Well, it turns out the rumours were false. His Holiness seems not to hold an MSc in Chemistry.
There's nothing wrong with that, of course.
For what little it is worth, there is nothing wrong with the hope that sinners eventually return to communion. In fact, it would be wrong to hope otherwise. The only qualification on that principle is: said sinners must repent before they can return. And in those very strange but very real cases where public communion would be a public skandal, the repentence itself naturally ought to be made (reasonably) public.
That, surely, isn't an alien principle. And, very likely, many will find it a long path indeed. Long and straight. And narrow.
When I believed the Chemistry rumour, I had hope for the Pontiff that he might still be susceptible to the power of precision. Like titration curves and Ecumenical councils. Now that I understand he isn't an accredited chemist, I may be less frustrated by imprecision in his person (if not in his office)... and we'll save ourselves some ado.
Obviously, I don't know what was in His Holiness' head when he allowed those words reported as his; he may have something very different in mind indeed. But the "headline quote", as it were, admits an orthodox interpretation, and we can (and should!) pray that His Holiness come around to believing it himself.