Pope Francis extends a hand of friendship to atheists, even though we’re disastrous for the world

Pope Francis carries a palm frond at the Palm Sunday mass in St Peter's Square. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

Pope Francis carries a palm frond at the Palm Sunday mass in St Peter’s Square. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

THE NEW man at the Vatican, Pope Francis, staged a love-in for Jews, Muslims and even non-believers when he held his first ecumenical meeting in Rome.

Francis said that he believed there is a “very spiritual bond” between Catholics and Jews around the world, and he praised the Muslim leaders present, remarking that they were men who:

Adore the one, living, and merciful God and who call upon Him in prayer.

Turning to atheism, he said that  the “attempt to eliminate God and the Divine from the horizon of humanity” by some has been disastrous for the world, but:

I feel close to all men and women who, although not claiming to belong to any religious tradition, still feel themselves to be in search of truth, goodness and beauty. [Atheists and nones] are our precious allies in the effort to defend human dignity, in building a peaceful coexistence between peoples, and in carefully protecting creation.

According to this report, a number of atheists are favourable toward the new Pope, mainly because of his humanitarian goals.

In an article entitled Why This Atheist Has a New Hope in Pope Francis, author Luis Ruuska, 17, echoed this sentiment from a personal standpoint.

As an atheist, I should not have any interest in the matters of the Catholic Church. … But I do. I care about who is the head of the Catholic Church because similar to the way that one country’s economy can have drastic effects on another’s, what direction the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics take affects the rest of us.

Ruuska added:

If attitudes within Catholicism on women and women’s rights, poverty, and the LGBTQ community change on the global scale starting with the Vatican, then they will gradually change on the country-by-country scale as well,. I do believe the pontiff to be a genuine man when it comes to taking care of the poor and perhaps we will see an increased interest in combating poverty from the Catholic Church.

I might not believe in God, but I believe that Catholics and atheists can work together just as all of humanity can work together towards equality and justice when we put the needs of modern people first and the arcane doctrine second. He might not be the one to approve doctrine condoning same-sex marriage or approve doctrine changing global attitudes towards women and their rights, but Pope Francis certainly has all of the makings to shift the Catholic Church in a progressive direction; that is, if he wants to.


35 responses to “Pope Francis extends a hand of friendship to atheists, even though we’re disastrous for the world”

  1. Archie says:

    If the new Pope cares so much about people in poverty, perhaps he should consider relaxing the Catholic Church’s attitude toward contraception. Or doesn’t he have the divine insight to appreciate the link between the two issues?

  2. Stephen Mynett says:

    Should that quote from Ruuska actually begin like this: “As an atheist about to turn catholic . . . “

  3. Barry Duke says:

    And from South Africa, a grovelling apology from a Catholic cardinal over his stupid pronouncement on paedophiles:

  4. barriejohn says:

    See – we’re all Catholics really; we just don’t know it yet!

  5. barriejohn says:

    Barry: I sent you this a little while ago.

  6. Stuart H. says:

    Will this fascist collaborator be extending the hand of friendship to the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina, I wonder?
    I was amused, though hardly suprised, to see that they were not amongst the high profile groups supposedly representing the poor and oppressed at his coming out party.

  7. John A says:

    Luis Ruuska has only to look back to get a good idea of what is to come. Unless the Pope decides to announce that the RC church has been totally wrong on all of the major issues it has been so vociferous on since its inception then little will change. I foresee a major public relations onslaught to try and turn the tide of public hostility to its hypocrisy, using the new Pope as a guiser to avert the attention away from the foibles of his predecessor and take some of the heat off deriving from the numerous scandals that seem to be perpetually happening. It’ll be just a case of same meat but different gravy in the Vatican.

  8. Marky Mark says:

    (he said that the “attempt to eliminate God and the Divine from the horizon of humanity” by some has been disastrous for the world,)
    …Really !! Is there a cult of Atheist raping and abusing children? Is there a cult of Atheist strapping bombs to themselves and blowing up buses? Is there a cult of Atheist bombing abortion clinics? Is there a cult of Atheist hijacking airplanes and flying them into skyscrapers?

  9. Marky Mark says:

    This guy is trying to blame all that religion has done and place it on another group. Like blaming a hurricane on the non-believers as their gods way of showing how mad he is…and killing and demoralizing this gods followers. What a prick this god is. Instead of providing proof he exists, he tortures his followers for the acts of others…sounds man-made to me. Like an insurance scam.

  10. John A says:

    @Barry Duke: I enjoyed the last line of the link you posted to the Telegraph:
    ‘He said on Saturday the church should be poor and remember that its mission is to serve the poor.’
    Is that from the same Pope I saw all over the news getting inaugurated, swathed in gold, sitting on a gold chair, surrounded by so much bloody gold I thought it was going out of fashion!

  11. Broga says:

    I think this man has the potential to be worse than Ratzi. Hypocrisy oozes from him. He needs to put right quite a bit of his own history before he starts wanting to befriend atheists. I wouldn’t get close to him for fear of being contaminated.

  12. Angela_K says:

    This is a devious move by Papa Frankie saying he extends a hand of friendship to us non-believers while hiding a knife ready to stab us in the back. Also, he has probably done this to make him look the good guy knowing full well no right minded person would want anything to do with his vile organisation.

  13. barriejohn says:

    He’s trying to “palm us off” with with his overtures of peace. It makes me cross!

  14. JohnMWhite says:

    @Stephen Mynett: That is very unfair. You’re putting words and positions in Ruuska’s mouth simply for not sharing your revulsion for the Pope 100%. Just because somebody recognises that the Pope’s teaching is important because of its consequences for a lot of people doesn’t mean that person is about to get themselves baptised and rape some minors.

    @John A: To be fair, the Pope refused to sit on his gold throne at his inauguration and did not wear gold himself. He does seem to be trying to pay lip service to this poor church idea at least, with more success in a couple of weeks than Ratzinger managed in his entire tenure. His fellow Cardinals, on the other hand, seem loathe to give up the pretty outfits at the moment.

    That being said, I don’t believe for a second he has an ounce of respect for non-believers. Even in extending an olive branch, he couldn’t help himself but pander to the hatred and fear his followers have by suggesting that secularism had been a disaster. That’s not the right footing to start off with. It is simply dishonest and voids any attempt at bridging the gap. It would have needed a very large bridge, anyway, because Ratzinger and countless other clergy who caused serious harm to minors and vulnerable persons remain under the Vatican’s protection, and this church continues to count international criminals like Robert Mugabe and Tony Blair among its proud membership.

  15. Daz says:

    [Atheists and nones] are our precious allies in the effort to defend human dignity, in building a peaceful coexistence between peoples, and in carefully protecting creation.

    Last I looked, “human dignity” didn’t include the concept “kowtowing to invisible bullies in the sky.”

    Last I looked, it didn’t include the right of some bloody cardinal to poke his nose through my bedroom curtains to see if I’m having sex in an approved manner with a person whose gender and marital status he approves of.

    Last I looked, “peaceful coexistence” didn’t include having people arrested for pointing out that that an alleged miracle is, in fact, bad plumbing.

    Last I looked, “peaceful coexistence” didn’t include the idea that if people disagree with your doctrines, you should attempt to force them to obey them anyway, by lobbying for them to be made into secular law.

    Oh, and it’s not “creation.” There is no “creator.” It’s called “the universe.”

    Sorry, but “a bit friendlier than the previous chappy” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement in my book.

  16. Ex Patriot says:

    As an Atheist maybe for longer than alot you have been here on earth I see no change coming from the most evil organization on the planet, they just put another homophobic, misogynistic, anti women old man as head of it. He will live in comfort while those whom the church takes fron live in poverty, with a phoney promise of better things after they drop dead.

  17. David Anderson says:

    Frankie can take his hand of friendship and stick it up his arse.

    The way the media and others are wetting themselves over every move this man makes, it makes me wonder how long it will be before they start reffering to him as Saint Francis. The cynic in me tells me that’s why he chose the name in the first place.

  18. barriejohn says:

    Breaking News: Four Cardinals Arrested!

    “You can’t stay in the Vatican dresssed like that” – hahaha!!!

  19. David Anderson says:

    Where are you off to barriejohn?

  20. Christ is Power says:

    Atheists, you must understand God exists and is only Saviour!
    Atheism is evil and Christianity is what we all have to remember about, it’s the Light of our life.

  21. Stephen Mynett says:

    I do not think this pope will be any different, even if he wants to be the rcc is too entrenched in its own dogma. It is certainly far too early to be singing his praises in the way Ruuska has. Everything he has done so far is only gesture, although you cant blame him for that because of lack of time. The question is will he do anything positive, unlikely I think but I will give him time before a final judgement.

  22. asquith says:

    What a hideous and terrifying thought in just about every possible way.

    No more rational thought, individualism, nothing but an unfree existence, if not literally controlled by Mother Church then still without any of what defines us.

  23. barriejohn says:

    The Telegraph pursues an agenda of its own even more strongly than the Mail does. Bingham has apparently churned out at least four articles in similar vein in the last twenty four hours. In the following he jumps from evidence that only one in seven people would “never” resort to prayer in an emergency to concluding that six out of seven people believe in the power of prayer:

  24. lonborghini funghini says:

    Euuwwwe!!! The pope’s hand. I don’t think so.

  25. John A says:

    @JohnMWhite: To be fair, look at the piccie at the top here of the Palm Sunday mass- Pope Francis is wearing a hat and cloak with gold braid. If he didn’t actually sit on the gold chair it certainly wasn’t because it was being collected after being sold on E-Bay; that will still be around when the next Pope is inaugurated. ‘For sale, money needed to help the poor’ – we won’t be seeing that sign hanging from articles of the family fortune any time soon; he’ll not be allowed, even as Pope, to kill the Golden Goose that keeps on shitting in their nest that is the Vatican. I agree with you in that he doesn’t have an ounce of respect for non-believers; he’s there as a damage control diplomat, trying to say what they consider people want to hear. I don’t believe he could possibly have risen to the top in that organisation without knowing about and being a part of the numerous scandals; knowing about and not speaking out against the wrong doing makes him culpable.

  26. barriejohn says:

    He’s going to live in a council flat:

    Sorry, but this is nothing more than gesture politics!

  27. barriejohn says:

    Someone else has picked up on that CofE poll, and their cavalier way with statistics:

    They’re religiots; what truck would they have with the truth?

  28. Lazy Susan says:

    barriejohn – When I am polled about things like this, I ask if the results are binding, eg if a majority believe in prayer, does that make it so? Generally the pollster does not understand what I am going on about, but I get a little bit of fun.

  29. Broga says:

    @Lazy Susan: There was a time when the vast majority were convinced the world was flat. Ken believes it was created 6,000 years ago. The approach of the clergy appears to be that any deceit will do if it furthers their religious agenda.

  30. Lazy Susan says:

    Broga – The extent to which the various religions quote statistics (*) about their membership is remarkable, as if it was a popularity contest. Well of course inter-religious competition is a popularity contest, no more and no less. There is no other basis. But you would think they might be a bit more circumspect. The irony would surely hurt if they could see it.

    (*) Smaller groups always quote percentage growth, while larger groups quote absolute growth. Just think, if you start a new religion and your pal joins, then you have grown by 100%!

  31. barriejohn says:

    Daily Mail poll today:

    Should Britain spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on space exploration?

    Coming shortly:

    Should this country send our hard-earned cash to support lazy foreigners?

    Should taxpayers’ money be used to support scrounging immigrants?

  32. JMK says:

    The agenda is obvious. The pope is not trying to win souls for Christ, encouraging the lost to accept Jesus as one’s Lord and Savior, but on the other hand, to encouage a replacement of faith for ‘acceptance of all belief systems’, focusing on man, in my opinion and setting the stage for the antichrist who will attempt to be seen as God and who, through the Devil, will want all to worship him. We are seeing prophesy fulfilled, although seemingly slow at times, right before our eyes. I thank God for His word so that I can understand the purpose behind the behaviors and actions I see.

  33. remigius says:

    Oooh, another nutter!

  34. JohnMWhite says:

    @JMK – If god is smart enough to know what’s happening and predict it in his word, why doesn’t he put a stop to it? Seems like he has a rather Tory-style laissez-faire attitude toward not letting everybody burn forever. And what’s in it for the pope? If he’s consorting with the devil to help steal souls away from Christ (and Christ is an absolute butterfingers who loses these souls very easily apparently) then what does Francis get out of it? A slightly smaller poker up his backside for eternity?

    I may sound flippant but I’m honestly curious. How do you square the idea that god is in charge with the belief that the devil and humans are working together just to inevitably suffer forever anyway?