own narcissism and his head hled high, gazing at the stars.