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Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate
Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the end of his weekly audience April 10 at the Vatican.
May 23rd, 2013
03:59 PM ET

Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) -– American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers, saying that the new pontiff's historic outreach is helping to topple longstanding barriers.

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”

Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis' outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.

“I gather from this statement that his view of the world's religious and philosophical diversity is expanding,” Speckhardt said. “While humanists have been saying for years that one can be good without a god, hearing this from the leader of the Catholic Church is quite heartening."

He continued, “If other religious leaders join him, it could do much to reduce the automatic distrust and discrimination that atheists, humanists, and other nontheists so regularly face. “

Francis’ comments received a great deal of attention on social media, with a number of people asking whether the Catholic leader believes that atheists and agnostics go to heaven, too.

On Thursday, the Vatican issued an “explanatory note on the meaning to ‘salvation.'"

The Rev. Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that people who aware of the Catholic church “cannot be saved” if they “refuse to enter her or remain in her.”

At the same time, Rosica writes, “every man or woman, whatever their situation, can be saved. Even non-Christians can respond to this saving action of the Spirit. No person is excluded from salvation simply because of so-called original sin.”

Rosica also said that Francis had “no intention of provoking a theological debate on the nature of salvation,” during his homily on Wednesday.

Although the pope's comments about salvation surprised some, bishops and experts in Catholicism say Francis was expressing a core tenet of the faith.

"Francis was clear that whatever graces are offered to atheists (such that they may be saved) are from Christ," the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a conservative Catholic priest, wrote on his blog.

"He was clear that salvation is only through Christ’s Sacrifice.  In other words, he is not suggesting – and I think some are taking it this way – that you can be saved, get to heaven, without Christ."

Chad Pecknold, an assistant professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, agreed with Zuhlsdorf, pointing out that the pope’s comments came on the Feast of Saint Rita, the Catholic patron saint of impossible things.

“The remarks about atheists show that there is even a saint for atheists,” Pecknold said. “Including all of humanity, on this day especially, remarks like that are almost called for.”

“To stress that the gospel redeems all people, including atheists, is the teaching of the church,” he added. “This is an objective fact that the church believes.”

Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, said Francis' comments reflect “the interfaith and inter-community work many of us nontheists are dedicated to.”

That said, Epstein hopes that lay Catholics are listening.

“I hope Catholics, and all people hearing the pope's statement, will recognize that his words about atheists need to symbolize much more than just a curiosity or an exception to the rule,” Epstein said. “If someone thinks there are only a few atheists out there doing good just like Catholics do, that's a major misunderstanding that can lead to prejudice and discrimination.”

The pope’s comments come a few months after he told worshipers that Catholics should be close to all men and women, including those who don’t belong to any religious tradition.

"In this we feel the closeness also of those men and women who, while not belonging to any religious tradition, feel, however the need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God, and who are our precious allies in efforts to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation,” Francis said shortly after his election as pope in March.

Even atheists like David Silverman, president of American Atheists, who has had an antagonistic relationship with the Catholic church, welcomed the pope’s remarks.

“While the concept of Jesus dying for atheists is wrong on many levels (especially given that Jesus himself promised hell for blasphemers), I can appreciate the pope's `good faith' effort to include atheists in the moral discussion,” Silverman said.

“Atheists on the whole want no part in Catholicism, of course, but we are all interested in basic human rights.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (3,731 Responses)
  1. Bob

    So, let me get this straight: This pope, who has gay/lesbians in his own ranks, says that people who shun God at every turn (just read some of the comments on this page), are going to get into Heaven, based solely on works; but a gay/lesbian Christian, who have lived everyday for Christ in their hearts and mind, will not get into Heaven, simply because of who they sleep with? Absolutely RIDICULOUS! And he obviously needs to reassess his priorities. What a hypocrite!

    May 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • Keleynal

      Nope, not what he said. He simply stated that atheists are not beyond salvation, and good works can lead to salvation. Taken by itself, the statement is a bit misleading. The clarification throughout the rest of the article makes it clear that the Catholic church does not believe that good works alone will result in salvation. Which is something most Protestants agree with as well.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • JL

      He literally didn't say any of that. CNN's blogs are scarcely trustworthy let alone people's comments below them. You are just jumping at the opportunity to confirm what you already believe.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  2. CP in FL

    There is no evidence of god or heaven. Religion is the oldest scam. Jesus was not the son of god. Religion was created by man for the following reasons: 1. In order to try and understand the world around us. (When the bible was written, people believed that the Earth was flat and the Earth was the center of the universe) 2. In order to keep the masses from killing one another. 3. In order to fool the masses into donating their money to the church. Praying does nothing. If you want to make a difference, get off of your knees and go and do something useful.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      You're right in some parts there. While you could say that it is designed to keep people from kiIIing each other it is acutally to get people to kiII for the leaders (political or religious). If a person thinks, as missguided as it is) that they will go to paradise for kiIIing in the name of their god then they will be glad to do it.

      It is completely about power though.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  3. Sean

    The irony here is that by embracing humanism, religion makes itself less necessary. Once people no longer have indoctrinated fear to prevent them from asking important questions about their religions, they can make up their own minds. People that don't have faith will be able to admit it to themselves at least.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  4. myreply

    The best way to know the answer is to study the Bible and find out. God wants everyone to be saved but they must repent of their sins and belive in God. God gives people the choice to accept or deny Him. To gain eternal life and be in heaven, we must belive in God, repent of our sins, and stop sinning. Doing good works doesn't gain salvation but is an outcome of our love for God. I would encourage anyone interested in this to study the Bible and learn what God says instead of believing what other people think.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Madtown

      And, humans who don't know the bible exists? What should they do?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • CP in FL

      Why study a book of fiction written by men thousands of years ago? The bible does not describe god. God was made up by man. What exactly does god have to do with this world anyway? Does god control the weather? Does god control you? Does god perform miracles? If yes, then why aren’t there miracles every day or ever? Numerous studies have shown that praying does nothing to help people who are sick for instance. If your child has an infection, all the praying in the world will not help. But a simple trip to the doctor to get antibiotics will do the trick. God is not required.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • EJ

      People don't reject god because they don't understand him or the bible. They reject both because both are fiction. AND... Christianity's position that good works are irrelevant without belief is DISGUSTING and IMMORAL.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Most atheists/agnostics know the bible better than most believers. I dont believe in your god BECAUSE of the bible, not in spite of it.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • ThereIsNoGod

      Study the bible? Which parts? Just the ones you agree with? Seems you're a firm believer in what that book has to say. How many people have you killed because they work on the sabbath (Exodus 31:15)? That's a law in the bible, yet you don't seem to be in prison for mass murder.

      You are all just hypocrites.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  5. EJ

    Finally, religion is evolving in a positive direction; respect for personal responsibility and good character, not a belief in the imaginary.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  6. Dan B

    Heaven for anybody? No. Grow up.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  7. Shay

    Well........ there are going to be a lot of people waking up in HELL.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Madtown

      That's nice. Fortunately, you have no idea whether this is true or not.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • ThereIsNoGod

      It's apparent that you believe in hell, so answer me this: if we are to burn and suffer, what exactly will be burning and suffering? Not our bodies as they will be buried in the ground. We only feel pain because of the touch and pain receptors in our skin. You wouldn't retain any of the physical attributes in hell; you would most likely (if the place actually existed, which it doesn't) just a ball of energy or something. Not the shape you are today.

      Do you believe in Allah? Krisha? Vishnu? Thor? Zeus? No? Well now you see why we don't believe in your god.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  8. chooselife

    A baby growing in a mother’s womb doesn’t know any life after the womb he his comfortable. But that baby can’t see our world until he comes out and is born into this world. What if he didn’t believe there’s life after the womb?

    May 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • LinCA

      @chooselife

      You said, "A baby growing in a mother’s womb doesn’t know any life after the womb he his comfortable. But that baby can’t see our world until he comes out and is born into this world. What if he didn’t believe there’s life after the womb?"
      There is pretty solid evidence there is life after the womb. Not so much for your fairy tale life after life.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Babies can't believe anything. But if they believed incorrectly, what difference would it make? Besides, the real world is out there. If the baby had the intelligence and the tools, he could experiment and measure and find out that there was a larger world out there. There are no such experiments for any gods; they're invisible and undetectable and irrelevant. Belief is what's relevant, and that's what we fight against: Stupid beliefs that cause people to fly planes into buildings over blind faith.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • chooselife

      LinCA,

      And what is your solid evidence? Did you tell the baby that he or she is coming out of the womb? What evidence does the baby's perspective have? When a baby come out of the womb, he or she cries because of uncomfort. thats why they swaddle a baby in a blanket to remind that baby of the womb.

      Did you choose when you were born out of your mothers womb? or did God choose that? Or we just appear hear all by accident. If you study science the way Earth is even habitual it amazing!

      May 24, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • snowboarder

      @choose, the baby does not have perspective. it's brain is not sufficiently developed. your analogy is absurd.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      What a ridiculous analogy. You will go to any length to perpetuate your fantasy. A baby in the womb has barely any cognitive function. But what it does experience is REAL. As we grow and develop into adults our brains cognitive functions allow us to make sense of this world...in REAL terms. But the transcendental realm you believe we attain after death has no REAL analog. Just speculation on your part with nothing to back it up.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • chooselife

      @snowboarder,

      Now we can say the same thing for us here on Earth. According to scientist we only use about 10% of our brains, so could it be that we can't fully understand or perceive the next world after we die? Just like the baby? Trust in Godly wisdom not man’s understanding.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      According to scientist we only use about 10% of our brains

      This is bullshit. Citation ...put up or shut up.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • chooselife

      @AtheistSteve,

      The hardest thing for man to accept is that God is soverign and control it all. I have not disrepected you but I understand this is hard for you. Sometimes you have to pick your battles. I have planted enough seeds for the day. I will allow the Holy Spirit to work your life. God Bless you.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      chooselife

      No...it's not hard at all. As demonstrated by the overwhelming ease that billions of people like you have shown time and time again. It is however quite delusional. If acceptance is measured only by how willing one is to ignore common sense and logic, to cling to something that has no basis in fact. To choose to be blind to evidence to the contrary. You might as well tell me that wishing on a star will produce tangible results. Faith is gullibility.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • chooselife

      @AtheistSteve

      You said "No...it's not hard at all". – So you do agree there is a God and that he is soverign? Believing in God has no logic is only by faith. So it may not add up to man's understanding. But I understand why it doesn't make sense to you, because you seek proof and eveidence. I see God in people. The biggest way that I have seen the Holy Spirit work is through people and their testimony of there lives. I have know people that have been crack heads, drug dealers and when they called upon Jesus they were immediately saved for those things. I have gone to mission trips to countries and seen people possesed by evil spirits and become deliver. I see God in my life, what he has done for me and my friends and family. I have seen him change my friend an aethist now a christian and is life has completly transformed, I see the women on the news that survived for 17 days buried under the rumble of the building. You see, God is everywhere, we just have to look for it, and you will mostly find it through people. I really wish you all the best.

      May 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • LinCA

      @chooselife

      Holy fucking shit! Please tell me that you are merely trying to yank our chains, and aren't really that moronically ignorant.

      Please pick up a high school biology book and educate yourself on the basics of human reproduction. It is only in your mind that there is any involvement of your imaginary friend.

      Even if science doesn't explain everything, religion explains nothing. Religion only assigns a cause. It does so without any support in evidence for that cause. You have to be mentally impaired to accept that as anything other than gross speculation.

      While I doubt science will ever be able to conclusively prove that your imaginary friend is nothing but imaginary, the notion of it is so ridiculous that it should be rejected without further consideration. Not until the religiots produce the first shred of evidence for their imaginary friend, should any rational person even need to consider the possibility it exists.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • chooselife

      @ LinCA,

      God Bless you..

      May 24, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  9. only those who follow the KING will enter Heaven!!!!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkoQHCXSK8&w=640&h=390]

    May 24, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  10. mark

    “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
    I have absolutely no respect for religion whatsoever, but that above quote helps me to respect the man, if not the position held by him.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  11. Topher

    Wow. So the Pope is now a heretic in his own religion. Nice.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Real Topher? Don't be as ignorant as they say you are son.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Topher

      How is what I've said here ignorant?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim

      getting some popcorn . . .

      May 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Topher

      Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim

      You have to share.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Nothing the pope said is heretical to the faith. What do you think he said that is?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Topher

      Topher

      “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

      I know the Catholics are works-righteous, but correct me if I'm wrong, you still must be a Christian. You can't reject God and do good works and get in.

      "But do good" ... The Bible says none of us are good.

      And don't Catholics hold that you must also participate in communion, baptism and confession?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Go for it

      Topher
      Being told you are ignorant by BD is not a real problem. Bill has said that about all his fellow posters. Bill has gone with the Vatican apologists interpretation of what Francis said not his actual words. Since you are to polite to call BD a pompous aszhole, I will for you, and BD STFU, you are the fool.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      OK, let me explain in English:

      "Do good" does not equal "Be good". In other words, though man is fallen, he is still capable of exercising his will to cooperate with God's grace. Get it? Neither is faith a requirement to perform good works. As such, the Holy Father is saying to Catholics and nonbelievers as well that we can all join in the work of creation. This is the part that reasonable agnostics are applauding, the recognition of non-believers as contributors to society.

      Secondly, redeemed does not equal saved. As the spokesman for the Vatican pointed out "knowledge of the Church necessitates becoming part of the church"

      Thirdly, Catholics are not saved by works. Whoever told you this lied to you. Catholics are saved by grace, through faith. We are obligated to partake of the sacraments and perform works or corporeal and spiritual charity, but our salvation is not contingent upon that.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Go for it. I don't mean ignorant as in stupid. I mean ignorant as in not informed. I repeatedly find myself in the situation as I do today of discussing tenets of Catholicism that only exist in some ones imagination or distorted understanding. It's remarkable the amount if (can't think of another word for it) ignorance there is about the Catholic faith. I'd much prefer that we be hated for what we are than what people call us.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Go for it

      Enough for me to know of the long ugly history of the faith, the recent money laundering, Marcial Maciel scandal, the cover up of crimes against children, Ratzinger deliberately lying to the laity, and the Bill Deacon types twisting and turning in the wind as it suits them. You are obviously not stupid Bill, but are definitely ignorant.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Topher

      Bill Deacon

      With all due respect ...

      ""Do good" does not equal "Be good"."

      But if you are not good, how can you do good? "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment." Isaiah 64:6. Essentially, since we are "unclean", so are our works. If Hitler came up to you and gave you a present, would you take it? I'd hope you'd reject it because it's from Hitler.

      "In other words, though man is fallen, he is still capable of exercising his will to cooperate with God's grace. Get it?"

      No, sorry. I'm not sure what you mean by "cooperate" with God's grace. If you are saying all can receive it, I agree.

      "Neither is faith a requirement to perform good works. As such, the Holy Father is saying to Catholics and nonbelievers as well that we can all join in the work of creation. This is the part that reasonable agnostics are applauding, the recognition of non-believers as contributors to society."

      On man's level, sure. But that doesn't really matter. God's standard is perfection.

      "Secondly, redeemed does not equal saved. As the spokesman for the Vatican pointed out "knowledge of the Church necessitates becoming part of the church"

      The transaction is not complete unless the one needing to be redeemed receives that gift.

      "Thirdly, Catholics are not saved by works. Whoever told you this lied to you"

      That's the stance of the protestants since the Reformation. Basically, Catholics believe "you do your best, Jesus does the rest."

      "Catholics are saved by grace, through faith"

      This is Biblical Christianity, not Catholicism. I hope, though, this is what you believe and that you are saved. Perhaps you go to a really good church.

      "We are obligated to partake of the sacraments and perform works or corporeal and spiritual charity, but our salvation is not contingent upon that."

      Again, as long as these things aren't required for your salvation. If they were, as held by most Catholics, that would be a work.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      At no time did pope Francis say anything like "Doing good will get anybody into heaven" When specifically asked for clarification, the Vatican provided that. The entire point of the remarks is that people who do good works can meet in that effort.

      The part which may be creating confusion for you is when the pope states that "Jesus died for the redemption of all mankind". Are you saying that is heretical?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Topher is probably going to lose this argument ('cause he never wins), but BillyD will get his first win. Frightening!!

      May 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Topher

      Bill Deacon

      "At no time did pope Francis say anything like "Doing good will get anybody into heaven" When specifically asked for clarification, the Vatican provided that. The entire point of the remarks is that people who do good works can meet in that effort."

      I know that's what they said, but I don't believe them. He specifically said atheists can go to heaven. Even if he misspoke, he should have recognized this right away and corrected it. I mean, who should know their Catholic theology better than the Pope? It seems like just PR excuses. It was a flub. And goes against the whole "infallibility" of the Pope thing.

      "The part which may be creating confusion for you is when the pope states that "Jesus died for the redemption of all mankind". Are you saying that is heretical?"

      No. What Jesus did is offered to everyone. But it's not applied to everyone. The Bible is clear. You must repent and trust to be saved.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Topher

      Bill

      Let me ask you this: Have you been born again?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Topher, if you believe there is no such thing as good works, then you are morally equivalent to the man who says there is no such thing as evil works. Are you telling me that building a hospital is equivalent to hacking a man to death in the streets?

      When you say "Basically Catholilcs believe,,,," you are reducing the entire substance of Catholic wisdom into a moronic bumper sticker. A bumper sticker which doesn't even accurately reflect that wisdom. It's an insult.

      Biblical Christianity? Try to wrap your head around this. From the time of Calvary until Martin Luther, Catholic monks, priests and bishops guarded, transcribed and provided the Bible. That's 1500 years of Biblical Christianity before Luther ever even read it.

      The sacraments and works which you seem to be willing to allow us are what we call the fullness of the faith. They are the parts you are missing out on. They are what combine faith with works to bring life.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      I am born again every time I attend mass.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Let me ask you this Topher, Who decides who gets to go to heaven?

      May 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Go for it

      Yes Bill there are evil works that you disregard when looking at the RCC, you only see the good stuff because you need that crutch to lean on. Stories keep coming out about the faith/church having to payout yet another settlement to its victims. How can you defend and wallow in the dirt with such filth or are you another Marcial Maciel?

      May 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Topher

      Bill Deacon

      "Topher, if you believe there is no such thing as good works, then you are morally equivalent to the man who says there is no such thing as evil works. Are you telling me that building a hospital is equivalent to hacking a man to death in the streets?"

      No. Clearly one is worse than the other. And building a hospital (something Catholics are better at than any other religion) is a good thing ... on man's level. But building that hospital gets you no points on Judgment Day. None.

      "When you say "Basically Catholilcs believe,,,," you are reducing the entire substance of Catholic wisdom into a moronic bumper sticker. A bumper sticker which doesn't even accurately reflect that wisdom. It's an insult."

      I apologize if I've insulted you. That wasn't my intention. I just think Catholics are wrong based on their teachings and thus you and I disagree. That's all. And I do think it's pretty accurate, based on history and its doctrines.

      "Biblical Christianity? Try to wrap your head around this. From the time of Calvary until Martin Luther, Catholic monks, priests and bishops guarded, transcribed and provided the Bible. That's 1500 years of Biblical Christianity before Luther ever even read it."

      The Catholic church wasn't around since Calvary. There wasn't even an actual Pope until ... the 500s? True there was a catholic church (small 'c'), but that just meant 'universal'.

      The sacraments and works which you seem to be willing to allow us are what we call the fullness of the faith. They are the parts you are missing out on. They are what combine faith with works to bring life.

      May 24, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      OK, I'm returning to my first remark. You are as dumb as they say you are. The Catholic Church was instiituted at the last supper, when Jesus created the apostolic succession that started with Simon Peter. The Acts of the Apostles are the first histories of the Church. The Pauline doctrines are the letters to and from various churches which were coalesced into the New Testament. While the word "catholic" meaning universal was first employed around 245 A.D. by a Bishop who later became a saint, the condition of "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" has existed since the evening of Jesus's last passover meal.

      I frankly cannot understand how any Christian who researches the faith can remain not a Catholic.

      May 24, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Topher

      Bill Deacon

      So what would happen should you not go to mass? Are you then back to being damned? You can only be born again once. And that's all you need to be.

      "Let me ask you this Topher, Who decides who gets to go to heaven?"

      Christ is the judge. But I suppose the person who decides is you, whether you are willing to humble yourself and repent and trust as the Bible says to do. But that's all you can do. And if you reject what Christ has done and don't repent, you will be found guilty and given what you deserve — Hell.

      Do you know the difference between infused and imputed righteousness?

      May 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Go for it

      Bill Deacon story from Victoria, Australia. A victims father confronted Archbishop Pell. his comment as follows.......
      "We experienced a sociopathic lack of empathy from him and that was typical of what we experienced from the church (RCC) and that has continued to this very day." The Australian, MAY 24, 2013, that is today Bill..
      Your church does not now or has ever practiced the teachings of your jesus christ, it has always been about wealth and power, the laity are just throw away pawns and suckers. The hypocrisy is astounding and you Bill prove that.

      May 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Topher

      Bill Deacon

      "OK, I'm returning to my first remark. You are as dumb as they say you are"

      So you resort to name-calling ... have very Christian of you. (That's sarcasm).

      "The Catholic Church was instiituted at the last supper, when Jesus created the apostolic succession that started with Simon Peter."

      No. I know the verse you use to support that and I think it's completely taken out of context. That aside, you have to do some serious gymnastics to even see some semblance of a Papacy before the sixth century. Before that time you had a Bishop who started gaining power simply due to location. Gregory the Great was the first to have any real political power.
      But even he had theological problems. He taught salvation comes through Baptism (even newborn babies). After Baptism, Christians would have to make up for their sins through "works of love" (uh-oh, works righteousness) ... I can go on and on.

      "I frankly cannot understand how any Christian who researches the faith can remain not a Catholic."

      While I was never an official Catholic, I did attend a Catholic church when I was in college. But I read about the reformation ... how far the Catholics got away from the teachings of Christ and thus rejected Catholicism. I can't see how you'd remain as.suming you actually know the doctrines of Catholicism.

      May 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • midwest rail

      " I know the verse you use to support that and I think it's completely taken out of context. That aside, you have to do some serious gymnastics ...."
      Oh, the irony...

      May 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Joey

      If there was a god, the bible would not be open to interpretation. Everyone would agree on the meaning of every part of it.

      May 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Jesus

      Now, now boys kiss and make up (no tongue Bill), you are both nice Christians, try and get along. Topher you are lucky, if you bad mouthed Bill a few centuries ago he would have sicced the inquisitors on you ass and you would be toast.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  12. ThereIsNoGod

    It's truly a sad thing that here in this age, here in 2013, that people still believe in gods. Are we still a bunch of cave-dwelling idiots?

    May 24, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • mark

      For a large group of the human race, sadly the answer is yes.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • chris

      if i believe in a god then i have faith,

      if you assert there is no god then you have ignorance.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Dan

      It's truly a sad thing when people overestimate their own intelligence.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • LinCA

      @chris

      You said, "if you assert there is no god then you have ignorance."
      Ignorance of what? What knowledge is out there that would fix this ignorance, if only we learned of it? Care to share? Care to relieve us of our ignorance?

      I see no difference between the Tooth Fairy and any god, because, as far as I know, the evidence for each is exactly the same. You seem to claim to have access to something that would indicate there is a difference. Please enlighten us.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • STLBroker

      It is truly sad that many of us reject the incredibly generous and loving gift of salvation.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Shay

      Yes, you are a cave-dwelling idiot!

      May 24, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Madtown

      reject the incredibly generous and loving gift of salvation
      -----
      "I haven't rejected anything. I've never heard of it, and have no idea what you're talking about."

      – yours,
      primitive tribal guy

      May 24, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • ThereIsNoGod

      @Shay

      So I don't believe in some fairy tale god and a book of fables written by men decades after the alleged occurrences and I'm and idiot cave dweller? Wow... sure got some of that christard intelligence there, don't ya?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Dan B

      I can't believe that anyone actually believes in that nonsense. I think they just want to believe.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  13. Jeff

    I love how the pope can just make stuff up and speak for god's intent. Doesn't really matter anyway, because there is no god.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • snowboarder

      it seems everyone else does, so why not?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • sharoom

      He's the pope. God speaks directly to him supposedly.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Shay

      Jeff, you will find out one day there is a God! I've read HELL IS HOT, HOT, HOT!!!! Enjoy!

      May 24, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • sharoom

      Shay, doesn't that kind of smugness about our damnation also warrant a position in hell?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  14. TheSaint

    Hey guys, why don't you just forget for a moment about God, religion, Catholicism, heaven, Jesus whatever and just think of what this man (the Pope) really said: "do good". That's hard for you, right? Much easier to blame or insult than do good, right? Btw, I am an atheist.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  15. William Demuth

    Hell for the Pope?

    Sadly no, but if ever a man deserved it, it would be he.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven – "We all deserve it kid."

      May 24, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Topher

      "He should have armed himself."

      May 24, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • STLBroker

      We ALL deserve Hell. Thank you Jesus for providing a way to be saved!!!

      May 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      None of us can imagine a more evil being than one who could eliminate a place of eternal torment yet does not. God is the most evil character ever imagined.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohaim

      damn, what – am I at a Multiplex? Hmm. It's a good thing here I can monitor both "movies". Something tells me Lewis Black is going to pop up in these movies.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      HAHA the only thing is Cpt is that YOU are the one who is capable of eliminating hell. So, why don't you?

      May 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  16. the AnViL™

    in regards to the rcc:

    the vatican should be razed, its adherents scattered, and the entirety of its clergy burned on great pyres of the roman catholic cannon.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      ribbit ribbit, (sound of frogs not jumping)

      May 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  17. AtheistSteve

    Ridiculous claims merit ridicule. It's just that simple. And Christians in particular take the cake.

    !st there is the fall of man. Adam and Eve tossed out of Eden. A story even Jews don't believe depict a literal event in history and it's THEIR book. But Christain swallow this tale wholecloth and mostly because they must. It sets the stage for later outrageous stuff in their holy book. No fall means no need for a redeemer.

    2nd is the (and I'm skipping over a whole pile of BS here) the virgin birth of their "savior". Really? That makes sense to you? And it was apparerntly predicted too...600 years earlier. Impregnated by the holy spirit. Not only that but Marys other half Joseph is used to describe the lineage of Jesus in a tortuously long list (well 2 different lists actually) going all the way back to David. But wait ...Joseph isn't the biological father so the entire thing is meaningless. Jesus' true lineage is one step...God...end of list. I don't know about y'all but my BS detector has been screaming at me non-stop throughout all of this.

    3rd Everything we know about Jesus' life comes from just 4 books. Those (attributed) to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Written by unknown authors up to 70yrs after Jesus died. At a time in history where the average life expectancy was 45, and illiteracy was the norm, these were not likely eyewitness accounts. In fact without those 4 books we wouldn't even know about the other 8 apostles. So we are told stories about Jesus' birth, a bit when he was around 12 and the rest when he was in his 30s. But just ignore the gaps. Preaching his heretical Jewish ministry the biblical words of Jesus are taken as verbatum literal truth as if he wrote them himself. We have no idea what he actually said. Only what other people claim he said. People with an agenda. To promote the new religion. Top all of that off with claims of healing the sick, feeding the hungry and various other physics and reality defying acts of magic and the veracity of all of this is stretched beyond belief. My BS meter is shaking itself to pieces.

    4th And this is the kicker. The guy gets killed. Crucified for pissing off the Roman emperor. No biggie..lots of people got strung up that way. Punishment of the day as it were. But wait...3 days later Jesus comes back to life. Golly...and witnessed by one...no... wait..a few...no...sorry many (the actual number isn't important I guess) of his followers. Outstanding but keep in mind what I said earlier about these books not being eyewitness accounts. But still...how amazing is that? And even outside the Bible this miraculous event is recorded...no...wait...it's not. Ok my BS meter just exploded.

    One after the other, after the other of ridiculous, extraordinary, impossible claims. All of them entirely essential to keep the story intact. All without a single solitary shred of hard evidence. And you wonder why people like me don't take what you say seriously? Why should we?

    May 24, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Jeff

      You're supposed to accept this on faith, not logic. Even though you don't apply this concept of blind faith to any other part of your life.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • snowboarder

      that pretty well sums it up. rather absurd when you think about it objectively.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • OwMySkull

      You need a woman or a hobby PRONTO !!!

      May 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • CP in FL

      Thank you. I am not sure how anyone can believe that crap. If people would not brainwash their children into believing that nonsense maybe we could advance as a civilization.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      "You need a woman or a hobby PRONTO !!!"

      AtheistSteve: Wow babe, I guess this person is new to these blogs or they'd already know that I am your wife and as for hobbies, please no more.

      May 24, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  18. palintwit

    With any luck that tornado took out a few Chick-fil-A's. And maybe a few teabaggers.

    May 24, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  19. smartaz

    This is the Oprah Pope. You get a heaven. You get a heaven. And you get a heaven.

    May 24, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • John

      That made me laugh out loud!

      May 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  20. Answer

    What a joke.

    We, atheists, have no need to join this circus of delusion. It's just another fvcking ploy to play friendly.

    Just when will you christards ever stop in taking your delusions too far?

    May 24, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Vic

      😐
      🙄
      😦

      May 24, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      Don't you HATE it when a CATHOLIC, let alone Christian says something positive to you! Boy it starts hissy fits by the dozen for atheists!!!!!
      Relax – atheists and others CAN get to heaven just as the Holy Father said because God's MERCY is infinite, BUT – B UT -BUT- YOU have to accept God's love, and love Him in return first. And you have to Trust in His mercy. Peace ,friend.

      May 24, 2013 at 11:03 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.