This is really nothing new, as we already know that Vatican II sees non-Catholic religions as having value in the order of salvation, indeed as means of salvation, which is an explicit heresy.
What is interesting about Bergoglio’s statement, however, is that he openly approves of freedom of conscience, that is, the right to choose whatever religion you want and to practice it.
In order to respect diversity, dialogue must seek to promote every person’s right to life, to physical integrity, and to fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of conscience, of thought, of expression and of religion. This includes the freedom to live according to one’s beliefs in both the private and public spheres. In this way, Christians and Muslims – as brothers and sisters – can work together for the common good.
What Bergoglio states here was solemnly condemned by Pope Pius IX in Quanta Cura. What is significant, however, is that he repeats not only Vatican II’s call for the freedom to practice one’s religion, but also freedom of conscience.
Conscience is none other than man’s intellect in the act of determining the morality of an act to be done here and now. Conscience is not a faculty which discovers the truth, but instead is merely the application of the law to a determined act. Consequently the conscience is not free to choose what it pleases, but is necessarily bound to the law which it must apply to the acts we perform.
Freedom of conscience is therefore an impious doctrine, since it releases the intellect from its duty to know the law of God and to apply it. Man has no right to freedom of conscience. Why? Because
God has revealed a religion and a law, and all consciences must accept and obey this religion and this law.
The Catholic Church does not exclude, provided there be serious reasons which justify it, a toleration of false religions, but it can in no way condone the tenet that one has a right to a false religion. For all right is based in God and emanates from God. Right is a moral faculty — ability — to posit an act which is morally correct, that is, which is in conformity with God’s law. The very thought that God would posit a right in someone to defy Him by embracing a false religion is blasphemy.