Pope: “It’s okay to be an Atheist”

Pope Francis met with media

Pope Francis met with media (Photo credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales))

Francis I, the new Roman Catholic pontiff, told an assembled crowd in Argentina yesterday that being an atheist is okay, as long as you do good.

He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists could be redeemed by Jesus.

“Even them, everyone,” the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. “We all have the duty to do good,” he said.

“Just do good and we’ll find a meeting point,” the pope said in a hypothetical conversation in which someone told a priest: “But I don’t believe. I’m an atheist.”

I neither want nor require anyone’s permission to believe what I do. That goes for Pope Francis, to be sure, but that also goes for the atheist and the anti-theist. Nonetheless, any day I hear someone whose belief system differs with mine say “I don’t believe what you do, but as long as you try hard to be a good person, you’re okay with me,” that’s a good day.

Tolerance rocks, and this step by the Pope should be applauded. One hopes that the entire Church adopts that view toward not only atheists, but all of us whose faiths differ from Roman Catholicism.

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