Likely to enhance his progressive reputation

The pope is getting pats on the back and kisses on the bum for patronizing atheists and telling us we’ll be “forgiven” by his imaginary friend as long as we grovel and mewl and puke first.

Not going to happen, Frank. Not interested. It’s your fantasy, not mine, and I don’t give a damn what your pretend boss is imagined to think of me.

In comments likely to enhance his progressive reputation, Pope Francis has written a long, open letter to the founder of La Repubblicanewspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, stating that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences.

That’s progressive? Gee, lower your expectations much? What’s progressive about that? It assumes atheism requires to be “forgiven” and that non-believers give a fuck about god’s “forgiveness” in the first place. That’s the opposite of progressive; it’s backward-looking.



  1. Al Dente says

    If Frank’s god exists, then he needs to get my forgiveness for his genocides, misogyny, narcissism, and all-around immorality. I’m not impressed by the sadistic bully that Frank worships and if he does exist then I’m not inclined to worship him.

    It amazes me that people not only think Frank’s god exists but that a perverse, oppressive sociopath is worthy of worship. Don’t the Christians even read their own propaganda?

  2. Jason Dick says

    Well, it is progressive compared to the previous church stance. But that’s really not saying much. At all.

  3. says

    Hrm. ‘Long as we follow our consciences, huh?

    Now that you mention it, my conscience mostly says this charmer should be in jail for his role in the great child-abusing-clergy shuffle.

    But I’m prepared to offer the old sleaze an olive branch. Kind of him to burble on about this ‘forgiveness’ bumpf. So, hey, in kind: if he will admit he’s been full of it about the goddy stuff for the last forever, and that he’s actually a closet unbeliever, mostly just in this thing for the awesome wardrobe that goes with the office, I guess… umm…

    Well, no, actually, I guess he’d still pretty much belong in jail all the same.

    It’d be a nice gesture tho’. I guess.

  4. says

    While this doesn’t matter to atheists in terms of their likely nonexistent afterlife and other supposed bennies grantable by a being/force for which there is no evidence, it’s very interesting in that the pope is basically saying his predecessors and his institution’s past claims are seriously full of shit.

  5. ludicrous says

    “non-believers give a fuck about god’s “forgiveness”

    I hope this is not too off topic but this bugs me for a long time and I never see it mentioned.

    When an atheist uses the term ‘god’ without a qualifier as in ‘imaginary god’ it seems like we give the believers their framing. Seems to me at least using ‘a god’ would be better.

    So I propose using a term closer to the actual status of what we are referring to. I thought of ‘faerie’, ‘sprite’ ghost’, ghoul, goblin. I like goblin it starts with go so to change god to goblin as you type you only have to backspace one letter.

    “non-believers give a fuck about a goblin’s forgiveness”

  6. grumpyoldfart says

    Check out his June 29, 2013, encyclical letter (Lumen Fidei) where he says that atheists cannot tell the difference between good and evil; they are running around in circles; their good works cannot be regard as truly good, and their efforts are futile.

    Section 3
    Slowly but surely, however, it would become evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future; ultimately the future remains shadowy and fraught with fear of the unknown. As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.

    Section 19
    Such people, even when they obey the commandments and do good works, are centred on themselves; they fail to realize that goodness comes from God. Those who live this way, who want to be the source of their own righteousness, find that the latter is soon depleted and that they are unable even to keep the law. They become closed in on themselves and isolated from the Lord and from others; their lives become futile and their works barren, like a tree far from water.


  7. Al Dente says

    grumpyoldfart @9 (quoting the Pope)

    Such people, even when they obey the commandments and do good works, are centred on themselves; they fail to realize that goodness comes from God.

    But Frank’s god isn’t good. According to Frank’s cult’s own propaganda, their god is an immoral asshole. No, I cannot reconcile Yahweh being the fount of goodness with Yahweh not being good himself. Yahweh kills people just because he can. He sets up victims to fail and then punishes them for failing. He punishes people for other peoples’ failings. Yahweh is anti-good.

    Maybe I’m centered on myself, but at least I admit I’m not perfect (unlike Yahweh) and I strive to be better (again, unlike Yahweh). I’m a much better moral model for me to follow than Frank’s god.

  8. Claire Ramsey says

    I don’t even know what this stuff means. It’s completely delusional. And I just now finished reading an essay by a woman who is joyful because she has been accepted by the Bishop to be appointed a “Consecrated Virgin Living in the World” of the church . . . the absolute height of delusion.

    What is wrong with this picture.

  9. Pieter B, FCD says

    Grumpyoldfart—I resemble that pseud—beat me to it. Lumen fidei was downright insulting. Pass-a-dena.

  10. says

    This pope is a bullshit artist (atheist), the last two were sincerely deluded. He knows the minute he tries to enact real reform he’ll be murdered for it. He’s still a coward though; shouldn’t atheist Popes have their own secret societies by now in order to enact completely radical reforms? Like some crazed cabal of terrorists ready to do in the conservatives and traditionalists by drawing daggers at Vatican 3.

    /puts on some popcorn and watches her own movie.

  11. aziraphale says

    So, the consensus seems to be that the Pope is at fault for continuing to believe in and worship his god. While he does that, no words of conciliation or respect from him towards atheists have any value. Have I got that right?

  12. oursally says

    Well, we have the transition from wanting to burn us alive followed by watching us burn dead to – well, carry on unbelieving. I think this is definitely better.

    That Francis chap is certainly more interesting than his recent predecessors. Maybe he even believes what he preaches – still no extravagant couture, still no popemobile, still eating with the masses. If he doesn’t watch out his colleagues will have him removed – I gather they’ve got form.

  13. Jesse M. says

    Thanks for the quote, grumpyoldfart.

    According to the encyclical letter dated June 29, 2013, Pope Francis believes “it is impossible [for those who have long accept only the light of autonomous reason] to tell good from evil”. In other words, those who become rationalist atheists and remain that way for a long time have lost their conscience. Then, in his letter to the founder of La Repubblica, Pope Francis says, “God’s mercy has no limits […] the issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.” I can see how he thinks that would be an issue, since he believes that long-term rationalist atheists have lost their conscience.

    Of course, he put much time and space between the two statements so that many people would not see what is logically entailed when you put the two statements together. Because people do not see the entailment, he is receiving their praises for having said that nonbelievers can get forgiveness. Pope Francis insulted their intelligence and was apparently right to do so. Pope Ratzinger, on the other hand, would have at least had the decency to express his beliefs using language that is plain and clear.

    I see nothing to praiseworthy here.

  14. sarah00 says

    I’m curious, what does the pope think we currently do? I don’t know about anyone else, but I try and follow my conscience whenever possible.

    One of the things about being an atheist is I can’t ask the big sky daddy to forgive me if I do something wrong, I have to live with the consequences. So it makes sense to do things that leave me with a good conscience and don’t leave me with a bad conscience.

    I feel a bit sorry for Catholics. There they are, going to mass every week, confessing to the slightest sin, having more kids than they can afford because they aren’t allowed to use contraception, struggling and suffering to try and secure a place in heaven and avoid god’s wrath. Then along come these atheists and all they have to do is follow their conscience and they get forgiven for everything. Hardly seems fair!

  15. says

    @ 15 – no, you haven’t got that right. There are things he could say that would get my respect (to speak only for myself). That’s not to say the respect would be for him overall or for him as the boss of a horrible institution, but I could respect particular statements (or actions). I find this statement not respect-worthy, for reasons I indicated.

  16. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says


    I think aziraphale was talking about respect pope does/would supposedly show for atheists, not your respect of the pope.

  17. says

    Oh. Sorry if I got that wrong, aziraphale.

    But I was thinking of for instance Desmond Tutu saying he would prefer hell to homophobic heaven. The impressiveness of it is not in spite of his belief in god & hell but because of it. Its power depends on the fact that Tutu presumably believes god & hell are real. So in theory the pope could say something that retains goddy belief but is still morally impressive. He could, but I don’t expect it.

  18. maddog1129 says

    If the Pope thinks that human beings acting in accordance with conscience is all that is required, then he has just shot 2000 years of his religion in the foot. Or maybe the heart. Or the head.

  19. Pieter B, FCD says

    having more kids than they can afford because they aren’t allowed to use contraception

    For most Catholics, those days are long gone. Catholic and Protestant fertility rates in the US converged in the 1970s, and recent (US) research indicates that Catholic birth rates might be even lower than Protestants. Fertility rates are higher among those who identify as very religious, no matter which religion or sect thereof. Cite. The Church’s position on birth control holds little sway among most Catholics.

  20. says

    Oh, it’s so awfully nice of Frankie to allow us heathens into his heaven, just by following our consciences. If indeed he has — it’s not clear to me. Post Vatican II, the RCC has gone rather waffly about who, other than devout Catholics, is in God’s good books.

    But then that other quote rather spoils things, doesn’t it? Any good that I do is no good. Because I’m only doing it for me. Because only Frank & Co really truly understand morality and The Good. Or something.

    Which is exactly the kind of Orwellian argument that made me reject evangelicalism, finally, permanently and with some revulsion, a few decades ago now.

  21. sarah00 says

    Pieter B @24

    That may be the case in the states but what about Africa? I’m asking in all honesty, as I don’t know the church’s current position on condoms. I do remember a lot of talk about how they ‘don’t really stop AIDS’ and similar such erroneous statements, though that’s not to say they’ve stopped saying that and it’s just passed me by.

    I do find it funny that the the church’s position on birth control is so routinely ignored by Catholics. Though I suppose it’s all ok and god will forgive them because they decided to use contraception by following their consciences 🙂

  22. deepak shetty says


    While he does that, no words of conciliation or respect from him towards atheists have any value. Have I got that right?

    You really can have 1 of two mutually exclusive views.
    a. Only actions matter to God. Your beliefs dont. So if you are a good atheist/muslim/hindu/whatever you are more in favor to God than say a bad Christian.
    b. Your beliefs matter in some way. Worshipping the wrong God or no God deducts some points in God’s eyes.
    While the Pope believes in some version of b) , then yes for me he isnt showing any real conciliation or respect. He might be better than the previous Popes but really that doesnt say much. And if he switches to a) he is going to have to change his whole religion. Then his views have value and he would earn our respect. Note that doesn’t need him to give up a belief in God or even a Christian God.

  23. Pieter B, FCD says


    I believe that Pope Ratzi opined that condoms might be acceptable to stop the spread of disease, Holy Mother Church still forbids contraception. I would guess that in Africa the pressures to have large families are the same, regardless of religion, as they are anywhere in the developing world. (while looking up what Palpatine said about condoms I ran across some conservative Catholics playing the “what he meant was…” game, so the position on disease prevention is ambiguous at best)

  24. H. says

    @24, 26 and 28: In the Philippines, the Catholic church is doing everything they can to prevent the government from giving the poor access to even _information_ about contraception. In the Philippines, many people have no access to information about contraception and if htey have, they just cannot afford to pay for it.


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