The new pope says we atheists can also go to heaven as long we do good works. "Do good" he says and "we all will have a meeting point". If the rest of the Catholic Church follows up on this statement with actions that demonstrate sincerity, we may be in for a new era in relations between the Church and the community of freethinkers. This statement is a major departure from traditional teaching. All previous pontiffs have said there is no way to heaven except through the universal Holy Roman Church. The various atheist organizations may actually be able to have polite and civil discussions if the new pope is really able to change his Church!

As Margaret Thatcher said of Mikhail Gorbachev, "we can do business together". As most of you may know, a few years after the then President of the Soviet Union began acknowledging the shortcomings of Communism; both the ideology of Communism and the Soviet Union itself disappeared. We can only hop a similar fate awaits the Catholic Church during the next few decades.

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Comment by Loren Miller on May 25, 2013 at 7:41am

I still have to call bullshit, Ravi.  So long as the RC church does NOTHING about their current transgressions, only a few of which I mentioned in my first comment, I see no reason to slide them any slack at all.  To use a biblical reference, they're still the ones with the log in their own eye while trying to remove the speck from someone else's.  In addition, there remains the matter of the response of the rest of Vatican City to this rather extraordinary (gross understatement) pronouncement by Francis I.  Will they support it?  Personally, I remain a skeptic.  I doubt that a massive and power-based organization such as the catholic church is going to pivot 180 degrees on the statement of one person, especially as it comes to an issue of doctrine as fundamental to the church as extra ecclesiam, nulla salus.  Remember, insofar as they are concerned, They Are THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN.  All other churches are shams in their eyes and they are the one path to salvation, or so they have thought for the better part of two millennia.  Do you seriously think they're going to dismiss that without some argument or controversy?  Personally, I'm not buying it for one second.

On top of which, we're only talking about WORDS here, words with no substantive action behind them.  Until and if the church of Rome takes serious action to clean up their own house and amend the multiple transgressions they have made against humankind, I see no reason whatsoever to treat with them or give them any kind of credence.  They hardly need us to solve their problems as it is.  What they need to do is to demonstrate their cognizance of their mistakes and movement toward rectifying them, and that sums to more than one statement from one pope.

I have no need for the RC church, and I don't see any particular reason why they should need me or any atheist.  I still see Francis' statement potentially as an attempt to defuse the fusillade of attacks rightfully leveled at his church by atheists who have long since recognized that the emperor has no clothes and indeed, never has worn so much as a stitch.  If this is an attempt to take the heat off, it is poorly considered, because I and many others will refuse to be that naive.

An attitude I recommend without hesitation.

Comment by Ravi Morey on May 25, 2013 at 6:45am


I agree with all of your criticisms of the Catholic Church. However, the new pope has offered a genuine olive branch. If his statement is followed up by confirming statements from others in the hierarchy (so far not the case) and also by real action against priests, bishops and cardinals who have committed crimes, we may be able to do business with them and help them dismantle themselves. That is what the West did when the Soviet leadership started drastically changing their ideology in the late 1980's. Let us not forget that Communism has at least as much blood on its hands as Catholicism. When the other side starts showing some contrition, we need to meet them partway. Please, don't let your fury about the crimes of the Catholic Church blind you to the fact that the pope is talking about a genuine change of doctrine here.

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 25, 2013 at 1:57am

Luara, I would be downright disgusted that any power, real or imagined, would be so cruel and vicious, would treat creatures of the Earth in such shabby ways, and make such outrageous demands on perfectly good and decent people. Furthermore, if I see any of my old ministers I will kick them in their scrotums, hard.

Comment by J. Morr on May 25, 2013 at 12:25am

So All Catholic dogma is now pointless. Giving money and supporting these evil narcissistic arrogant bastards is now pointless. That's what I heard him say.

Comment by Luara on May 24, 2013 at 9:55pm

Do we kiss Jebus's ass all day long

There is no heaven in ANY religion AFAIK that involves kissing Jesus' ass forever!  Unless you just invented a new religion.  

Even the best time in the world will get boring after a while

Then it's not the best time in the world.  If it's the best time in the world forever, by definition it's not boring. 

Comment by Loren Miller on May 24, 2013 at 7:30pm

Depends, Luara - which heaven?  Whose model?  Do we kiss Jebus's ass all day long or is it easy time for everyone, all you can eat with an open bar?  And for that matter, is it really FOREVER?  If so, I will PASS.  Even the best time in the world will get boring after a while, never mind praising Yahweh all day long.

I got to know just WHAT I'm evaluating before I can evaluate it!

Comment by Luara on May 24, 2013 at 6:07pm

So if you died and went to heaven, would you be

- upset

- flummoxed

- happy?

Upset because you were wrong about no God; flummoxed because you would be startled and disoriented, a naive angel; happy because well, it's heaven?

Comment by Loren Miller on May 24, 2013 at 1:08pm

Sure we CAN do business.  Question is: do we WANT to?  This remains the catholic church which has flaunted justice in its protection of priests who have abused children and their superiors who attempted to hide those crimes from civil authority (and failed!).  This is the catholic church which has given sanctuary to Bernard Cardinal Law after the considerable child abuse scandal in Boston, Massachusetts and permitted him to vote both for Ratzinger and Bergoglio, despite his complicity in that scandal.  This is the church which has yet to rescind its statement regarding condoms' spreading AIDS in Africa.

This is the church that still treats women as second-class citizens and homosexuals as an abomination.  It's the church that presumes infallibility on the part of its leader and the claim of being the One True Church.  And as to treating with atheists, I can't believe that Francis has the power to vitiate the doctrine of extra ecclesiam, nulla salus.  My guess it that he's raised more than a couple eyebrows with that statement, and how things will stand with it downstream from his making it will be interesting, to put it mildly.

Maybe someone can do business with Francis I.  The church he stands for is another matter.  If that makes me a curmudgeon as well as a skeptic, so be it.



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