i'm sure i'll take some heat from this, but i'm going to make my argument anyway.  there's a lot to like about the new Pontiff.  if you've been paying attention you've probably heard most of his more noteworthy acts which have led him to Time's "person of the year" award.  i too think those are wonderful stories, and the man sure does walk the walk.  but there's another side to this that i think is relevant to the atheist community.  he's a walking and talking reminder to most Christians (especially those on the right) that they're doing Christianity wrong.  

many of us delight in pointing out how un-Christian many Christians act.  we love Ghandi's quote - "...your Christians are so unlike your Christ."  we post pictures of the "Republican Jesus" and delight in Bible thumping congressmen's hypocrisy.  but coming from us it has little effect other than confirming our own belief structure.  

but here comes the religious leader of the world pointing out just how far apart modern Christianity (especially Evangelicalism) is from Jesus' message.  and it's making them uncomfortable.  perhaps you've heard Rush Limbaugh calling Francis a marxist, or Sarah Palin saying that he says things "that kinda sound liberal", or Fox News editorial director penning an article entitled "Pope Francis is the Catholic Church's Obama - God Help Us".  

unlike our efforts to point to the insane amount of hypocrisy in modern Christianity, the Pope's efforts hold real sway.  he's got the world's largest bully pulpit.  and he's using it often and loudly.  

sure, he still supports church doctrine of all the silly stuff, but he doesn't seem to take that part too seriously.  i don't think it's a stretch to call him an ally in the fight against religious fundamentalism.  now if you're an anti-theist or yearn for the end to all religion then the Pope probably isn't your guy.  if anything, his efforts might actually create more Christians and bring lost Catholics back into the flock.  but this shouldn't really concern us.  me, i'm a realist who realizes that religion is here to stay, at least during my lifetime.  and since religion must exist, shouldn't we be pleased that Pope Francis is trying to make it a Church that focuses on works not ideology, on Jesus' message not dogma?  

Francis even makes my arguments with family better.  my Mom and her husband are both Catholics, so whenever they make some awful statement about the poor or minorities, i can throw "is that what the Pope would say?".  

on a final note, i'm very happy i have this platform to discuss this issue without the risk of being called a phony atheist or whatever.  i love Atheist/Nexus!

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I can get behind that - just because he's a theist, no need to do the us/them thing to him and be negative about him.  Maybe he'll reduce the pain in the world. 

I won't argue that Francis is better than what we've seen from Vatican City in a long time.  Where my problem is in the issues of doctrine, where he isn't likely to budge, but even more with the whole child abuse business.  If he were to demand transparency on that one issue, I think he'd get more supporters than you could shake a stick at.  To date, he hasn't, and I'm still waiting.

What we have here is an incremental improvement.  There is a LOT further to go.

With respect Matthew I must ask if you are feeling all right ? Have you come under the undue influence of your catholic relatives ?

To say you 'love' Pope Francis sounds ridiculous, particularly as you have never met the guy. It's like people who say they love a God and that's no love at all.

It's irrefutable that Pope Francis is a wanker. He has failed to develop personally because he is devoid of natural intimacy with others and has opted for a superficial, supernatural-like role in life as loathsome, despicible catholic clergy. He is really a useless person but as pope, has inherited a malevolent criminal organisation with huge power, wealth and resources and a huge following of gullible, stupid people. He now owns the biggest church in the world.

So he is in a position to get things done but is full of shit and the poor will remain in a terrible cycle of poverty and become more numerous. Sure, lots of words and gestures, and the good folk will be impressed but that won't change anything.

As Mother Theresa has said, the suffering of the poor brings them close to the Lord !

no offense taken.  we obviously disagree, but i expected some blow back.  listen, when i say "i love him" i don't mean it literally.  i have tremendous regard for him - better?  i think you are naturally skeptical of him based on past experiences, which is understandable.  

when he kicked that super rich arch-bishop out and turned his palace into a soup kitchen you can't tell me you weren't impressed.  or didn't you see that one?

when he had a 2 hour interview with an atheist journalist in Italy you don't think that matters?  when he said "who am i to judge" regarding gay relations you can't tell me you weren't thinking "you're the Pope, i thought judging was your job!".  when he called fundamentalism a form of mental illness you had to be nodding along with him.  

maybe you knew about all these things and dismiss it as empty rhetoric.  which is fine.  i see real change and a genuine man who wants to reform his institution.  and i don't see how that's a bad thing.  

Rhetoric is fine if it's backed up with actions.  I knew about the self-indulgent bishop's getting his ass kicked, but the business about the soup kitchen didn't get reported around here.

The fact is that I'm still waiting for ACTION.  Pretty words are fine, but even their own book says that faith without deeds is nothing.  When the words become deeds, I'll be impressed.  Until then, I'm still waiting.


believe me, i understand your skepticism (i knew you'd be all over me on this one).  i may be wrong on this, as you're right that actions are what matters.  time will tell but i'm willing to bet on this horse.  isn't it fun watching the right wingers square this peg?  i swear i saw steam coming out of Palin's ears when asked about him.  

I'm with you on this Matthew.  Any theists warmth is an improvement on the cold judgements the past.

With respect Matthew I must ask if you are feeling all right ?

Very funny, Matthew has got an atheist head cold ...

To say you 'love' Pope Francis sounds ridiculous, particularly as you have never met the guy.

One can feel love from slight knowledge of a person. Also love for an ideal that they represent. You're right that it's not personal love, and if you actually got to know him, the reality might be much less lovely.

atheist head cold!  hilarious!  i can assure everyone that i'm every bit the atheist that i've been since i was 14.  but if i see a person with a worthwhile message i don't care if he/she is atheist or religious.  good is good.  

Well Matthew I agree with you. Not only do I agree that Pope Francis seems like a decent person; I would say religion is so irrelevant to my life that the fact someone believes in an abstract delusion but is reasonable about tangible and immediate concerns, like treating each other with respect, means we probably have a lot in common. I often agree with, and respect religious people.

I have been reading your comments and enjoy the degree of compassion and fairness you practice. I suspect Pope Francis would show an Atheist respect. He seems to be a person capable of recognizing the human substance in non believers. I am glad to see there are Atheists, like you Matthew, who are also capable of recognizing the human substance in believers. You have my support. 

thanks Peter.  i appreciate the support.  honestly, i appreciate the disagreements too.  that's what drives conversations.

Maybe the Pope is an atheist infiltrator :)




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