Shortly after Pope Francis gave an homily in which he said even atheists who do good are redeemed, a statement from a Vatican spokesman clarified the pope's remarks.

Just one day after the pope's now famous words in Rome on May 22, a Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica released a statement quoting a section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that says people who reject the teachings of Jesus Christ cannot attain salvation.

"All salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body," Rosica wrote. "Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her."

However, Rosica wrote that it's not impossible for an atheist to eventually be saved by Christ.

“Rejection of Christianity may not mean the rejection of Christ,” he wrote. "We can never say with ultimate certainty whether a non-Christian who has rejected Christianity...is still following the temporary path mapped out for his own salvation which is leading him to an encounter with God.”

Rosica's statement was written in response to the many calls and messages he received after Francis' controversial homily.

The Catholic Church defines redemption and salvation differently: while everyone is redeemed through the death of Jesus Christ, salvation is offered by God and can be either accepted or rejected individually.

In his homily, the pope said everyone, "even the atheists," have been redeemed "with the Blood of Christ," according to Vatican Radio.

"If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter," Francis said. "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."

The Vatican's statement seemed to attempt to do damage control for Francis' remarks, emphasizing that his job is more to speak well than to provide an indisputable interpretation of the Bible.

"[Pope Francis] is first and foremost a seasoned pastor and preacher who has much experience in reaching people," the statement said. "His words are not spoken in the context of a theological faculty or academy nor in interreligious dialogue or debate."

(h/t Christian Post)

Correction: A previous version of this article asserted that Rosica had said that atheists cannot be saved, and attributed the quotation from the Catechism to Rosica.

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Click through the slideshow to see most and least religious cities in the United States:
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  • Salt Lake City, UT

    73,487 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Birmingham, AL

    Metro area Birmingham-Hoover, AL<br> 70,990 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Oklahoma City, OK

    60,249 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Memphis, TN-MS-AR

    Metro area: Memphis, TN-MS-AR<br> 58,847 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Pittsburgh, PA

    57,695 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Chicago, IL-IN-WI

    Metro area: Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI<br> 57,162 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Providence, RI-MA

    Metro area: Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA<br> 56,840 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Boston, MA-NH

    Metro area: Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH<br> 56,765 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.<br>

  • New York, NY-NJ-PA

    Metro area: New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA<br> 55,595 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Dallas, TX

    Metro area: Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX<br> 55,536 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Houston, TX

    Metro area: Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX<br> 55,144 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Buffalo, NY

    Meto area: Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY<br> 54,706 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD

    Metro area: Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD<br> 54,668 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Independence_Hall.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • San Antonio, TX

    Metro area: San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX<br> 54,093 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • New Orleans, LA

    Metro area: New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA<br> 53,479 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Minneapolis, MN-WI

    Metro area: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI<br> 52,061 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Milwaukee, WI

    Metro area: Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Alis, WI<br> 51,823 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Charlotte, NC-SC

    Metro area: Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC<br> 51,764 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Los Angeles, CA

    Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA<br> 51,382 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Cleveland, OH

    Metro area: Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH<br> 51,185 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Nashville, TN

    Metro area: Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN<br> 50,694 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Louisville, KY-IN

    Metro area: Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN<br> 50,445 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Richmond, VA

    50,113 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Jacksonville, Florida

    50,093 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Atlanta, GA

    Metro area: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA<br> 49,721 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Kansas City, MO-KS

    49,702 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • St. Louis, MO-IL

    48,889 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Hartford, CT

    Metro area: Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT<br> 47,226 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

    Metro area: Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN<br> 44,672 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Detroit, MI

    Metro area: Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI<br> 44,583 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Washington, DC-VA-MD-WV

    Metro area: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV<br> 44,576 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Raleigh, NC

    Metro area: Raleigh-Cary, NC<br> 44,469 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • San Jose, CA

    Metro area: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA<br> 44,189 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Rochester, NY

    44,066 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Austin, TX

    Metro area: Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX<br> 43,921 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • San Diego, CA

    Metro area: San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA<br> 43,917 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Riverside, CA

    Metro area: Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA<br> 42,293 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Indianapolis, IN

    Metro area: Indianapolis-Carmel, IN<br> 42,213 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Baltimore, MD

    Metro area: Baltimore-Towson, MD<br> 42,077 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Virginia Beach, VA-NC

    Metro area: Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC<br> 40,417 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Orlando, FL

    Metro area: Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL<br> 40,631 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Miami, FL

    Metro area: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL<br> 38,058 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • San Francisco, CA

    Metro area: San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA<br> 37,796 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Columbus, OH

    37,702 religious adherents per 100,000 persons.

  • Denver, CO

    Metro area: Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO<br> 36,968 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Phoenix, AZ

    Metro area: Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ<br> 37,518 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Sacramento, CA

    Metro area: Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Rosenville, CA<br> 36,512 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Las Vegas, NV

    Metro area: Las Vegas-Paradise, NV<br> 35,761 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Seattle, WA

    Metro area: Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA<br> 35,643 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Tampa, FL

    Metro area: Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL<br> 34,761 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>

  • Portland, OR-WA

    Metro area: Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA<br> 31,591 religious adherents per 100,000 persons. <br>