From the article linked at Friendly Atheist:

NOTE: For those who don't feel like following the link and reading the article, below is the meat of the matter.

The Vatican has released the first encyclical letter written by Pope Francis.

That’s big news for Catholics, who comprise the target audience for this sort of document, and who often put a great deal of stock in the pontiff’s opinions on how to live their faith. In atheist circles, the most likely reaction is a shrug, a raised eyebrow, and a big ‘so what?’ But with news about outreach to the ‘nones’ and dialogue with non-believers making headlines in the early days of Francis’ pontificate – and it is still early days, at least in relative terms – this document is instructive. It gives us a window into what the pope really thinks about the irreligious.

  • Atheism weakens community ties. For some reason, Francis seems to believe that religious faith is required to “build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope” (51). As he sees it, “the light of faith is capable of enhancing the richness of human relations”, while without it “nothing could truly keep men and women united” (51). (Heck of a burden to put on faith, if you ask me.)
  • Atheists make gods of other things. The basic argument Francis seems to set forth is that atheists secretly know God exists, but we’re scared he might demand too much sacrifice of us, so we pretend to think he’s not real because we are rebellious and naughty. Then we pick something else to venerate in God’s place, because we can’t just not worship anything, and “before an idol, there is no risk that we will be called to abandon our security” (13). It’s a bit of a pat on the back (at our expense) for the courageous faithful.
  • Atheists are self-centered. Chances are, the one thing we’re busy worshiping is ourselves: “idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the center of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands” (13). Francis really seems to think that only faith can “guide us beyond our isolated selves” (4) or provide “concrete directions for emerging from the desert of the selfish and self-enclosed ego” (46). By contrast, “faith is God’s free gift, which calls for humility and the courage to trust (14)”.
  • Atheists have no moral compass. Carrying his ‘faith as light’ metaphor to dizzying heights, Francis argues that in the absence of faith/light, “it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere” (3). No one can be good without God because they attribute their good actions to themselves instead of to him, and thus “their lives become futile and their works barren” (19). Essentially the only way to be a good person is by pretending it’s not really you doing good things; it’s God making you do them.
  • If we really tried to find God, we’d find him. This one is quite a slap in the face for the many unbelievers who became such after a long and sincere process of religious seeking; it suggests that we were either secretly searching in bad faith, or our efforts were defective. If “he can be found also by those who seek him with a sincere heart” (35), clearly we must have been insincere. It’s our fault, not God’s, if we couldn't detect him.
  • Atheists lead impoverished lives. Since “faith enriches life in all its dimensions” (6) and is “the priceless treasure [. . .] which God has given as a light for humanity’s path” (7), we can assume he envisions us all living in the psychological equivalent of a Dickensian poorhouse. I get the sense that Francis sort of feels bad for us, that he can’t really grasp the concept that atheists might sometimes feel peace and joy even though we think there’s no God.
  • An atheist can’t really understand love. Francis explains that “only to the extent that love is grounded in truth [read: God] can it endure over time” (27). I don’t really understand why he thinks that, but it seems clear that he doesn't accept non-God-oriented love as real love. Meanwhile, “those who believe are never alone” (39).

What do you folks think about this, especially in regard to a certain <insert bloated title> Bobert's recent thread about how the New Pope is way better for atheists than Pope Classic according to one guy on the internet.

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If Bergoglio wanted to 'change' anything he deemed 'unfit' or 'not of his own opinion', he would have done so.

And yet when respectfully collaborating with another author, that's not what any of us really do. 

Anyone who sets off on the path of doing good to others is already, even without knowing it, drawing near to God.  - Lumen fidei

@Bob - Even more important though are the pope's efforts with respect to Syria etc. etc.

Nothing will change - how do you live with that?

The rest is spin - a very good PR unit - misery, death of women and children, caused by your church, pedophilia, corruption and evil will roll on.

Nothing will change - how do you live with that?

I accept it.  People will be greedy.  People will be wicked.  People will be ignorant or mean.  Different groups will go to war based on long-standing grudges.  Strong nations like the U.S. will bully weaker nations.  Individuals and corporations will try to manipulate things to their own advantage.   The wages of original sin; the fallen state of humanity.  We didn't start the fire; it's been burnin' since the world's been turnin'.

We are just part of the resistance.  We do our best to fight the good fight, to run the race.  Things do change, in that each time I see a student "get it", each time a bully pauses for a moment, each time someone reflects and changes their heart or mind it is a victory.   The Church (meaning the people of God, not the institution) is in this for the long haul, soul by soul.  At that level, and over time, things really do change.  But it requires sacrifice, and faith, and hope, and especially caritas.

"A mix of crows and vipers." Bertone - a cardinal who was 'moved on'.

This phrase combines Italian distaste for informers ("crows") with a long-standing Christian suspicion of snakes.

Bertone knew exactly what was going on - but did nothing.

A person, in this case, Paolo Gabriele who exposed wrong doing and corruption is called a whistleblower, not crows or vipers. In the scheme of things, they are very brave people, as they know full well, in this case, the force and power of the vatican will come crashing down on them - and it did. Paulo exposed the corruption of the vatican bank, and instead of Benedict hailing him as a hero, who stood up for what is right, Paulo got eighteen months in jail, and because of Paulo, the vatican bank has a level of accountability - whether that actually makes any difference, is doubtful.

Each pope, not just Benedict, kept blinkered, so they can say, "I know nothing", is in itself corrupt, don't rock the boat - but, in this case corruption, was exposed.

Nothing will change - how do you live with the fact that you are an excusist for a corrupt business, charlatans, liars, cheats and protectors of pedophiles - how do these catholics live with themselves, and the shame they have bought on themselves, and the good people in the catholic church.

1. Recognition of Gays as equal
2. Celibacy
3. Contraception
4. Misogyny

While these four things are enshrined in your catholicism - NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

This says it all.
We walk by faith, not by sight - Lumen Fidel

1 Community: I agree, atheism is not conducive to a tight community.

2 Other gods: Bollocks

3 Self-centered: Sort of but it needn't be that way

4 No moral compass: that is just stupid.

5 If we tried: More stupid

6 Impoverished lives: Maybe, spiritual practice, ritual and a context of ones place in the world are powerful personal perspectives.

7 Understanding love: I do think the pragmatism of an atheist tends to shit on romance.

I give Pope 4 out of 10, it's not all bollocks.


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