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July 17th, 2013
07:45 PM ET

Sorry, retweeting the pope won't get you out of hell

Opinion by the Rev. James Martin, SJ, special to CNN

(CNN) –Here were the tantalizingly weird headlines: “Follow pope online, get to heaven sooner - Facebook likes don't count.” “Cut your time in purgatory by following pope on Twitter.” And, worst of all, from Slate: “Pope now offering indulgences in exchange for Twitter followers.”

Similar headlines popped up on more than 190 news sources on Wednesday.

Ha ha. Is the Catholic Church offering time off in hell– or purgatory, depending on the website - just for checking your Twitter feed every few hours? Is the church really that dumb? And here I thought Pope Francis was cool, or as Esquire recently termed him, “awesome.”

This is (another) case of how the media misunderstands and misreports a story from “The Vatican.”

Here’s how it seemed to have happened.

On June 24, the Apostolic Penitentiary (the Vatican office that deals with matters concerning sin,) issued a document that said the faithful who attend the upcoming World Youth Day in Brazil would receive a “plenary indulgence” for their efforts during pilgrimage.

That’s a traditional Catholic term for the full remission of the “temporal punishment” in the afterlife due to sin. The theological idea is that by doing good works on earth, or by engaging in pious practices like a pilgrimage, you can help “work off” some of the temporal punishments that may await you after death.

But just from checking Twitter every few hours? Let’s leave aside the very complicated theology of the plenary indulgence for a moment, and see how this story got out of hand.

The Vatican’s original document offered an indulgence for those who complete a pilgrimage. That’s fairly common. A few years ago, when I made a pilgrimage to the French shrine of Lourdes, one could work towards an indulgence by visiting certain holy sites and praying there.

Once again, the idea is making reparation in penance for your sins. To take a homey example, if you’re a student who talks too much in class, your teacher might ask you to clean the blackboards instead of failing you. To avoid a big punishment you make amends for your mistakes.

But there’s more: the Vatican document noted that the faithful at World Youth Day must be “truly repentant and contrite.” In other words, they must undertake the pilgrimage in a true spirit of repentance. Be sorry for their sins. That’s common, too.

At the end of the document, the Vatican noted that it was not just pilgrims to whom this applied, but another, newer, group: those who might participate “with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.”

Why did the Vatican include that category? As I see it, to be inclusive, something people often accuse the church of not being.

For those who cannot travel to Brazil, because of financial limitations or health restrictions, it's a way of welcoming them.

To my mind, it’s a generous way of inviting people into the Masses, prayers and liturgies during the World Youth Day. Why wouldn’t you want to include the sick, the poor and the elderly in the community of pilgrims? And why wouldn’t you want to help them participate via the web?

So how did this get so focused on Twitter?

Well, it would seem that The Guardian got hold of “a source” in the Vatican who said, “That includes following Twitter.”

Now, who was the source? We are not told. But that was enough for the headline writers at the Guardian to write: “Vatican offers `time off purgatory' to followers of Pope Francis tweets.”

That’s already doubly inaccurate. Because, first of all, even the “source” said it’s not enough to just follow the pope on Twitter (as the headline misleadingly stated).

"But you must be following the events live,” he told the Guardian, “It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the Internet.”

Second, in that same article Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, was quoted as telling the Italian daily Corriere della Sera: "You can't obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine."

In other words: the original document, the “source” and Archbishop Celli all said the opposite of what the headlines said.

That is, it’s not enough simply to follow the pope on Twitter. It’s not even enough to check his Twitter feed frequently. You need to be (a) contrite, (b) trying to follow the events at World Youth Day live and (c) performing these acts with “due devotion.”

In other words, the Vatican is clearly referring to prayerful participation in these events by men and women who could not otherwise go, through the various “new means of social communication.”

An example: A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with a serious form of cancer. After I told her that I would pray for her, I mentioned that the shrine of Lourdes had a 24-hour webcam in the famous Grotto, where Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared in 1858.

She e-mailed me a few days later to say that “visiting” the Grotto, via the web, had helped her to pray. It brought her a great sense of peace. This is the kind of “due devotion” that the Vatican has in mind, despite what the headlines might say.

The worst headline came from the normally careful Slate: Pope Francis is not offering indulgences “in exchange for Twitter followers.” He has plenty of Twitter followers. But he’d probably exchange a few hundred of them for headline writers who actually read the story.

James Martin is a Jesuit priest, editor at large at America magazine and author of "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything." He tweets, but won't promise to get you out of purgatory, at @JamesMartinSJ .

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Internet • News media • Pope Francis • Prayer

soundoff (481 Responses)
  1. EX catholic

    Nonsense, IDOLATRY IS NOT Religion IDOLATRY IS A SIN a Very Very serious SIN.

    July 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Henry

      iconoclast pls go.

      July 18, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
      • EX catholic

        The belief in and worship of icons as well as of idols is IDOLATRY.

        July 18, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
      • Rodents for Romney

        Super duper. Now all ya gotta do is explain what exactly the criteria are that we ALL agree on, that one can use to tell all the false gods from all the real ones. I just bet the "real" one just happens to be your god. Yawn.
        BTW "Idolatry" is no longer spoken of that way in academia. Clearly you are an older person, who has not been to school or had a refresher class, in 50 years.

        July 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
    • Jeff

      Nonsense yourself. Catholics don't worship idols. You're just another tedious troll.

      July 18, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
      • Rodents for Romney

        They sure "pray to" a lot of things other than the gods.

        July 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Bippy the new lesser to medium level squirrel god

      EX Catholic,
      How many times do you plan on repeating yourself ?
      Do you have Alzheimer's ?

      July 19, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  2. CommonSensed

    Tweeting the Pope may not keep you out of hell, but you can always buy your way out.

    Hooray for indulgences!

    July 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Go ahead, try to buy your way out. Better call Bernanke though. He's about to shut down the presses.

      July 19, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  3. Lycidas

    Based on that you must support our military and all the wars and such they ahve done. You know...since you pay your taxes and all to the govt.

    But thank goodness that most Christians in the US are not catholic. Guess you have no problem with the Protestants then.

    July 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  4. Reality

    For the next papal Tweet:

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    July 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Quade

      It's always fun to see people use ignorance as evidence.

      July 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      July 18, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
      • Reality

        AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

        Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

        "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

        Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

        Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

        Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

        The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

        Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

        Some added references to "tink-erbells".

        newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

        "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
        Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

        "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

        And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

        "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

        "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

        "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

        For added information see the review at:

        en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel
        "The prophet Ezekiel described an incredible vision of cherubim angels in Ezekiel chapter 10 of the Torah and the Bible, mentioning that the angels’ wings were “completely full of eyes” (verse 12) and “under their wings was what looked like human hands” (verse 21). The angels each used their wings and something “like a wheel intersecting a wheel” (verse 10) that “sparkled like topaz” (verse 9) to move around."

        For a rather extensive review of angel wings, see http://angels.about.com/od/AngelBasics/a/Angels-Wings-And-Things.htm

        July 18, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
        • Orphan

          Come on..I want all your info. Give us every single copy/paste you have.

          I want pages and pages of the stuff.

          July 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • Reality

          For the reading challenged:

          As we "thu-mp" along with rational thinking, conclusions and reiteration to counter the millennia of false and flawed religious history and theology!!!------––

          July 19, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
        • Orphan

          I said I want more.

          Now are you a liar or are you going to provide more info like you said you would upon request?

          July 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
      • Reality

        For those seeking more information: some references to peruse-

        o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

        2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
        – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

        30-60 CE Passion Narrative
        40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
        50-60 1 Thessalonians
        50-60 Philippians
        50-60 Galatians
        50-60 1 Corinthians
        50-60 2 Corinthians
        50-60 Romans
        50-60 Philemon
        50-80 Colossians
        50-90 Signs Gospel
        50-95 Book of Hebrews
        50-120 Didache
        50-140 Gospel of Thomas
        50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
        50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
        65-80 Gospel of Mark
        70-100 Epistle of James
        70-120 Egerton Gospel
        70-160 Gospel of Peter
        70-160 Secret Mark
        70-200 Fayyum Fragment
        70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
        73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
        80-100 2 Thessalonians
        80-100 Ephesians
        80-100 Gospel of Matthew
        80-110 1 Peter
        80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
        80-130 Gospel of Luke
        80-130 Acts of the Apostles
        80-140 1 Clement
        80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
        80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
        80-250 Christian Sibyllines
        90-95 Apocalypse of John
        90-120 Gospel of John
        90-120 1 John
        90-120 2 John
        90-120 3 John
        90-120 Epistle of Jude
        93 Flavius Josephus
        100-150 1 Timothy
        100-150 2 Timothy
        100-150 T-itus
        100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
        100-150 Secret Book of James
        100-150 Preaching of Peter
        100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
        100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
        100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
        100-160 2 Peter

        3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
        – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
        4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
        5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
        6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
        7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
        8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
        joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
        9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
        15. The Journal of Higher Criticism with links to articles on the Historical Jesus:
        mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
        16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
        17. Diseases in the Bible:
        etd.unisa.ac.za/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-08022006-125807/unrestricted/02dissertation.pdf
        18. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
        theologians, ethics, etc.
        religion-online.org/
        19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity:
        mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
        20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
        21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.
        ntgateway.com/
        22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians:
        members.aol.com/DrSwiney/seminar.html
        23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php
        24. JD Crossan's scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separated into time periods: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtf
        25. JD Crossan's conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years:
        faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan2.rtf
        26. Common Sayings from Thomas's Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf
        27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
        28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?
        infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
        29. NT and beyond time line:
        pbs.org/empires/peterandpaul/history/timeline/
        30. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
        harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
        31. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
        32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
        33. The books of the following : Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
        34. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
        35. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus
        36. the studies and books of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

        July 20, 2013 at 12:00 am |
  5. philokalos

    Hey, it's an article about the Catholic Church! Cue the spittle-flying rabid attack dogs! Oh wait, they're already here. 🙂

    July 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • ME II

      Cue the proclamations of persecution... oh wait...

      July 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  6. Alias

    Tweeting may not get anyone out of hell, but I bet if I tweet what I really think of the church people would want me to go there.

    July 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Go where? Detroit?

      July 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  7. lee

    The worst part about this article is that they assume hell exists. A place where people are sent to be tortured for eternity for the crime of disbelief (the default position) in a deity whose basic existence has not been demonstrated. Take your religion and shove it.

    July 18, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Tim

      Disbelief is not the default position. You have to rebel against humanity to be an atheist.

      July 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
      • lee

        Tim – do you believe in Zeus? No? If the default position were belief then why not? Do you believe in Allah? Ra? Thor? Wotan? Hercules? Horus? You must believe in a lot of gods if belief is the default. Plus Santa.

        July 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
        • Tim

          The default position is belief in a God. It doesn't matter what name people are giving him.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
        • lee

          That is a nice assertion you have there, but the default position for ANY existence claim is disbelief until it has been demonstrated otherwise. Otherwise you would believe in fairies, pixies, leprechauns, elves, witches, etc. Gods don't get a pass.

          Disbelief in the existence of Tiger Woods is the default position, too, but I believe in him because his existence is demonstrable.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Tim

          When I say default position, I mean after the influence of society, not that a person is born believing in God. When a person is raised in society, the general consensus of those around them is a belief in God, a belief which is shared by the majority of the people in the world. In order for someone to not believe in God they have to reject the belief of the majority, to be of the opinion that they know better than the majority.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
        • lee

          When I say default position, I mean default position. If different societies have varying degrees of religiosity (and adherence to conflicting religions) then in order to address the actual default position you have to consider the default as before societal influence. BTW there are majority secular/atheist societies, so your point about rejecting the belief of the majority is moot too.

          July 18, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • ME II

      @Tim,
      "Disbelief is not the default position. You have to rebel against humanity to be an atheist."

      While determining the "default" position might take some time, how did you determine that atheism, a disbelief in god(s), is a rebellion against humanity?

      July 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
      • Tim

        It's a rebellion against a belief shared by most of humanity. In order to be an atheist you would have to make the choice not to share in that belief.

        July 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
        • Alias

          I did not choose to be an athiest.
          I read your bible, and it made no sense. I can't believe in a book as flawed as the bible any more than you could believe in Thor.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
        • Tim

          Alias, I'm sure you were aware that most of the people around you believed either that the Bible was true, or that God existed in a similar form. You made a choice not to share in that belief, presumably to believe that God does not exist at all.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
        • lee

          Belief versus disbelief is not a choice. I cannot believe in a god or gods until I am convinced by evidence. Similarly, you don't believe in invisible pink unicorns. Do you choose not to believe in them? Could you choose to believe in them? I'm guessing that, like me with god(s), you are simply unconvinced and could not choose to believe in invisible pink unicorns.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
        • Imagine No Religion

          Tim said, "It's a rebellion against a belief shared by most of humanity. In order to be an atheist you would have to make the choice not to share in that belief."

          It is not rebellion against humanity, as we are all born atheists, humans and all other animals alike. While all other animals happily live out their lives as atheists, humans are religiously indoctrinated by the family/country/society into which they are born. It is not god who created man. It is man who has created god. It would do humanity a world of good to live (as all other animals do) in the reality of the universe instead of the god delusion conjured up with so-called human intelligence.

          -–
          "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
          Now that I found out, I know I can cry." - John Lennon

          July 18, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
        • Rodents for Romney

          BTW, what "shared belief" are you talking about exactly ?
          30 + thousand sects of Christianity ? Do they share a belief.
          Do Christians REALLY praise Allah? Do Muslims praise Yahweh ?
          So much crap you spout.

          July 18, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
        • sarahdoggerblogger

          Yes, it's always good to go with what the masses believe. Might surely equals right. Like with slavery, oppression of women, the world was flat, etc. If most people think it, it must be true.

          September 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
      • ME II

        @Tim,
        Popularity does not equate to truth, otherwise the Earth would be at the center of the universe and flat and Zeus, Ra or whichever god(s) came first would actually exist.

        July 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
        • Gary

          Even stranger than Tim's appeal to popularity for determining truth is the utterly ridiculous notion he's trying to foist off that not believing something that is commonly believed by others equates to a 'rebellion against humanity'. Since when was having a different opinion than the majority a rebellion against your entire species? What a ludicrous notion, only compounded by the following tautology – that belief is the 'default position', yet it only becomes the default position AFTER societal influence.... err well it's not the 'default position' then, is it? This is the rhetorical equivalent of a stage-magician waving their hand frantically while pocketing the rabbit.

          July 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
      • Rodents for Romney

        Timmy, the Illogical One
        Nope. That's the Argumentum ad Populum fallacy.
        One does not chose to believe in ANYTHING because of the number of people who believe it.
        99 % of people once thought the world was flat, and they were all wrong.
        One examines the core tenets of the belief itself, and decides on the basis of those.
        Nice disingenuous attempt at marginalizing atheists.
        Christians once were the tiny minority.
        Were THEY all wrong because they went against majority opinion.
        When you get big, you can go to school and maybe take Logic 101.
        Are you saying going against evil majority governments would not be good ?
        Oh please. Grow a brain.

        July 18, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
        • He's obviosly from the Bible Belt

          So now "thinking for yourself" is now *rebellion*, just because a slight majority disagrees with him.
          Someone really needs to be "popular" and needs to tell himself he's in the majority.

          July 19, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • some_guy24

      lee you are an atheist just like us to all gods, presemt, past, and most likely future if it came to that, except we have one more god on our list we dont believe.

      i know ur going to try and tilt the subject into another area as do most religious people. but people are not born with the belief. and since u are the one making the assetion we are, then prove it. just like you would claim god is real, it would be up to you to prove it

      July 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
      • some_guy24

        sorry lee, that was mean for tim

        July 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
        • Tim

          What makes you think I'm religious?

          July 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
        • lee

          No problem some guy.

          My first clue that you were religious, Tim, was that you were arguing in favor of belief in god(s).

          July 18, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
        • Tim

          I wasn't arguing in favor of belief in god(s), I was arguing that it's the default position of someone raised in human society and that it takes an act of rebellion to oppose that belief. There's nothing wrong with rebellion. Many great discoveries have been made by those who rebel against the mainstream.

          July 18, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
        • Rodents for Romney

          Thinking for oneself is not rebellion.
          Your false premise is that there is any majority that actually hold the SAME beliefs about any of their gods.

          July 18, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
      • lee

        I've already explained how your definition of default makes no sense so I'll ignore that. But tell me, what do you believe? And why?

        July 18, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
        • Rodents for Romney

          It's only a "default" if you grow up in a practicing believer household. What is that 50 % or less. It's not a "default" at all. He's provided no supporting evidence for the position. There is no reason to accept it. People say they believe, yet never go to church. Why would children in that environment take it seriously at all ? Default ? Nope.

          July 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism
      Sorry Tim. The facts do not agree with you.
      There are many societies where belief is the vast minority, and unbelief is growing.
      What god are you even talking about ?
      A deist god ? A theist god ? An ancient angry war god, such as Yahweh ?
      The Arabic moon-god, named Sin, whom they turned into Allah ?
      The 3 headed Christian god ?

      July 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  8. Tammy

    Regardless of what you haters say Pope Francis is a good honest man who has done more for the church than any other Pope alive today

    July 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Yup, he is the best of that breed for sure.

      One step above being a Nazi makes his the best of the worst.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • toll

        you're an angry elf

        July 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
        • My Dog is a jealous Dog

          Facts are not "angry" – there are two living popes and one was a member of the Hitler youth. FACT!

          July 18, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
        • Lycidas

          He was never a Nazi: FACT.

          And the whole one step from being a Nazi is pure foolishness. Does being a Boy Scout make you one step away from being a Marine? Of course not.

          July 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • nelson jones

      Tammy:

      If Francis was really a good and honest man, he would open the books in all countries where children were molested by RCC Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, etc., so the local, secular authorities could press charges and put these monsters on trial.

      Instead, like John Paul 2 and Ratzinger, before him, he choses to hide behind the status of being the head of a Nation-State, in order to avoid doing the ethical and morally proper thing.

      July 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • Mirosal

        If the Pope were truly a good and honest man, he wouldn't have fought so hard to stop the same-se'x marraige act before the Argentinian legislature. He must be pretty upset now that he's Pope, and his home country has APPROVED marriage for all. All I can say is ... ha ha serves him right!!!

        July 19, 2013 at 5:28 am |
  9. Sindra

    What is the point of following the pope if he won't give you any favors in the afterlife? It's just about money to those guys!

    July 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  10. Tony

    Just shows how much nonsense can be generated by a false conception like the indulgence

    July 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
  11. MrHighMighty

    The Catholic church is its own worst enemy, and the confusion regarding this story is just the lastest example of what happens when religions depart from Scripture. The Catholic church's distortions and additions to the Gospel of Jesus Christ prevent many of its members from experiencing the joy and peace of true Christianity. Even worse, the Catholic church's bizarre practices and twisted theology are easy and vulnerable targets for scorn and mockery from the unsaved, and thereby obscure God's revelations for seekers of real truth.

    July 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Ah, where have I heard this before?

      Perhaps Nuremberg?

      We Gestapo object to the actions of the SS, and feel they are preventing the appreciation of Nazi culture and the salvation it offers thru the Fuhrer Christ.

      Dude, if your are under the Christ umbrella, you are JUST as guilty as they. Your intra-cult rivalries do NOT indemnify you In the real world.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
      • Bill S. Preston, Esq.

        "Dude, if your are under the Christ umbrella, you are JUST as guilty as they."

        Dude, like..group guilt is so last century. Get with the times.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
        • William Demuth

          Tell that to the Afghans, and see what their reply is.

          You are known by the company you keep.

          July 18, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
        • Bill S. Preston, Esq.

          "Tell that to the Afghans, and see what their reply is."

          Group think doesn't make the concept of group guilt correct. It doesn't matter if 99.9999% of humanity thought group guilt was alright. Justice and truth overides group think any day of thr week.

          "You are known by the company you keep."

          Hmm, so you believe in judging based on the superficial instead of the person within? You sound like the Zimmerman as described by the race baiters out there. They basically said that Zimmerman judged Trayvon based on his clothing and such and applied it to stereotypes of young men in hoodies.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
        • William Demuth

          He did, and he killed him?

          Your point? And you don't need to keep changing screen names, it only makes you look more foolish than usual.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "Your point?"

          Nothing beyond the point you judge in the superficial.

          "And you don't need to keep changing screen names, it only makes you look more foolish than usual."

          Easy now...maybe you didn't get the reference and don't know who Bill is. It's just when you used "dude" in your comment that made me think about the name.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • William Demuth

          Lycidas

          I judge by whatever metric I choose to, Unless you believe I should view the world from your eyes?

          I mean granted, religion is the definition of superficial, but it is as valuable a yard stick as any.

          For those so indoctrinated they argue it is these central founding principal

          Now granted, the whole base your life on a comic book does seem strange, but they make that choice, not me.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "I judge by whatever metric I choose to, Unless you believe I should view the world from your eyes?"

          Of course not. You are free to make your own mistakes based on whatever metric you choose to use.

          "Now granted, the whole base your life on a comic book does seem strange, but they make that choice, not me."

          I'm sorry but it seems you are a few words shy of a coherent sentence.

          July 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • William Demuth

        I say again. If you support an Organization, be it a church, or a biker gang, or a cult, or a political party, YOU are complicit in its crimes.

        So spare me the Nazi defense, we heard it when we hung the several thousand of them we did at the end of the war.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "I say again. If you support an Organization, be it a church, or a biker gang, or a cult, or a political party, YOU are complicit in its crimes."

          Saying it again does not make it true. Curious, how do you define "support"? From what I can glean from your ramblings...you must be guilty of the crimes at Wounded Knee, Hiroshima, the fire bombings of Dresden and so many other crimes done by the US since you obviously support the US by being a citizen.

          "So spare me the Nazi defense,"

          Got to love it when arguments break down to Reductio ad Hitlerum.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • Dark Itch

          I love it even more when an apologist resorts to empty pseudo-intellectualism in order to prove a nonpoint.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
      • William Demuth

        And as far as Zimmy, he capped the kid because he felt inadequate in his shorts and bought a pistol to compensate. He wanted to get some street creds for killing a kid so he could feel like a man.

        If he had butted heads with a real gangsta, they would have slit his throat

        July 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
        • Lycidas

          So...in all that blabber are you denying that you are like Zimmerman? Even though you judge by the superficial?

          July 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • meifumado

          Your ignorance is showing yet again.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • William Demuth

          Me like Zimmy?

          If I shoot someone, I admit my motivations.

          I judge you by what you put forward. If I ever decided to shoot you, I certainly wouldn't hide behind nonsense.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
      • William Demuth

        And the winner rarely foces justice.

        When you LOSE you get justice, so up to this point, the US hasn't gotten much, but sooner or later what goes around comes around.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "but sooner or later what goes around comes around."

          So you put your faith into some form of karmic justice. Ok, you could ahve just said that.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • William Demuth

          No, just a knowledge of History

          Those who dominate invariably fall. And are usually killed.

          Such is the destiny of your faith, as it was for those you cobbled your Franken Gods bits and pieces from.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "Those who dominate invariably fall. And are usually killed."

          All die Willy. No one said otherwise.

          "Such is the destiny of your faith, as it was for those you cobbled your Franken Gods bits and pieces from."

          What faith is that? I have never claimed one. Do you always guess so much? Don't you ever let facts guide your thinking?

          July 18, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
        • William Demuth

          One does not need to state the obvious, and you have been posting the same drivel for ages and ages.

          The same nonsensical style, the same fetid arguments and the same wrong conclusions.

          Only Christians are that intellectually dishonest.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "One does not need to state the obvious,"

          And yet that is what you did...I only pointed it out. Try to pay attention.

          "and you have been posting the same drivel for ages and ages."

          Save the drama for someone who cares.

          "The same nonsensical style, the same fetid arguments and the same wrong conclusions."

          Sounds more like that since you can't insult your way out of the conversation you'll simple say my comments make no sense. Are you always such a coward?

          "Only Christians are that intellectually dishonest."

          And ending it with a ad hominem...good job.

          July 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
      • ME II

        What?
        Did any Nazis actually use this defense?

        I thought the stereotype was "I was just following orders."

        July 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Elise

      Ah. "No true Scotsman".
      Your scorn and mockery are shining through.
      Clean your own house before you attempt to tell others why theirs are dirty. Posts such as yours, who makes a mockery of other's beliefs, are the biggest reason religion is so divisive; your extreme arrogance in your choice of moniker is telling.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • MrHighMighty

        Elise sweetie, yes I do have scorn. It's a righteous scorn against false doctrine. The price Jesus paid for our sins is infinite. Why do Catholic leaders teach that believers still have unforgiven sins that require tasks and rituals and "temporal punishment" before they are truly saved? Was Christ's act not enough? So instead of teaching ways of being drawn closer to Christ, that practice keeps up a barrier to Him, and even worse, places certain men as supposed intermediaries to pure deliverance.

        July 18, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
        • Bippy the new lesser to medium level squirrel god

          Why did a "price" have to be paid to a loving god ? Can't the god just say "I forgive you" ? Is your god only appeased by the sacrifice of his children. Nice god ya got there. What is an "infinite price" anyway ? Where did you get that ? It's NOT in the Bible. So I guess you just made it up. Do you people actually think people buy that crap from you snake-oil salesmen ?

          July 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
        • MrHighMighty

          Bippy, your comments start out with some reasonable questions, but then become accusatory and the tone rather skeptical, so I'm not sure about your motivations, but thank you anyway for the opportunity here to address some common misconceptions. My comments are entirely and only Biblical.

          You are correct that Our God is a loving God. But He is also a Holy and Just God, and He always keeps His Covenants and promises. God is perfect and does not allow imperfection in His heaven, and He must punish sin. God decreed that the punishment of sin is death. But in His love God provided to His chosen people a remedy to escape the punishment for their sin. The remedy is Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life as a man yet was put to death by men. Jesus' life and punishment in the flesh re-opened for all people a connection to eternity with God. Jesus is an eternal Person of infinite God, and so there is no limit to the number of people or sins that are forgiven because of Jesus Christ's sacrifice, He bears it all.

          Taking it deeper (if you are interested), man was created with a physical body, but also in God's image with an eternal soul. Adam's sin caused God to expel man from Eden and to put a curse on all men, so that the bodies of all men became subject to decay, disease, and death, and the fallen souls of men were barred from union with God. As the perfect eternal Son of God, Jesus' death could only be a death of flesh, the death of His nature as a man. So He rose from that death in His glorified spiritual body, and now stands in our shoes before the Judgment Throne of God. God's punishment for all our sins was dished out on Jesus on the cross. So in a similar way that all people became subject to God's wrath as a result of Adam's sin in the flesh, Christ's sacrifice while in the flesh saves the souls of all people who believe. Our flesh still dies because of God's curse on our physical nature as the promised punishment on Adam, but the souls of believers have been cleansed because Christ paid in full the price for our sins committed in flesh. Now when our flesh dies, we are freed from the chains of the curse on Adam.

          So God is perfectly just, and forgiving and loving. Still in doubt that the above is not from the Bible? Start with a slow read through Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans.

          July 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
      • Elise

        Nah, you're not righteous; you're just a religious bigot because they teach the Bible differently, and use early Christian writings not included in the Bible, who, I will remind you, are the responsible for putting together in the first place.
        But if you want to condemn the first Christian organized religion, have at it, and wear your self-righteousness proudly; as proudly as your self-congratulatory moniker. Honey buns.

        July 19, 2013 at 12:32 am |
    • Dark Itch

      Departing from scripture is perhaps the most intelligent decision this corporation has ever made. By distancing itself, it avoids answering to the problems with adhering to the scripture. If adhering to the scripture is what you want, then you'd be better off living as the cavemen that wrote it did.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
      • MrHighMighty

        Dark Itch, ironically I agree with the first part of your post. In this fallen world, it is much easier for corrupt church leaders to gain and stay in power by departing from Scripture.

        But the comment about cavemen is silly. One of the beauties of Scripture is the logical progression of the revelation of God's plan through history, leading to the birth and Resurrection of Christ during the peak era of the Roman empire. At any sooner point in the development of civilization, God would have had to actively sustain the spreading of the Gospel after Pentacost, which would be contrary to the prophesies of the Old Testament that Jesus Christ would be the final Word. Hence, another beauty of Scripture is the timelessness of the main concepts of the Gospel, that has grown from the teachings of a rebellious and persecuted band of "cavemen", to reach around the world, and the same message will continue to sustain itself through the last days of this era.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
  12. Bob Kendall

    I am re-reading Fr. James Martin's book, The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything, and I would highly recommend it It is very enlightening and well written and has especially been a very big help to me in learning to see God in all things, including people and situations. Thanks for being a great voice of reason for the modern Church, Fr. James. You are greatly appreciated for your ability to present a rational view for the Church in response to the media's ridiculous attempts at maligning or ridiculing her. God's Peace.

    July 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      You must have a lot of time on your hands. Why dont you do something worthwhile?

      July 18, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Yeah, do something worthwhile like I am doing right now...duh.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • Dark Itch

      Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat. An apologetics book. It sounds soooooooooo wonderful.

      July 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  13. ECK

    As a former Catholic, I thought this Pope might make a difference. I should have known better.

    July 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Why did you feel that way? Obviously he had nothing really to do with this story.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  14. Lycidas

    You seem to have this odd thought that Christians have to defend or explain Timothy Dolan's actions. Very odd indeed, do you buy into the group guilt idea?

    July 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  15. DSCHRAM

    Wasn't the practice of indulgences the trigger for the Protestant Reformation? (I think I just heard Martin Luther rolling over in his grave.)

    July 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • ME II

      Or was the practice of selling indulgences?

      July 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
      • William Demuth

        To imply something has value and require something for it IS selling things.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
      • ME II

        By your definition nearly everything is "sold".

        July 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
      • William Demuth

        Everything is.

        Quite obvious really, EVERYTHING has a price.

        Always had, always will.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
      • ME II

        There is a difference between selling something for cash to anyone and requiring someone to earn something. I'm not defending Indulgences, but requiring certain actions and behavior rather than cash is not considered "selling", I don't think.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
      • William Demuth

        Then try and trade a hand job for a six pack.

        Barter for booty is no different than bartering for souls.

        July 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
      • ME II

        @William Demuth,
        "Then try and trade a hand job for a six pack."

        And yet "bartering" for se.x with marriage won't get you arrested, will it?

        July 18, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Paid indulgences were part of the reformation – the idea that donating money to the church would get you a better spot in heaven. This is not the same deal, since it involves reading presumably holy things and thinking good thoughts. Actually, including Twitter and such is a way to say this isn't about money – you don't have to have the money and ability to do a pilgramage in order to do a bit of early pennance, which is how I interpret this type of 'indulgence'.

      But hey, I'm just an atheist raised Catholic, so I can't take it too seriously and I'm hardly an expert. I just know about that bit of religious history. It was hitting the point where it was "buy your way into heaven" and the poor were out of luck.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • William Demuth

        You DO understand a Twitter following is easily converted to cash.

        Inundate the ignorant with ads.

        In a world where one can buy a Chinese crucifix that can project the so called Lords Prayer for $19.99 (Plus shipping and handling) on the Internet, a list of sheep's contact information is ENDLESSLY valuable.

        Like Facebook or Google, nothing is free.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • ME II

        @William Demuth,
        "You DO understand a Twitter following is easily converted to cash."

        As the article said, I don't think the Vatican is granting Indulgences simply for following on Twitter. That's kind of the point of the article.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
      • William Demuth

        Me

        The soul reason for Twittering is to create and monetize a following

        Sheesh, this is worse than the Free, but Pay shipping and handling cons on late night TV.

        I sort of like it, because it will spare the Muslims the trouble of having to make their own hit list when the time comes.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
      • ME II

        "The soul reason for Twittering is to create and monetize a following"

        The sole reason for "Twitter", the company, may be to monetize a following, but for the majority of Twitters (?) it will never be about money.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
        • ME II

          Twitterers ? People who Twitter. Tweeters? whatever

          July 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
        • My Dog is a jealous Dog

          Just plain Twits.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Robert Chacon

      You people are totally ignorant of theology, church history and in particular indulgences. Whether you believe in it or not doesn't even matter. But it seems that those of you who take time to write nasty hateful comments on here would at least like to know what the hell youre talking about. Indulgences have nothing to do with getting into heaven. They are a recognition of good works as penance for sins, but do nothing to earn ones way to heaven. Secondly, indulgences were only a small part of the main issues. Martin Luther had no problem with indulgences as taught by the Catholic Church. He opposed abuses by clergy that simply sold indulgences, meaning provided an indulgence for a simple payment instead of true and virtuous act of charity. Lastly, since most of you who write on here are nothing more than angry anti Christian anti religious bigot haters, Im sure this comment doesn't matter. However, it just goes to the fact that while you all think you are so much more intelligent , knowledgeable and wiser than those of us Christians and Catholics, you are in fact quite ignorant of the issues you disparage and therefore really quite foolish in condemning something you don't even know about.. While Im sure the finer points of the indulgence theology aren't of any significance to you, the fact is that it simply displays your overall lack ability to reason and foolish behavior in general, So before you continue to spew nonsense and hate and bigotry, why don't you instead try to string together a few coherent suppositions that lead to an actual logical conclusions Unfortunately, the vast majority of comments on here are nothing more than mindless , angry , untested atheistic blather that you think amounts to real intelligence and wisdom. The more I see these comments, the more I know that it is in fact people who follow the intelligible logic of monumental thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine are in fact people who believe in God, Christianity and Catholicism in particular. Im not saying only Christianity is logical and intelligent, but what I am saying, the nonsense and anger and outrage I see by most of you is neither logical , wise or having any real basis in sound philosophy , organized thought or belief system. But rather mainly the lone rants of many isolated angry , foolish group-thinkers of the extreme . I cant Prove Catholicism or Christianity to you, but I doubt five of you could argue for atheism in any intelligible manner. And your arrogance in believing that simply because you are an atheist somehow makes you more intelligent?? Bad argument! You cant hold a candle to ANY of the great Doctors of the Church! So blather all you want , personally I don't care. But as a suggestion you may want to consider the source of your anger and the source of your belief systems. Because the vast majority of the comments here suggest people have no real systematic understanding of what they believe but rather just a visceral response AGAINST anything Christian , particularly Catholic, because Mother Church dares to suggest theres a better way to live than the manner in which you have chosen to spend your life on planet earth. Whatever, you think may be truth, doesn't really matter in the face of what really is truth. And yes I do mean the truth of the Catholic Church. But based on the ignorant comments vomited all over the web, I can almost guarantee that most of you haters only really know 10% of what you think the Church teaches. The rest of it is straw man concepts created by yourselves to justify your immoral and even evil , in some cases, lifestyle. Well, you can deny the Truth of the Church all you want , but you cant deny the hateful bigotry that covers 90% of this posting.

      July 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
      • He's obviosly from the Bible Belt

        No Robert.
        Nice rant though.
        Obviously you have had more than your share of the cool aide. Many of us know just as much if not more about your pedophile organization than you do. "Anti religious bigot haters" ? Why thank you. Yes we do hate bigots. Obviously if you knew how to write in correct English, you would have said BIGOTED haters. The usual tripe from regionists. Agree with my idiotic tripe, or you are a "hater". We are not ignorant of the issues. We were once, many of us Catholics, and had the smatrs to give it up. just like 10 % of Americans. Ex-Catholics. But thanks for being judgmental. "Judge not lest ye be judged". Ever hear that one Bobby ? There ARE no "fine point" of "indulgence theology" It's 100 % pure unadulterated crap. Totally made up by humans to make it look like your church has some control over your imaginary after-life. It's all predicated on the existence of spacetime in a spiritual realm, as Bucky said. Dispite all your insults, you said NOT ONE THING to actually defend or explain it. It is non-Biblical, and NO other Chrstian cult, other than your buys one word of it. No Biblical scholar EVER ONCE said anything about it. Aquinas said that the pleasure of those in heaven was increased because they got to see the pain of those suffering in hell. Nice role model ya got there Bobby. He also said that Satan tempted Eve first, because she was the stupid one of the two. You do know he was condemned by the Archbishop of Paris a number of times right ? And Augustine ? Really / The pervert who was SO guilty about his se'xual sins he cooked up the whole business of "original sin" ? Are you sure you should be bring him up ? But do continue to rant and be defensive. The Roman Church is LOOSING because it is EVIL. It preys on children, and then tries to hide it. Oh we understand everything. Much more than you do.

        July 19, 2013 at 4:02 am |
      • Double R

        Robert Chacon

        Unfortunately, a minute part of what Bible Belt is true. Indulgences are absolutely not biblical. Some times us Christians tend to put more emphasis on the teachings of the "church" rather than on the teachings of God's actual Word. We are quick to believe in put our trust into what an organized collective says, rather than open up the living Word of God and seeing if what the "church" is teaching is actually what God intended for us. Now, the reason why I put "church" in parenthesis is because according to scriptures we Christians make up the church, not any organization specifically. As Christians we must hold true that the Word of God is the one true authority. It is not a menu we pick and choose from, it is the recipe by which we live our lives. There is nothing we can do on earth or no one person that can grant us salvation except Jesus himself. Not the Pope, no priest, not even Mary. Jesus Christ is the one true way to the Father. And we must hold true to that if we are to continue the great commission given by Christ to all his disciples... to make disciples of all nations.

        Now Bible Belt, obviously this is not directed at you but to those who say the have a genuine belief in our God and want to live by the word of God. I totally respect your belief and your opinion. I may not agree with it, but that doesn't mean that I personally hold anything against you. I often have great debates and discussions with a few atheists that work with me. And it always remains in the spirit of great conversation and respect. I don't discriminate against atheists. I have 5 atheist friends. haha.

        July 19, 2013 at 11:14 am |
      • He's obviosly from the Bible Belt

        You forgot to point out exactly what was not true. I stand by every word of it, and can provide references for every line. What was not true, exactly ?

        July 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  16. William Demuth

    I remember back in the 80's when the Warsaw pact was on the ropes.

    Some believed it was going to regroup, and some believed it might slowly come apart, but almost no one believed it would collapse.

    I see similarities in Christianity at this point, and specifically in the RCC. The shakeups, the scandals, the declining coffers and the ascendancy of the Muslims might be an early indicator.

    Frankly, if they don't turn it around soon, perhaps within a generation or two, we may finally see the demise of it.

    Ironic really, that the Christ fable that has survived so much for so long could be laid low so quickly.

    The internet is an amazing thing!! Good riddance to it and its adherents!!

    July 18, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Lycidas

      HAHAHAHA!

      Oh Willy, you are good for a laugh. You think there are similarities between a political union that didn't even last a century and a religion that has been around for nearly 2,000 years.

      I think you are just a victim of wishful thinking.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • William Demuth

        Yup

        The Zoroastrians said the same thing.

        As a matter of fact I am confident at least one adherent of the 3000 gods we Atheists have debunked went to his death bed believing in nonsense.

        Hopefully, for the Christians, you shall be that one, but please hang around long enough to realize your God is dead, buries, and never returning.

        Justice will be served, and we will be ENDLESSLY amused.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "The Zoroastrians said the same thing."

          Really? You have evidence for that or are you just shooting from the lip and or hip again? Maybe you actual met a few that said that..did you?

          "As a matter of fact I am confident at least one adherent of the 3000 gods we Atheists have debunked went to his death bed believing in nonsense."

          Umm, are you claiming to have proved a negative? You atheists have proven that 3000 gods do not exist?

          "Hopefully, for the Christians, you shall be that one, but please hang around long enough to realize your God is dead, buries, and never returning."

          Typical ploy that always fail. The topic isn't about my personal belief or lack thereof son. Try again.

          "Justice will be served, and we will be ENDLESSLY amused."

          Justice isn't about amusement but simply about justice. You don't want that if you believe in the concept of group guilt.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "Us Census figures show no Americans worship ANY of more than 1000 Gods. You see, even Gods die, because they only exist in the minds of idiots, and if we prevent the infection from being spread, it dies with the idiot. Think Small Pox of the brain."

          Well, ignoring the ad hominems you have made toward people of faith....what you have shown is that certain religions die out and not there gods. Merely being forgotten is not evidence of nonexistence. If that was the case, the vast majority of humanity never existed because we do not know who they are.

          "And frankly, ALL religions that die do so because its last adherent does. Seems quite obvious to the non indoctrinated!!"

          Calm youself..you are not implying anyone here is indoctrinated are you? Anywho...I agree that religions can and have died out. No one have said otherwise.

          "As far as Justice, it is what I say it is. It is relative to the viewer, not the observer. If I believe justice is you being fed to a pack of syphilitic weasels for your crimes, I can call for it just as I see fit."

          Lol...care to tell us the precise difference between a "viewer" and a "observer"?
          And what you are describing is closer to revenge than justice.

          "You are guilty of supporting old perverts who bugger boys, and you should burn in your own imaginary hell."

          I am guilty of no such thing. If you feel otherwise you may please cite your evidence where I have support "old perverts who bugger boys".
          Hmm, I've been to Gehenna..does that count because obviously you don't care about facts or anything.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
        • William Demuth

          Revenge is just first person Justice

          I support it strongly, and encourage others to do the same.

          Faith, as you refer to it is an elected condition and I hold people accountable for it.

          Viewing is first person, and observing is second person. Any other basic ideas I can clarify, like perhaps reality?

          July 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
        • ME II

          "Viewing is first person, and observing is second person."

          lol... sorry, but that's just funny.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "Revenge is just first person Justice"

          I hope you remember that if anyone feels the need to get their "first person justice" upon you some day. But I doubt you will mutter out that justice has been done.

          "Faith, as you refer to it is an elected condition and I hold people accountable for it."

          Religious faith...I might agree with. Hmm, but that would mean that you do not believe that indoctrination is as strong a force as other atheists imply it is.
          But generalized faith is not an electable condition.

          "Any other basic ideas I can clarify, like perhaps reality?"

          I call into question that your views of reality are not superior to anyone else's view.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
        • William Demuth

          Perhaps that might be the case someday, so I try to be fair, but I do NOT expect it.

          Its a dog eat God world out here, and we usually die horrible deaths, so party while you can.

          But we all can act as we see fit, and I am prepared to give as much justice as I get.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Always with the violence William. If your philosophy won't allow you to hang in the discussion without resorting to it, why not abandon it for something that will. Hint; you'll probably have to take a good hard look at your materialistic hedonism.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:19 am |
      • Dark Itch

        Politics and religion are very similar. The only real difference is that at least with politics, sometimes you actually get some truth. Religion has seen a dramaticly sharp decline in recent history thanks to the availability of information. Yes, it too will collapse in on itself eventually. Sooner, hopfully, than later.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
        • Lycidas

          keep to your faith, it seems to give you happiness.

          July 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Colin

      Lycidas – 2,000 years is somewhere between 1% and 2% of the time since H.sapiens evolved from H.erectus on an African savanah. The totem and ancestor worship beliefs of Cro-Magnon man (the earliest fully modern humans) very likely lasted for most of this time (120,000 to 200,000 years). Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism are all older than Christianity.

      Given that Christianity is now bumping into the greater spread of reason, logic and healthy skepticism born of the internet, I expect it to go into a more rapid decline in the USA. Ancient myths simply cannot endure against the penetrating light of science and reason for very long.

      July 18, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
      • Len

        Hear, hear. Wonderful post, Colin.

        July 18, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
      • Lycidas

        Colin- "2,000 years is somewhere between 1% and 2% of the time since H.sapiens evolved from H.erectus on an African savanah."

        And your point? Because it obviously has nothing to do with me calling a comparison of the Warsaw Pact to Christianity foolish.

        "The totem and ancestor worship beliefs of Cro-Magnon man (the earliest fully modern humans) very likely lasted for most of this time (120,000 to 200,000 years). Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism are all older than Christianity."

        Again..what's your point? I was calling it foolish to compare a political union that lasted not even a century to a religion that lasted for 2,000 as foolish. Which it is.
        You are not implying that length of existense means something is more..what? Good? Correct? Because in no way have I implied that.

        "I expect it to go into a more rapid decline in the USA."

        Your guesses corrolate with many other atheists. It could happen...it might not. I call it wishful thinking on the part of atheists.

        "Ancient myths simply cannot endure against the penetrating light of science and reason for very long."

        Hmm, it seems you would judge science and reason as morally good. Of course that would be in error. That would be like the religious calling their faith morally good just because they agree with it.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
        • Sven

          Hear, hear. Wonderful post, Lyc.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • William Demuth

          And just use Judaism as your template, formerly dominate, and in rapid decline, pushed aside by modernity.

          Soon the Christians will be holed up, surrounded by other faiths that want to murder each and every one of you.

          And rest assured, given the opportunity, I will be amongst those besieging that wall.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "And just use Judaism as your template, formerly dominate, and in rapid decline, pushed aside by modernity."

          Dominate? Judaism? Exactly who did they ever really dominate? Granted, the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were Judaistic in nature and controlled a little scrap of land but in no way are the comparable to such nations as the Persions, Romans, British..etc.
          I'm afriad Judaism that your example is a rather bad one considering all that the religion of Judaism has endured and still exists.

          "Soon the Christians will be holed up, surrounded by other faiths that want to murder each and every one of you."

          You you you....got to keep trying to make it personal. Keep failing.

          "And rest assured, given the opportunity, I will be amongst those besieging that wall."

          Don't worry, I'm sure someone will meet up with you to give some personal justice your way. That's the way you would want it.

          July 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • mdozer

        😀 This logic and reason thing you talk about...isn't that Aristotelian logic and reason? This science you talk about, and the scientific method...didn't the formal scientific method come about through scholasticism in the middle ages? And you know who those scholastics were right, like St. Thomas Aquinas? The guy who showed how great and wonderful the thought of pagan Aristotle was in Catholic Europe? And you know that St. Thomas worked and studied at several universities...the university system that was setup by Catholics and guarded almost exclusively by the popes? Lolz, you must be talking about all that logic and reasoning! 😀
        Oooh, those intarwebs...how scary! All this science and reason...you must think that I am in the Catholic Church because science and reason are oh so scary...actually, I converted to Catholic faith because the claims are true, and the Church lives out the the truth that faith and reason are not at all opposed. No joke. Really! Not opposed! What's amazing is that the awesome things academics love about western civilization, like science, reason, debate, rational inquiry, the university system (and even some healthy skepticism), were all inspired by Catholics living their Catholic faith in the Middle Ages! 😀

        July 19, 2013 at 12:03 am |
        • Colin

          People of all religions have contributed to the acc.umulated knowledge of the World today. Does that thereby validate the doctrines of all of them?

          Secondly, until very recently in history, there were virtually no atheists. Of course the vast majority of intellectual acheivements were by religious people, as they made up 99.9999% of the population. That is irrelevant to the accuarcy of their religious views.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          No atheists in Socrates time? Seems odd doesn't it?

          July 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • Imagine No Religion

      Exactly, WD!

      In 1966, John Lennon gave his famous "bigger than jesus" interview which included the statement, "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that. I'm right and I will be proved right." That's a prophetic statement which is coming true right before our eyes.

      One of these days, all humanity will realize that the only way we can "give peace a chance" is to eliminate religion from this planet, for it is the most divisive con job ever perpetrated. That day cannot arrive soon enough!

      -–
      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." - John Lennon

      July 18, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • Lycidas

        "That's a prophetic statement which is coming true right before our eyes."

        It's only true when it happens. Poor Johnny still has a few billion people to go before he is ever proven true.
        But heck, if you want to believe in his good judgement..you go for it. After all, he thought Yoko was a good idea.

        July 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
        • Imagine No Religion

          What part of the words "coming true" did you not understand? It means "in the process" of happening, not that it has happened. Don't twist my words into something which they aren't.

          And in typical xian fashion, you leveled an unnecessary personal attack against Mr Lennon and his wife.

          Loser.

          -–
          "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
          Now that I found out, I know I can cry." - John Lennon

          July 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • Lycidas

          "And in typical xian fashion, you leveled an unnecessary personal attack against Mr Lennon and his wife."

          I'm not "xian". What? You thought my comment wasn't meant to be good? You think Yoko was the best thing for Johnny right?

          July 18, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
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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.