Well, this is interesting. It would be wrong of me to claim this is the most encouraging thing I've heard the new Pope say since his arrival; that towould be him dissing rapacious capitalism. Nor will either of these rather surprisingly sensible positions be enough if he continues the Vatican's appalling policies on contraception, though apparently there's some hope that he won't.
Nevertheless, to me personally, this is kind of a big deal. It's always been my feeling that atheists and Christians should be able to work together on any number of causes, focussing on what needs to be done rather than why we think we should do it. This is harder than it should be in practice. Partially this is due to anti-religious sentiment amongst some atheists, but also partly responsible is the view held by some Christians that the real-world effects of such alliances are less important than the knowledge those they're working alongside have no interest in their theology. The memory of attending a Christian talk three years ago in which the audience was told atheists are more deserving of heavenly punishment than Hitler springs immediately to mind.
So here's hoping that Pope Francis' words on the subject are a first step in mutual co-operation. It's not like we couldn't get anything done with that.