The Pope in his Christmas address rattled off a list of wars and violent conflicts in the world-- Syria, Nigeria, Congo, the Israelis and the Palestinians-- and called for peace, adding:

"I invite even non-believers to desire peace, with your desire, a desire that widens the heart. Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace," said Pope Francis to sustained applause from the crowd.

I appreciate the intent-- if not the PR value-- of the Pope's completely useless annual call for world peace on his imaginary God's birthday. I'm less appreciative that the Pope included "even" atheists, as though non-believers are the outliers on world peace.

Really, Francis. What wars, acts of violence, or terrorism are being waged over non-belief in God, as opposed to belief in dogmas of religion, ideology, or fascism that "even" atheists must be invited to desire peace? Why the implication that atheists should be excluded or would desire would peace any less than believers do?

It seems to me the Pope has it backwards. If he wants peace he should invite "even" believers to reject dogma in the name of reason. It won't stop any wars, but it'll correctly identify the outliers on world peace.

Tags: Atheism, Christmas, Francis, Pope

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Must you look at this negatively?

I look at this as a sign that discrimination against atheists (intentional or not) is still acceptable on the world stage in ways considered beyond the pale for other groups.

There would have been outrage if the Pope had invited "even" Muslims or "even" homosexuals to desire peace. But there is praise for inviting "even" atheists to desire this virtue. You don't suppose that's rooted in a stereotypical prejudice against atheists that morality requires God?

I appreciate the intent (if not the effectiveness) of stopping war and terror by inviting faithless "desire" to bolster faithful prayer. But I more appreciate how this shows the attitude of the person issuing the invitation, or perhaps more tellingly, the mindset of his audiences around the world. The Godless are no less likely to desire peace and no more susceptible to violence and prejudice that we need so special an invitation.

very true all around, and as it turns out I do desire peace so no trouble there.  That is to say on a physical level, I don't like war and violence.  At a political level I'm very much at war against all fundamentalist religious types.  Anyone who believes their superstitious world views should affect how others live.  The pope is one of these people, so I wont miss an opportunity to slate him, regardless of what he chooses to disguise his message as.

I feel I really need to add that I have no problem what so ever with religious people who practice their views in peace and without detriment to others.

Things that I would not consider peaceful and without detriment to others include

  • denial of blood to children (even your own)
  • promotion of sexist behaviour
  • campaigning against the use of contraceptives
  • persecution of the LGBT community in part or its entirety
  • Indoctrination of youth 
  • condoning violent acts against other community / religions

I could continue but I feel I would be listing the obvious at this point.  None the less, I'm aware my views are strong at times, but I believe that if you cause death by forcing your beliefs on others, you should be tried for murder as if you used any other weapon.

I feel like your words are harsh.  To say 'Even Atheists' is holding an olive branch out - Not to suggest we are a lesser minority and should be included at the end of the sentence, after theists.  I like the thought and it warms my heart to know that maybe this Pope actually means what he says and does.  And that perhaps it is a good thing and maybe more Popes will follow his lead once they begin to see the positive feedback they are receiving.  

To say 'Even Atheists' is holding an olive branch out

I agree. I'm simply pointing out the strange irony of a bartender wading through a drunken brawl to offer an olive branch to someone who doesn't drink and isn't fighting.

Not to suggest we are a lesser minority and should be included at the end of the sentence, after theists.

I disagree. I found the Pope's olive branch (offered "even" for me) more condescending than kind, both for its odd superfluousness and for some of the reasons Reg describes below.

@ Gallup's Mirror: I like the "Bartender" analogy. I will re-use it.

I dislike the word “even” in the way it is used. He uses it as if somehow we are an underclass group of people compared to the Catholic congregation. It seems to imply that appeals to peace are somehow more likely to work if they come from the faithful rather than the faithless. I do not accept that the Pope even understands what an Atheist is. Recently he also said that we would be welcomed into Heaven if we were good and followed our conscience. I am not an atheist because I don’t believe in his god. I am one because I don’t believe in his imaginary god. Are all the good Jews, Muslims and Hindus also allowed to bypass believing in Jesus to get to the Father?

So as an Atheist whose conscience wants to bring hundreds of his priests to justice, give free condoms to help the spread of HIV infection and attend the weddings of gay friends, I still get to become immortal? I am only bemused by such statements. I think Catholics are more annoyed or upset with these pronouncements than I am. It is all meaningless waffle to me.

Recently I heard a bishop say that while he understood how “some gay people might make good parents” they should still have to admit that the “ideal family scenario is the traditional one between and man and woman”. How horrible such statements are to single parent or same sex families.

I don’t care what the Catholic Church has to say about anything. It should disband if it wants to make the world a better place. It has nothing to offer me.

So when I hear the annual appeal for peace around the world I just think “Yeah whatever, same as last year”. This is because it is normally a call to the flock to pray for peace. We all know how effective millions of prayers are. Where the Pope and other religious leaders might garner some respect from the Atheist sector is if we heard them shout STOP when it comes to religions violence. I would agree with him when he calls for an end to religious intolerance but most of that is from other religions.

However I want to hear him condemn without equivocation such violence as when last October 46 people, including 14 women and 2 children, were massacred in the mainly Christian village of Sadad in Syria. I don’t want to hear him say how sorry he is to hear it or ask anyone to pray it better. I want him to hold the Muslim extremists that carried it out guilty of crimes against humanity. I want him to host a meeting with Muslim leaders and get them all around a table and DO SOMETHING about it. When Christians commit mass murder against Muslims I want to hear it condemned by all religious leaders. Until my ears start to hurt from the tumult of their respective condemnations they have nothing else to say to me that I want to hear.

I agree totally. When I think about it anyone who wants to act like he's the pope or something has to be a piece of work almost by definition. I'll never forget when I got in trouble for tracking water and sand into the church entrance to escape a thunderstorm. I was ten years old and already suspecting it was sick all the way to the top.

The full text English translation of the pope's Christmas greeting is here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/text-of-popes-chris...

It does not include the passage @Gallup reports, which was reported to be extemporaneous. 

So what we have is a native Spanish speaker, giving off-the-cuff remarks in Italian, being hastily translated by a Reuters reporter with access only to outdoor audio,  for a dashed off same-hour wire report, and criticized by @Gallup for a subtle nuance of American English idiom.

Let's give the man a break.  Or at least, exercise some modicum of rationality over inherent prejudices.

Am I suppose to accept that the Pope, at his elevated position, cannot be taken to task for comments he makes "on the fly?" Why does one have to concern themselves so much with prepared statements and speeches before talking in public? The pope should be savvy enough to think on his/her feet! Admittedly the idea of a her pope is a bit of a stretch. 
The pope and his position deserves, no, demands, a high level of scrutiny by onlookers.  Thankfully, his authority and relevance to our evolving civilization becomes increasingly diminished with time. 

I, for one, am not "taking him to task."

As Pope's go, he's the best so far.

It's progress.

He was only good enough to get best dressed man for 2013 by Esquire magazine. The women just love a man in uniform.

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