Pope Francis, the man whose rhetoric is uplifting but whose actions have done little to improve the image of the Catholic Church, made a lot of sense during an impromptu sermon this morning. He was talking about the hypocrisy of so many religious believers.
“There are those who say, ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to mass, I belong to this and that association’,” the head of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic church said, according to a Vatican Radio transcript.
He said some of these people should also say “‘my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, [I lead] a double life’.”
“There are many Catholics who are like this and they cause scandal,” he said. “How many times have we all heard people say ‘if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist’.”
It’s a fair point. If you’re going to call yourself a Catholic but do things that make Catholicism look bad, the leader of the club would rather see you quit. But it’s unfortunate that the Pope limited his remarks to Catholics who aren’t are generous or kind as their faith suggests.
What about all those Catholics who understand the effectiveness of birth control? Who fight for women to be accepted in the upper ranks of Church leadership? Who don’t treat homosexuality like it’s some sort of disease?
The Pope opposes all of those things. If Catholicism has a bad reputation, it’s in large part thanks to his own beliefs.
Maybe the Pope should declare himself an atheist.
This isn’t the first time the Pope has references atheists in a positive, albeit backhanded, way. In 2013, he suggested atheists could be redeemed (if they came to Christ), but also added that even if they disagreed, we could all come together to do good.
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