(Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Sunday that Roman Catholic leaders must have the courage to stand up to attacks by "intolerant agnosticism" prevalent in many countries.
The pope and the Church have come under increased attack because of their opposition to homosexual marriage and women priests. The pope has repeatedly denounced what he says are attempts to push religion out of public debate.
The 85-year-old pontiff celebrated Mass on the day Christians in the West mark the Epiphany, and ordained four new archbishops including his personal secretary.
In a homily to about 10,000 people in St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, he firmly rejected suggestions the Church should change to suit public opinion.
"Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking," he said. "The approval of the prevailing wisdom, however, is not the criterion to which we submit."
In the United States, a group last month started a petition on the White House website asking the administration of President Barack Obama to list the Catholic Church as a "hate group" because of its opposition to gay marriage.
"Today's regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs," the pope said.
"Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a bishop today. He must be courageous," he said.
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They do not necessarily guarantee their own extinction. Especially the more Fundamentalist religious sects.
There is a reason for that.
How many atheists here are actually willing to go to war and possibly suffer death to preserve the pernicious creep of religion in politics? Are you willing to die for your belief (or in this case, no belief)?
They are. Martyrdom is a reward, not an ending. They are willing to die to impose their beliefs on us, the minority, those that are Christian and Muslim.
It is why there is a gradual takeover of the US military by evangelicals. It is why radicals in the name of Islam sponsor terror acts around the globe.
If you are not willing to die for the cause of secularism, then you -will- lose, because they are willing to die for their cause, and there are more of them than us. The tree of Liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants; it is its natural manure.
There are few who espouse the causes of atheism or secularism that will even admit it in the open public forum, much less stand and die for those principles. That is why I keep mentioning that atheists (as they stand today) do not deserve their rights.
They are not willing to defend their rights. You do not gain or keep rights by letting others do the heavy lifting.
Thus the cause of secularism, unless things change, is already lost. This nation's unique experiment in secular government is in mortal peril.
There is a reason ever-more-religiously-radical politicians get elected and no atheists. No atheist will even stand for office (except for me, and I was appointed, not elected, in a town so far removed from civilisation that we wouldn't know if the sun went nova for three weeks, but we have lots of Minuteman III missiles around here, run by the ever-more evangelical military).
Remember the phrase from hippie days gone by? Better dead than red? Fortunately there were enough folk like me that didn't buy the nonsense there is no cause worth dying for, that were willing to serve and even die if that's what it took to preserve the idea of western democracy over communism.
There are few or none that will even stand up and say they are an atheist (in public not here). They will not defend it, and they will become irrelevant.
This pope, and the catholic church's representatives continue to push their orwellian newspeak lies. To them, freedom is tyrrany and tyranny is freedom.
I really think this pope will only be happy if there was a return to when there was the catholic demagogue's true freedom of religion. No government to stand in the way of catholic hegemony, no resistance to the catholic church's burning of "witches" and heretics, torture of people who are threats to the church's power, no person who can stand up to bishops and popes forcing peasant to walk across europe and the middle east in attempts to return the "holy land" - that accursed place - into the hands of the "mother"church.
They want us to be scared of their god, scared of excommunication, scared of hell, and, of course, scared of them. That way, they stay in power and everyone else remains under their individual and collective thumbs, which they LIKE. Not gonna happen, of course, not here, anyway.
But so long as there are people who fear death and must imagine their own unknown continuation into a life after death, the RC guys or someone like them will prosper onward.