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.
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.