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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. Bigwhitt

    Slippery slope...we can't create a alternate routes to redemption, identify Jesus as the origin of it, and then say its ok. Nope. True...we can't get to heaven w/o Christ, but there aren't (accoring to scriture) mutiple routes. Accoring to Christ, the road leading to "life" is narrow (Matthew 7:13-14). And what does Rev. John Zuhlsdorf mean when he says "whatever graces are offered to atheists (such that they may be saved) are from Christ...? There is only one grace Christ offers, and it is acessed through faith in his death on the cross, not good works (Eph 2:8). Which brings up another issue. The word Grace it self (Charis) implies a freely given gift, not an earned reward, so how then can someone, through good works, earn something that only comes freely?

    To me, this is more about bending the truth of the Gospel to make it more appealing and comfortable for others, rather than preaching it how it is and letting people decide for themself. If you don't believe, fine, but I'm not bending the truth to make believing conveient. He died on the cross for sin...have faith in that and you shall be saved. PERIOD. 🙂

    May 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • @chad

      Why not? Christians have been redefining the bible since the very beginning of it all, so why can't it continue?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Madtown

      Accoring to Christ, the road leading to "life" is narrow
      ------
      So God doesn't treat us all equally then? We're not all equal in God's eyes?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Stauros

      He didn't even die on a cross, he died on a tree or a stake you moron.

      The word translated into "Cross" in English is the greek word "Stauros". The word stauros comes from the verb ἵστημι (histēmi: "straighten up", "stand"), which in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *stā-, *stha, stao, "stem", "shoot" (the same root from which come the German Stern, or Stamm, the English "stand"). The Romans would not have wasted any additional time or wood making crossed beams to hang criminals on, they took a pole and nailed the wrists and feet into a single "stauros" or stem on which the criminals were "straightened up".

      May 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  2. Apple Bush

    I know I usually joke around a lot but in all seriousness, writing, philosophy, science, brilliance have evolved so much since the Bible that it is completely illogical when comparing it to 18th, 19th and 20th century thinkers and writers. Poets. Musicians, artists and philosophers that our collective attention is stimulated by these modern day gurus. The Bible was left in the dust. Naturally. It is old and outdated. It is all so simple. Embrace the new understanding of life and grow. And keep your mind open and free. That is what it is to by human. Freedom and growth and intelligence. It is fair to turn your back on the ignorant religious people. They are necessarily being phased out.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • .

      bull sh it

      May 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      you've been joking?!?!

      May 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @D-dog

      I like to joke around the way Chauncy likes to garden and watch.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Everyone is free to choose whom they will help and whom they will turn their backs on. I think we can help religious people.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      *dot*

      I know you are a drive by, but do you care to tell me what you think is bullshit? I think my post is accurate.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  3. Angel Moronic

    The pope is amnestying non-belivers - a la Republican's turn on immigration reform for undocs. - to get votes

    May 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      hypocrite's all!!!

      May 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
  4. PDH

    The only way atheists go to heaven is if they stop being atheists before they died, acccepting Jesus as their Savior

    May 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Angel Moronic

      If heaven is full of hateful bigots, thanks but no thanks.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      That's just what Jeffrey Dahmer did!
      I'm so glad he found a clergyman to administer baptism before he died.
      It is a great comfort knowing that all his sins were washed away the day he humbly accepted Chris as his savior, ensuring his passage into Heaven.
      The only thing a pedophilic cannibal has to do to get into Heaven is to feel sorry about eating and ra/ping those kids enough to undergo a ritual drowning.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • .

      since atheists won't be in heaven it stands to reason there will be no hateful bigots there

      May 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Rick

      And that is key point...thank you

      May 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • derp

      So that I have this straight....

      The super powerful sky wizard made me.

      He made me a sinner.

      He knew I'd be a sinner before I was born.

      He then expects me to NOT be a sinner.

      But it's ok if I actually am a sinner because he killed his kid to make my sins somehow not sins.

      If accept his dead son as my sin remover, I'm good.

      And you actually believe this?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  5. Happy Atheist

    What I am sensing the most coming from the Christians here is that they are besides themselves with anger at the idea of having put all this work into being "good Christians" fo rso long and then the Pope just say's "Well ateists can come too".

    I would like any Christians who feel this way to please read Luke 15:11-31

    The end of the parable:
    "27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ 28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ 31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

    I am an atheist, but I know the bible well and have read it cover to cover many times. Very few Christians that I have seen here on these boards would I call actual "followers of Christ" as they ignore his council daily.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Read think ask

      Read the parable, the wayward son came back repenting. Did you miss the repentance part?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Topher

      Happy Atheist

      "What I am sensing the most coming from the Christians here is that they are besides themselves with anger at the idea of having put all this work into being "good Christians" fo rso long and then the Pope just say's "Well ateists can come too"."

      First, IF that is what the Pope is saying, then he's wrong and once again is teaching something anti-Biblical. Second, I don't know too many Christians who would say they are good. The Bible says there are none who are good, "no, not one."

      And I think I'm missing your point on the Prodigal Son verses. Care to elaborate?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Happy Atheist: you've missed the point of Christianity. it's not about being a 'good' Christian.

      the message of the parable you reference is case & point. the parable is not just about the 'bad' son who ran away. but if you read carefully (Lk.15:1-2), Jesus is addressing the hypocritical religious right – and pointing out that their so-called 'goodness' is really the biggest barrier between them & God. As Jesus said elsewhere: "the tax collectors & prosti.tutes are getting in before you."

      the parable here clearly shows: a man had two sons, and BOTH of them were alienated from their father (both the 'good' & 'bad' son). one ran from his dad by disobeying (rebelling & leaving), the other ran by obeying (look at the speech he gives his dad in the field). they both basically say: "dad, i wish you were dead. i just want your stuff so i can really live w/o you." point being: they both think the party is being without their dad & just having his stuff.

      that's the message of Christianity. there is no 'goodness' without a relationship with the Father. even the reason you'd be 'good' in the first place is really a way of pushing God away. as Flannery O'Connor said about Haz Moates in Wiseblood: "there was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sinning."

      when being 'good' is a way to push God away, it's not really good – by definition – whether atheist or religious right.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • derp

      Ok topher,

      So that I have this straight....

      The super powerful sky wizard made me.

      He made me a sinner.

      He knew I'd be a sinner before I was born.

      He then expects me to NOT be a sinner.

      But it's ok if I actually am a sinner because he killed his kid to make my sins somehow not sins.

      If accept his dead son as my sin remover, I'm good.

      And you actually believe this?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Indeed, Russ. Christians should think of themselves as salvage, not little treasures God has discovered.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Happy Atheist

      Thank you all for proving my point. You all have your own take on what was meant and it always leaves you in the right, right? None of you are Christians, you are just bad Jesus impersonators doing your best rendition of "Jail house Rock" but I understand why, he has become a larger than life figure and everyone wants to be a little fameous.

      I like you all and hope you find peace and happiness in your lives like I did.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      not sure he did come back repenting.
      '17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!
      18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
      19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’

      That suggests more to me a form of calculation to get food. .....hey, the servants get food so if i go back and say make me a servant then i will get food. No repentance involved.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Topher

      derp

      "The super powerful sky wizard made me." If you mean the God of the Bible, yes.

      "He made me a sinner." No.

      "He knew I'd be a sinner before I was born." Yes.

      "He then expects me to NOT be a sinner." No.

      "But it's ok if I actually am a sinner because he killed his kid to make my sins somehow not sins." Yes and No. Jesus was not "His kid." He is the second part of the Trinity. But yes, because of what Christ did, you can be seen as clean on Judgment Day and will be free to go. He paid your fine in His blood.

      "If accept his dead son as my sin remover, I'm good." No. You must repent (not just say you are sorry for sinning, but also turn from those sins) and trust Him to have not only paid for your sins but also to have defeated death, then you'll be forgiven.

      "And you actually believe this?" The Biblical stance as I've pointed out, yes.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Russ

      @ cedar rapids: did you notice that the father doesn't wait to hear his speech? the father's love comes BEFORE any such maneuvering / angling / leveraging. the father's love is not contingent on obedience. it PRECEDES it.

      that's the difference between Christianity and every other major religion:
      religion: obey & then you'll get love/favor/heaven/nirvana/etc.
      Christian: you are *already* loved, and obedience flows out of living in that love (not trying to earn it)

      May 24, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Happy Atheist: you are projecting yourself onto everyone else.
      Jesus is not a "whatever you want him to be" posable figure.
      the whole point of scholarship is to go to the source.
      even your analogy points to that: there was an actual Elvis.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Barry

      Russ, I call BS on your post. That "loving" still comes alongside the threat of torture forever in the end if you happen to not make your BOMITS pleased by worshipping his fat lazy ass. Carrot and stick, and we know where both go.

      Stuff your foolish god stories. Time for mankind to move ahead.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • mary

      Pretty much all of Russ's posts are BS.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Barry: don't "call" BS – check the source.

      Ever kept reading after John 3:16? here's v.17-18:
      "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."

      point being: God doesn't have to condemn us when we already stand condemned. We've done this to ourselves. It's not a fear-based thing, it's (like the parable says) "coming to our senses" – becoming aware of what we've done to ourselves. it's like a lamp unplugging itself from its power source – such an action would be self-condemning. left to itself, it is condemned by its own actions.

      Love intervenes against what we have done to ourselves.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Russ @ cedar rapids: did you notice that the father doesn't wait to hear his speech? the father's love comes BEFORE any such maneuvering / angling / leveraging. the father's love is not contingent on obedience. it PRECEDES it.'

      but that wasnt the claim. the claim specifcially was one of repentance by the son, which I do not believe it was.

      'that's the difference between Christianity and every other major religion:
      religion: obey & then you'll get love/favor/heaven/nirvana/etc.
      Christian: you are *already* loved, and obedience flows out of living in that love (not trying to earn it)'

      rubbish, christianity starts off claiming we are all born sinners and need to redeem that sin. Its starts off from the premise that we are all bad people just by being born.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Once Jesus has intervened for you, and you are acceptable to God, it would seem that you will still be pretty much what you were before all that took place. Not exactly housebroken. Even if you are seen as perfect you are not. Is there a solution? Can you imagine yourself as perfect, Russ?

      May 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Russ

      @ cedar rapids: you're only hearing HALF of what the cross says...
      1) we are worse off than we want to admit (he had to die)
      2) we are more loved than we ever dared hope (he was willing to die for us)

      Love does precede our repentance. Read the parable carefully: the son comes to the father asking for his inheritance – basically saying "dad, i wish you were dead." we know historically that the average Jewish father (a familial, traditional society) would have responded by promptly striking his son & publicly disowning him (no inheritance). the stunning tw.ist in Jesus' parable BEGINS with a father who is prodigal (literally: extrava.gant) with his own wealth / love. none of Jesus' hearers would have expected that response from the father. it's a love that is CONTRARY to our condition / att.itude toward him.

      again: Jesus loves his enemies and makes them into family. there is no other major religion that makes this sort of claim. it's why we Christians are called to love our enemies – because we were once his enemies, too. and if God can do that with pu.n.ks like us...

      May 24, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Russ

      @ TTTOO: you are drawing out the distinction between the trade Jesus made (justification) and our ongoing change into his likeness / being made holy (sanctification).

      justification is like Jesus trading clothes with me (if my clothes were what my life deserved) and taking my place.
      sanctification is God's ongoing work in Christians to kill off sin and set us more & more free to life (mortification & vivification). Just because I'm wearing his 'perfect' clothes doesn't mean I'm perfect. That's the ongoing change God is working (2 Cor.3:18; Php.2:12-13; etc.)

      May 24, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Russ @ cedar rapids: you're only hearing HALF of what the cross says...
      1) we are worse off than we want to admit (he had to die)
      2) we are more loved than we ever dared hope (he was willing to die for us)'

      I am saying the emperor is wearing no clothes. It means nothing. God didnt sacrifice anything if jesus is actually divine. He lost nothing at all......'here is a system i created, here is part of me coming down, now dying....ta da, you see how much I care? to 'sacrifice' part of me to save you from me?' What was lost or sacrificed? absolutely nothing.
      'Dying for our sins' means nothing as well. Its a silly phrase, you might as well say 'KFC – finger licking good' for all the weight it carries in actually meaning anything.

      At the end of the day you do not get to claim 'love' when the threat of eternal damnation lies over you if you don't return that 'love'. That is not unconditional, not even close.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Russ

      @ cedar rapids: it doesn't sound like you're going all the way into the philosophical and theological implications. in short, you're interpreting Christianity through a semi-deistic lens.

      consider the Trinity. you don't have to agree with it to get this much: God is eternal, 3 persons in 1. There is eternal fellowship within the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. There is NOTHING more valuable, personal, intimate, unique, etc. And yet what Jesus sacrifices on the cross is that very thing. The fellowship of unending favor toward one another is broken.

      again, that's something – from a theological & philosophical understanding – that is MUCH more valuable than us... and yet God is applying it TO us. He pays a cost with something infinitely more valuable than us. it's not just a charade of superman taking a bullet (wink, wink). No, he actually trades with us – losing the favor of the Father so that we could have what we don't deserve. Everything else is important, but that is the centerpiece of what is so horrible about the cross. Jesus cries out – no "my Father!" (as he does so many other times in prayer), but "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

      you don't have to agree to understand Christianity – but if you understand, you will see your critique fails to accurately portray Christianity.

      May 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Russ

      *not "my Father" [missed the t somehow]

      May 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'He pays a cost with something infinitely more valuable than us. it's not just a charade of superman taking a bullet (wink, wink). '

      sorry but that is exactly what it is. its hardly a sacrifice when 3 days later hes up and around again and going 'home'

      May 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Russ,

      The trinity is one of the most ridiculous things about xtianity. If you believe in the trinity you think that god sacrificed himself to himself in order to create a loophole for a system for which he himself created.

      That is just fvcking stupid.

      May 24, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Thats right CR. Jesus had a bad weekend for your sins.

      May 24, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      That's interesting, Russ. "May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" is often heard, and I think it's basically from Philippians 1:6. Do you think we are perfectible then? What is perfection like in a human being?

      May 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Russ

      @ TTTOO: what is perfection like for a human? Christ.
      is it possible this side of heaven for sinners like us? no... but we will be perfected.

      "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (I Jn.3:2) it's the "already, not yet" of the Kingdom. We are already saved, but not yet perfected.

      for a great picture of this, I like CS Lewis' "Great Divorce."

      May 24, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Russ

      @ CR: i'm trying to help you understand why your criticism fails. you don't even have to agree with me to understand that the most compelling argument you can make is when you point out a logical flaw WITHIN someone else's system of belief. but that requires accurately understanding & describing it.

      i'm saying to you: "biblical Christianity says X." you say "no, it's Y." that's not a logical point of objection. it's simply a refusal to hear.

      again, you don't have to agree to understand why – despite Honey Badger's repeated "bad weekend" sentiment – such a portrayal of Christianity fails to understand it on its most basic terms.

      a weak analogy: considering how profoundly devastating individual sentences of parents to their kids are, a mere 5 seconds can be life altering. How much more from the only opinion that should ever ultimately matter?

      May 24, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Honey Badger: see what I wrote to CR, but we've had this conversation before. You seem to prefer repeating the same sentiment to actually honing your argument by engaging what Christians actually believe.

      God was not a slave to his own system, nor did he create a loophole. Rather than take such a purposefully cynical view – why not consider the opposite? despite our directly warranted death, he offers something else – he even PLANS for it. WHY? what does that tell you about his *character*? you seem to miss the centerpiece of any faith – who is this God & why does he do what he does?

      within the Christian self-understanding, we did this to ourselves. we rightly deserve death – and yet he offers something else. he made us with a freedom that we misused – and instead of simply letting justice run its course, he intervenes – WITHOUT compromising justice. NOT as if justice was some greater concept to which he answers, but rather because he DEFINES both justice & mercy. how could two seemingly contradictory notions exist together? it's that question that leads you down the path to seeing this God's self-revelation... and why Christians joyfully worship him.

      May 24, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  6. richarddetrich

    IF the Pope is to be the authoritative voice of the Catholic Church, infallible, speaking from the Seat of Peter, how is it that the Vatican can be so quick to contradict what the Pope has to say? Problem here somewhere!

    May 24, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Your problem is multifaceted. A. The pope did not speak ex cathedra, therefore infallibility is not invoked. B. He is not in conflict with the catechism nor the Vatican spokesman.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • derp

      "Your problem is multifaceted. A. The pope did not speak ex cathedra, therefore infallibility is not invoked. B. He is not in conflict with the catechism nor the Vatican spokesman"

      Absolutely hilarious.

      What, is there a special pointy hat and popestick he has to be carrying for what he says to really count?

      Does he have his fingers crossed behind his back?

      Does he have a special Harry Potter infallibility cloak?

      This gets funnier by the second.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      derp, if the pope says, "I think it is raining on a sunny day, obviously has not spoken from the chair of Peter and can be mistaken."

      If he states Ex Cathedra, in accord with the Bishops that "Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God", He has spoken with papal infallibility. Some historian will have the correct number of times but I believe there are only seven cases infallibility being invoked.

      It's sort of like if the President said " I'll be in Philadelphia." when he meant Pittsburg, he would be incorrect but if he said "The second amendment protects the right to bear arms." he would be constiitutionally correct.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  7. Sam

    To any of us atheists, humanists, and non-theists/skeptics...why are we jumping for joy and/or hoping that this pope believes salvation is attainable for us 'non-believers' if we DON'T BELIEVE ANYWAY? Seems like we're more like foxhole atheists or 'bedtime believers' cos we are openly abrasive towards religion and spirituality, but in the privacy of our homes and thoughts, we're secretly hoping God exists and that we'll somehow be saved, that we hope there is a heaven and we'll go to it. If you are going to not believe, then do it (or don't do it, rather). If you are going to fence sit, call yourself what you really are...an irreligious agnostic.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'why are we jumping for joy and/or hoping that this pope believes salvation is attainable for us 'non-believers' if we DON'T BELIEVE ANYWAY? '

      I dont think we are, i think we are just appreciating the uproar the pope has created by his statement.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Sam

      great! so we're not just cowardly and wishy-washy in our beliefs, we're mischievous contrarian troublemakers?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • derp

      We are not fence sitters or irreligious agnostics.

      We are just having a laughathon at the stupid pope who just insinuated that we are going to heaven right along with the religiots.

      So the whole "believe in jeebus as your saviour" crap is just that.

      I don't believe in heaven.

      But it's nice to be able to pull a reverse pascal's wager on all the religious dunces who have been pulling that stupid nonsense for years.

      "I'd rather be wrong about believeing in god, than wrong about not believing in god" has all of the sudden turned into, "who gives a sh1t, were all going to heaven anyway".

      Suck it christards!

      Bwahahahaha!

      May 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • derp

      "we're mischievous contrarian troublemakers?"

      It does have a nice ring to it.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Sam

      Derp, I as well as others should do ourselves a service and distance ourselves from simpletons like yourself.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • derp

      "Derp, I as well as others should do ourselves a service and distance ourselves from simpletons like yourself"

      Thank you.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Sam

      You are welcome. I don't like associating with hate-mongering, pompous fools.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • derp

      "You are welcome. I don't like associating with hate-mongering, pompous fools"

      Hate mongering? No

      Pompous? Absolutely

      They have earned it.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'Sam – great! so we're not just cowardly and wishy-washy in our beliefs, we're mischievous contrarian troublemakers?'

      you do like your labels dont you?
      no, i would say after so long of having christians point their fingers and declaring us hell bound and evil for being atheists, we can appreciate it when the pope declares those people wrong.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Sam

      Cedar, seems like we've become the lonesome, cast off kid on the playground finally picked for dodgeball. To me, reading the words of the Pope and Vatican, and being familiar with this type of language, it doesn't seem like anyone is accepting anybody, nobody who was once looked down upon is now redeemed, and atheists/etc are showing their true wimpy colours, nestling up to the Pope cos he's apparently finally accepting us. Kinda pathetic.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  8. Dyslexic doG

    With over 20% of Americans now identifying as religiously unaffiliated and MANY of the people who do identify themselves as Christians are only saying that to stay part of "the club" and to not be ostracized by their Christian friends, the numbers of the deluded are dwindling.

    In this century of science, the bronze age voodoo of Christianity is on its way out.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Dyslexic Dog:
      roughly 20% of the population of each of the 5 main continents identifies as Christian. no other religion (or any other human movement?) can claim that sort of cultural transcendence.

      Asia & Africa have both experienced *exponential* growth (far outpacing population growth) in the last century. China went from roughly 10 million Christians in 1949 when Mao took over to 100s of millions now. According to Yale scholar Lamin Sanneh, African went from roughly 10 million Christians in 1900 to over 380 million in 2003. That's 7-10x the population growth.

      NOTE: many such 'enlightened' scholars said the same thing you are claiming now... in 1900.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Science

      Hey Russ

      Better than Comedy GOLD................it is THE PEARLY GATES !.............what a JOKE !

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/23/heaven-for-atheists-pope-sparks-debate/comment-page-18/#respond

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/

      Discovery Channel Mega Beasts – Great American Predator

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UHQZVQvBkU&w=640&h=390]

      https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/5XRFKX8N

      May 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Science: as I've told you repeatedly, I'm not a young earth creationist. and yet you continue to post non-sequitor responses. you're making the famous Chewbacca defense...

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clKi92j6eLE&w=640&h=390]

      May 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Science

      The hike to Grandmas house trough the woods. do you have any RUSS morals that is ?

      Do you have any..............faith/chad?........take a hike in the woods chad you might learn something !

      Where do morals come from?.....................NOT THE BIBLE>

      By Kelly Murray, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/where-do-morals-come-from/#comments

      Hey faith..................the peach........... did you learn or hear from that Discovery show about the LAND BRIDGE ?

      How many years ago did we cross into North America ?.................faith chadie and Good news..........not

      Free learning videos go viral

      By Salman Khan, Special to CNN

      http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/07/24/khan.video.learning/index.html

      http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector

      The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

      HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

      Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

      May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152638.htm

      Evolution wins............No red devil either !

      Evolving Genes Lead to Evolving Genes: Selection in European Populations of Genes Regulated by FOXP2

      Apr. 18, 2013 — Researchers have designed a method that can universally test for evolutionary adaption, or positive (Darwinian) selection, in any chosen set of genes, using re-sequencing data such as that generated by the 1000 Genomes Project. The method identifies gene sets that show evidence for positive selection in comparison with matched controls, and thus highlights genes for further functional studies.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418124905.htm

      Oldest of the old.............the RCC ...........BedVrooooom.............and the red devil................not funny !

      Science books........videos.............trumps the 666.................beast.................or red horn-y thingy....does it

      NOT ........peachy ?.............but below IS..............please help .........thank you.

      A project of DC Entertainment to support Save the Children, Mercy Corps and IRC

      http://www.wecanbeheroes.org/

      The Greatest Action Movie Ever (G.A.M.E.)

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUuHV3cEzZ8&w=640&h=390]

      Again Chadie................SPLAT = E mc2...............(U-Pb)...........dating process for link below

      http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00461/uraninite.htm

      And a little carbon – 14 from chondrites..............and water =

      WHAM-O........horn-y planet and life.

      Mom and Dad............did it faith !

      http://www.discovertheforest.org/...............To Grandmas house we go

      Hey Vic

      Do a simple search on Prof. Higgs.

      It is what creates the mass for our asses !

      May 23, 2013 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |

      Jeff

      That's not occam's razor. Occam's razor is that the hypothesis WITH THE FEWEST ASSUMPTIONS is the MOST LIKELY.

      Seeing as you are assuming an all powerful, all present, all knowing deity with no origin and no supporting, observable and repeatable evidence, creation through God is no where near the most likely.

      May 23, 2013 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |

      ME II

      @Vic,
      The ICR is obviously biased and not scientific.

      "Principles of Scientific Creationism

      The physical universe of space, time, matter, and energy has not always existed, but was supernaturally created by a transcendent personal Creator who alone has existed from eternity."
      "The first human beings did not evolve from an animal ancestry, but were specially created in fully human form from the start."

      "The Bible, ... is ... infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological."
      (http://www.icr.org/tenets/)

      May 23, 2013 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |

      Red Rover............something NEW............you asked !

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEowVBEQl88&w=640&h=390]

      https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/XW3H99PB

      May 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Science

      This works better Cap'y you to Russ

      http://www.ted.com/talks

      May 24, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  9. Where is your God now?

    You are at a German “sparkle party”. You are wearing your party pants. You are ready to dancy dance. It is a hard-core German sparkle party and you are wearing your rubber boots. The music is pulsating and it feels good to dance. You notice a familiar face standing at the bar. You dance over to her as fancy as you please in your polished rubber boots. You bend low to smell her perfume and say hello. It is your father.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  10. Montrose

    The pope is an anti-christ. he is anti-word, anti-Bible therefore an antichrist. Everything the pope says is contrary to scripture.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • nope.

      @Montrose
      nope.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • derp

      Look, god changed his name to montrose.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  11. Pope Jonathan Price

    I know most of you do not know me, but as my IMDB pics will show, I am the new Pope!

    May 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  12. Dan B

    Oh good, so I don't need to do all of that praying, paying, and believing. That's a real time saver.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • .

      infailible my ass

      May 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Angel Moronic

      Seriously, all gain but no pain. How un-catholic of you 😉

      May 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Topher

      This is what happens when you follow fallible man over God.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
  13. Dan B

    Let's study "The Cat in the Hat" next.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • sam

      Starting with credenzas!

      May 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  14. Demigod Vadik, CA

    So if you can get into heaven without being a Christian, why be one???!!!

    May 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Angel Moronic

      The catholic church used to ( and most likely still is ) the Great toll booth on the way to Heaven !

      May 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  15. jheron

    Even before these remarks, I liked this new Pope. I am an Atheist. I see this man as a good man trying to do good things for people. We may disagree on our belief in a God, but I can appreciate and respect what he has done for other people and how he conducts himself. I am thankful that he recognizes that people of other faiths and non faiths can be good people too.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Demigod Vadik, CA

      Its a distraction...

      ...this Pope protected South American priest child molesters....

      ...but religious people don't have a sole claim on stupidity...

      ...an atheist wonders in that realm once in a while...

      May 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  16. lionlylamb

    It is biblically written that, "The kingdom (domains) of the Godly is lain within (inside) us all". We, as all celestial life manifestations are all formations of God's kingdom domains. We are Gods' living buildings made in the likeness of God's generations ever living in abundances deeply inside all mannerisms of celestially based Life augmentations. My belief in Godly kingdom domains being the internal dominions of spatial relationships does not go against the Biblical Scriptures but magnifies them! Mankind has become blinded by its scientific ordainments of sanctimonious literature excluding the rationalisms of a species we call upon as being Gods when such godly beings are as mortal as the next species.

    Genesis 6:3 And the LORD said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh”.

    The "Celled-in Time Continuums" are vortices of inner toward outer spatial relationships whose relativities coagulate and congeal in spasms of physiological longevity. Our bodies are a singular cosmic universe of atomized cosmologies within cellular relationships of passionate bimolecular magnetisms!

    Any whose Christian religion cannot lay claims that the kingdom domains of God reside upon our bodies' insides isn't really of any worthiness to be followed! Likewise, any science that cares not to fathoming the very insides of atomized relativities being the very first cosmos of spatial relationships isn't worthy of scientific concernments. Even our sciences' astronomies can say that the outer dimensions of spatial relations are very similar to the inner dimensioned but Science stands aloof and afar off from such Truth! Go Figure!

    Gods of the Inner Worlds in Atomic Proportions,
    Reaching ever Outwards wanting solutions,
    Atomized Beings We All Are In Celled Manifestations,
    Creations of God’s Kingdom Domains are All of Celestial-Life Propagations,
    Eternally Inward,- Life Marches On In Mortal Congregations.

    Panic drives the emotionally driven and stress hinders those spiritually blinded on both sides of the fences. Let go and let God's unknowable wisdom be one's spirited guide: provided one can see the clarities of dumbfounded vainness tripping ever upon one’s own mindedness shadow of doubtfulness. A soberly righteous man might not ever have imbibed of the drunkenness but a drunken man knows well the 12 drinks drank in drunken revelries of their long owned 10 fallacies of dirtied emotionalisms.

    Envisioning outwardly past the great beyond boundaries of yet unfathomed celestial perceptivities lays God's Domain. Inside all issuances of Life's Celestially Governed and upon the Atomized Chasms of Bimolecular Physics lays all of God's Children being but inwardly dwelt sons and daughters of all inner-cosmologic atomic dwelling spaces. We are all but atomized buildings of celestially woven inter-cellular cosmologies within triangulated miniaturizations of inner-spatial relationships of which all celestial cosmologies are attempting to replicate.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Christian GRACE

      Generally ignorant
      Rationally deficient
      Acidic ideology
      Confused members
      Elitist bigots

      May 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Dan B

      You can't use fiction as evidence.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @lionlylamb

      You speak so confidently! How do you know all this? Is it from the Bible ... because vast sections of that have been discredited and are acknowledged even by Christians as NOT the word of God but the word of man.

      Is it from what your priest/pastor/other told you? If so, how do they know?
      Is it from what your parents told you? If so, how do they know?
      Is it from voices in your head? Your imagination?

      Is there any proof for any of what you say or are you just mindlessly reciting that which has been drummed into your head since childhood?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      well that was a load of nonsense ultimately declaring nothing.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Dyslexic doG,

      I have spent much thought in contemplating the very plausible possibilities of there being God and Godly Families that do live within and upon the insides of any and even all celestial Life augmentations. The KJVB has shown to my mindedness ways that God is as mortal as we are. The verse, Genesis 6:3 states; And the LORD said, "My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also [is] flesh" and in truthfulness tells to us that the Gods are as mortal as we are.

      Luke 17:21 declares; "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you". The 'only ways' in which there can be a kingdom domain of Godliness being within or inside us is by a spatial dimensioning of atomic relationships wherein or inside and upon the atomic cosmos do the Godly of God roam and do live. 1 Corinthians 3:9 tells us that we not only labor along with the godly but we are all husbanded by the Godly and we are all Godly buildings.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  17. Angel Moronic

    Somewhere it is written : It is easier for an honest atheist to go thru the eye of a needle than for a hypocrite Xtian to go thru the pearly gate.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Angelic Moron

      @Angel, but by using the words "pearly gates" or "heaven", you acknowlege you believe. Anyways, The moment pope said "with the blood of christ", he immediately disregarded faiths of millions of other people who follow some other religion. This pope is an idiot.

      That said, I agree with your comments here. I am neither a Xtian nor a staunch follower of the religion I was born in, but I do good acts and like to think that good things follow those who do good things.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @Angelic Moron

      WHY does using the words "pearly gates" or "heaven", mean anyone believes? I can quote sing a Christmas carol without believing in Santa ... I can say Expelliarmus without believing in Harry Potter.

      you seem confused.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  18. Dan B

    No thanks. I prefer to be in the world of reality.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  19. Diana

    John 14:6
    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Pope not only neeeds to study the Bible, he needs to just plain read it.

    May 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Dan B

      Santa 12:25

      May 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Angel Moronic

      I am sure the Pope spent more time reading and contemplating the true meaning of the bible more than Diana ever did her entire life.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Hez316

      I read the article twice and given I'm no Einstein I am having trouble understanding not only what he said but what the Pope meant

      May 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Topher

      Angel Moronic

      I should hope so, considering his status. But it sure doesn't seem like it with these statements.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Joey

      The gist of the statement is that atheists and Catholics should come together and help others. What is so hard to understand about that.? He is just pointing out that atheists are capable of being decent human beings and that is something they have in common with religious people, and as such they should come together to help people.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Chuck

      No man cometh unto the Father but through me. Well, that is what the Pope said. Christ will save you. He loves us, all of us. He, by way of incarnation, understands this human experience we take on. He loves all us, Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Hindu, tree hugger and atheist. The Pope seems to imply that Jesus Christ will save all regardless of religion or lack thereof. The Pope basically seems to be saying that whether you want Jesus to save you or not, doesn't matter. He'll save you anyway. He seems to believe that Jesus' love is so vast and unconditional for us that we can do nothing wrong, so we may well be on a path to the Father through Jesus Christ, whether we like it or not

      May 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • derp

      So that I have this straight....

      The super powerful sky wizard made me.

      He made me a sinner.

      He knew I'd be a sinner before I was born.

      He then expects me to NOT be a sinner.

      But it's ok if I actually am a sinner because he killed his kid to make my sins somehow not sins.

      If accept his dead son as my sin remover, I'm good.

      And you actually believe this?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Joey

      No he said that Jesus died to forgive the sins of everyone, which is true. Nowhere did he say that everyone gets into heaven.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I can hear him saying what joey reports but I don't go as far as Chuck. The catechism (which trumps the pope) still makes provision for man to refuse God's grace and experience hell.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      look ... we can all quote a story book:

      Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
      – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Alkaban

      I'm not sure what quoting a story book proves but hey, I thought I'd join in. 🙂

      May 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  20. faith

    three more commercials in last hour kfc continues to break the law by cloning boneless chickens

    call peta and fbi and get these criminals locked up

    May 24, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Saved By the Belle!

      Let's see if the Catholic Church will follow suit and start showing us bonedless alter boys...

      May 24, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • mary

      They already have had spineless popes. The expertise is there.

      May 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Jesus said it's OK to eat shellfish and pigs, so why not boneless chickens?

      May 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • sam

      Quick – call the Heinous Chicken Crimes Unit at the FBI !!!

      May 24, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
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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.