Pope cool with atheists

Steve Anderson at The Independent:
Pope Francis has said that atheists should be seen as good people as long as they do good, in a move to urge people of all religions - or no religion at all - to get along.


  1. i’m glad the current pope is willing to allow others their beliefs, but for me, his other recent statement: “To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.” is perhaps more impressive.   There are a helluva lot of souls in heaven that got there by following papal edicts “to kill in the name of god” (e.g. pope Urban II and a little thing called the crusades).  so does this statement get them rerouted to hell after they followed prior papal demands?  or can blasphemy be ‘grandfathered’ away?

    1. Just imagine that – your heavenly gift pass can be revoked.  That’ll stir up trouble and anxiety in the catholic community.

    2. The idea of a Pope, whose job is to live in a city made of freaking gold, taking the name of probably the most radical anticapitalist adherent to extreme voluntary poverty struck me as kind of laughable at first. But this guy seems to be increasingly Francis-like in his leaning toward pacifism and humility (I mean, for a Pope, or course, he’s still saying and doing some very problematic things).

  2. The first two things I read about this pope were
     – some story about him washing the feet of AIDS patients
     – that he opposes measures that could actually reduce the spread of AIDS

    So I was pretty much primed to dislike the hell out of this guy.  But we were never going to get Pope C Everett Koop.  As popes go, Francis seems relatively okay

    1. He also recently washed the feet of women, which is directly prohibited by the church.  But it’s not like they can tell him he’s wrong, can they?

        1. Call me when you start telling people that you’re a flu ‘victim’.  It’s a disease, not a crime.

          1. The term ‘AIDS victim’ has been regarded as offensive for several decades.

    2. To get a Pope that would approve of condoms would take a “higher power,” the Vatican III council.

      Currently, the dogma is so strict, someone who’s married and has AIDS is not allowed to use a condom.

  3. Whew!  Well there’s a weight off my mind.  Now back to stressing about whether the Beef Council is OK with people not eating meat.

    1. Yeah.  I don’t know much, but his big public moves that I’m aware of are ok.

      I do want burning hellfire to course through the rivers of paedophiles in the church, but I’m willing to wait another 10 minutes for that.

      1. my friends (of many faiths) agree that he can be a misogynist and homophobic – just as long as he isnt complacent in the rape of children.

        baby steps.

        1.  Complicit either

          I always figure if someone is a genuine humanist, it’s impossible for them to be misogynistic or homophobic.  They might put on the fancy dance and outfit, but they’re faking it for the doctrine.

  4. What a coincidence!  That is exactly how this atheist feels about the pope.  I will think you are good as long as you do good.  YOUR MOVE, POPE.  I can’t wait to see all the good you will do for women’s rights, gay rights, victims of sexual abuse, etc.

    1. I like to believe the guy is doing what he can; the Catholic Church is not known for reacting quickly (or even glacially, for that matter) to changing norms.

      1.  he is on record for saying that he intends to ‘make the church poor again’ which is the most christian thing i think i have heard a pope say in my lifetime.

        *tentative like*

    2. It’s somehow so satisfying that all you need to do to

      atheists should be seen as good people as long as they do good

      is delete the first letter.

  5.  For a minute I was like “Palpatine said that?” then i remembered there’s a new pope.

    1. Every positive think said about Francis needs a huge qualifier at the end. “He’s a pretty decent guy, for a Pope.” “Wow, he’s really tolerant for a Pope.” “What a humble attitude, for a Pope!”

      1. Yeah, but Roderigo Borgia really lowered the bar for everyone. They need to work hard to get the average back up to merely hypocritical, callous, wilfully ignorant and bigoted.

  6. I can definitely see the condescension in the Pope’s remarks, but remember that the Pope’s primary target is other Catholics, many of whom may have atheist family members their Catholic relatives are terrified for. This both alleviates their anxiety, and makes it less likely they’ll harass those atheist loved ones. With the amount of hate the fundamentalists are throwing around these days, it’s a good time for such a comment. 

    The secondary audience is probably a toss up between Protestants who are getting poked in that ever so sensitive Works vs. Faith spot*, and everyone else who is getting the “hey, we think people are cool!” message. 

    1. Catholics are kind of hard to place – the church is generally accepting of science, with some small but quite nasty exceptions. How much influence that has on the believers is… unclear at best, but compared to a pentecostal revivalist group they’re downright liberal. :)

      1. And in Latin America, overtly leftist Liberation Theologian church leaders were the main advocates for the common people during times when American economic imperialism was destroying lives and countries. Of course, Polish John JPII and German Ratzinger, who had had understandably poor experiences with Communism in Eastern Europe, openly rebuked them (and also backpedaled on a lot of the reforms from Vatican II), turning things in a slightly more conservative direction.

        But yeah, compared to American-style hardline Protestant fundamentalism, Catholicism is fairly progressive, or at least has pockets of progress. But that’s a HELL of a qualifier.

  7. I’m not used to this kinder, gentler (saner?) pope.  My conspiracy-theory clutching mind insists that at some point he’ll tug a little switch, two red devil horns will pop out of the sides of the hat, and he’ll fire up a Caterpillar tractor and start plowing us all directly into the pits of hell.

  8. I have to confess I’m liking this new Pope’s style.  Maybe I’m just a sucker for populist demagogues who seem to be drinking their own koolaid, but I never liked Ralph Nader so I dunno.

  9. This is going to make the Grace Not Works people incandescent, but they’re mostly Protestants anyhow, so no skin off his nose.

    1. He’s also needling the more conservative wing of the Catholic Church, who while they don’t go around asking everyone if they’re “saved” can be hostile to those outside the faith.  Actually it’s kind of a shot at Ratzinger and company who preferred a smaller Church of people who were orthodox.

  10. That’s very nice, but I still demand proof that religious leaders are good people.

  11. I think all the fuss over this statement as some kind of example of the new pope’s tolerance is ridiculous. What did he actually say? That all who “do good” are good people. And who gets to decide what “doing good” is? I’ll give you three guesses.

    If I help abused teens get access to contraception, am I doing good? If I fight for a gay couple’s right to see each other while one is in a catholic hospital, am I doing good? If I write my congressman to say I think all child abusing priests should be prosecuted and that so long as the catholic church fights this it should lose its tax exempt status, am I doing good?

    Sorry, your papal-ness, but I don’t need your acceptance or endorsement of my good works on behalf of others. This is nothing more than feel-good pablum for your followers so they can have one more reason to feel superior to the non-believers.

    1.  maby, just maby, we shouldent be shouting down the first positive piece of news to come out of the Vatican in a generation?

      the church is ooold, perhaps this is the first, hesitant, unsteady step towards being less inexcusably evil?

      1. Agreed.1500-2000 year old institutions that believe that many of the things medieval and classical leaders did and said are divinely infallible don’t change course quickly. I am an atheist, but I still regard this as good news.

  12. Humanity and Catholicism might actually have a chance!  After years of a pope doing nothing but destroying human rights and hiding child molesters, all the while complaining about dwindling membership, this is certainly a breath of fresh air.

    1. Actually by the standards of its own times I think the early church did pretty well. Married priests, women priests, actually obeying the vows of poverty. But hey, that’s cultural revolution – the tradition that got the church more power and wealth and mindshare got passed down, the impulse to humility and unbounded charity weeded out.

  13. Seems the Pope believes in Maria Valtorta’s writings:
    Jesus: « …A reward or punishment according to the deeds accomplished in the
    earthly life. Do not think that Charity is unfair, and that only because many people do not belong to Israel or to Christ, although they are virtuous in the religion which they follow convinced that it is the true one, they are to remain forever without reward. […] You may say: “Then, what justice is there in belonging to the holy religion, if at the end of the world we shall be treated exactly as the Gentiles?” I reply to you: the same justice which there is − and it is true justice − for those who, although they belong to the holy religion, will not be beatified, because they they did not lead a holy life. A virtuous heathen, only because he lived according to choice virtue, convinced that his religion was good, will have Heaven at the end. » …
    − The Poem of The Man†God. Chapter 442: Jesus Speaks of Charity to The Apostles

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