“If you happen to be with an atheist who tells you that he does not believe in God, you can read him the whole library, where it says that God exists, and where it is proven that God exists, and he will not believe. [However] if in the presence of this same atheist you witness to a consistent, Christian life, something will begin to work in his heart [and] it will be your witness that brings him the restlessness on which the Holy Spirit works”. –Pope Francis
First of all, I like the, unrelated to this quote may I add, image Lighthouse Catholic Media is using for their post as it is pure PR. By showing the Pope
condescend to touch a man disfigured by facial tumors as a result of his neurofibromatosis, the church crafts his image as the benevolent leader and compassionate man who does not shy away from touching a man afflicted with a disfiguring disease. Like Jesus.
Call me naive, but it is my estimation that not treating someone with a disease or disfigurement like a monster is the most basic sort of human decency, not particularly warranting special accolades, especially not for a man of the cloth who claims to be all about love, acceptance and divine compassion.
Now I do not want to diss the Pope for having done something nice and then be accused of not being able to see the good things people do blah blah yawn, but I want to point out that the accolades the Pope received, both for touching a disfigured man as well as stating that atheists aren’t undiluted evil (a comment which was quietly reversed almost immediately) is emblematic of a larger narrative around Pope Francis that I find deeply objectionable; a narrative that basically says that since Pope Francis is not as overtly heinous as most popes, he is amazing, so let’s make him Time’s Person of the Year and celebrate him as a really amazing human being.
Manipulating people has never been easier.
Never mind that the Pope and the institution he represents neither have changed, nor have any intention to change any of the Catholic Church’s harmful doctrines – from homophobia to misogyny – let’s give the man a pass and call him a great Pope and person for at least not having said gay people will go to hell. Is this the standard now?
When Pope Francis says that “even the atheists have capacity for good” and thus aren’t evil monsters condemned to hell, he’s heralded as some sort of beacon of tolerance, even though it’s the bare minimum of decency to say that atheists have the capacity for goodness and doing good (although I would say that the Pope and I have very different ideas of what constitutes “doing good”).
Remember that despite all attempts at image control, the Pope is still the figurehead and leader of a wealthy international organization that is profoundly and institutionally misogynistic, anti-choice and homophobic and the Pope himself oversees the most powerfully influential lobby to deny women access to reproductive healthcare and bodily autonomy.
This is an organization that, between 2005 and 2012, has spent $6.5 million on campaigns against same-sex marriage and thus hate. Also note that neither the Pope’s nor the Catholic church’s positions have changed with regard to any of these issues.
It is just that now the Catholic Church, under the direction of Pope Francis, has decided to merely change the rhetoric, basically, with respect to how the church outwardly handles and talks about these issues without having any intention to actually change the harmful policies the church subscribes to and advocates. In the corporate world that is called white-washing.
And what about all those child abuse cases by the church and the cardinals that cover them up? He hasn’t done anything in that regard either. But hey, at least he doesn’t abuse children himself, so let’s celebrate him as an amazing man taking the catholic church in a new direction.
Feeding hungry people does not make Francis a great or exceptional pope. Frankly, it is his job. It is what Jesus taught. Francis doesn’t get a pat in the back for doing something that he’s known he needs to do since he signed up for this whole Pope thing. The pope is still against same sex marriage, he is still against contraception, he is still against abortion. Outwardly he is preaching about doing good but actually he stands for evil things – no matter how politely he talks about them.
Remember that many religious people help feed the hungry but still think gays are evil and abortion murder etc. Feeding the poor is not the litmus test of goodness or change.
As to the quote itself, all I can say is, what a load of unfounded, patronizing garbage.
The catholic church has been spending millions of their (tax exempt) dollars on hate and denying women access to reproductive care; money they could have used to feed and care for the needy, they have instead chosen to use to deny other people their rights and quash their autonomy. And now this charlatan Pope Francis actually has the nerve to question the morality of atheists – trying to teach us about love, caring and Christian values? What a colossal asshole.
(By the way, what and where are all those libraries filled with evidence of a god? I thought the only “proof “this schmuck and his feeble-minded followers had for the existence of god was the pesky Bible and wishful thinking, also known as faith. – Boy, when religious people pile it on, they sure pile it on high).