Pope Francis: Atheists Can Go To Heaven And Priests May Be Able To Marry

230px-Pope_Francis_in_March_2013Since his elevation to the head of the Catholic faith, I have become a fan of Pope Francis — a pontiff who has become truly revolutionary in his faith and his lifestyle. As someone raised in the Catholic Church, I have never seen his equal. He has washed the feet of a Muslim female prisoner, declined the pomp and formality of past popes, and remained a humble priest in his lifestyle. Now, Pope Francis has written a long letter to a non-Catholic saying that he believes that even atheists can go to heaven and that God cares more about your heart than your profession of religion. At one time, such views would have gotten you burned at the stake. Even today, conservatives in the Catholic Church, like those associated with Opus Dei, are grumbling about this new Pope. Mark recently discussed the same view of the Pope on non-believers and now there is a report of a possible consideration of dropping celibacy for priests.

What is interesting is to see the continued effort to make Pope John Paul a saint when Pope Francis may be the most truly revolutionary man to ever hold that religious office. In his letter to the founder of La Repubblica newspaper, Eugenio Scalfari, Francis stated that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences. He said “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. . . . Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”

It is a remarkably tolerant and enlightened view of faith at a time of extreme orthodoxy and religious intolerance. It is all the more remarkable given the increasingly antagonistic language directed against non-believers. There is obviously a rising concern among political and religious leaders that faith is declining in society. Thus, even though the non-religious is now a majority in places like England, politicians are ratcheting up such rhetoric. The Pope’s words are in stark contrast to those of people like Tony Blair with his comparisons of atheists and agnostics to terrorists.

The Pope’s reforms also now include the possibility of allowing priests to marry — a major change in religious doctrine. Italian Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s second-in-command, told Venezuela’s El Universal newspaper that celibacy is not dogma. As such, it is not unchanging divine law. Many have argued for years that marriage could bring a broader array of people to the priesthood and reduce the sexual scandals that have plagued the church.

193 thoughts on “Pope Francis: Atheists Can Go To Heaven And Priests May Be Able To Marry”

  1. Dumbass David,

    It’s not a straw man. I provided examples of what moralizing by law can lead to, which is what you think we should do by seeking to deny homosexuals equal rights and equal protection under the law. You’re still using all the muscles but the important one. I didn’t materially misrepresent your position so I could attack it. I showed some real life consequences of what kind of monstrosity is possible when you use subjective values like morals as the measure of law instead of objective values like ethics.

    That you’re not smart enough to tell that isn’t a straw man but rather an attack on your way of thinking (such as it is) is your problem, not mine.

  2. Randy,
    Correct on gays in the military. I am glad DATD was repealed in time to salvage the professional career of one of the best F-15 pilots in the Air Force before too much damage was done. Perhaps one day he might even be the first openly gay man to wear a star on his shoulder. As we all know, there have been flag rank officers who were gay or lesbian, but they were in the closet at the time.

    It has been my great honor to know at least one of the Tuskegee Airmen. One afternoon I was cleaning bug juice off the nose of the Skymaster. There was a pretty little Cessna 140 tied down next to mine but didn’t know who owned it. That afternoon, this elderly black gentleman was polishing the plane (which looked like a newly minted silver dollar). He got through with what he was doing, and came over to my plane and started polishing the other side of the cowling without saying a word. After a few minutes of working in silence, just two guys cleaning and polishing an airplane, I stuck out my hand and introduced myself. We chatted for a few minutes about flying, when he pointed out that I had not yet put the recently required placard on the outside of the plane with the serial number on it. He said he owned a trophy shop and would make a placard for me. Next time I was at the airport, I saw the little engraved metal plate stuck to the plane above the door. As I got to know him better, I learned he had been a P-51 pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen. Decorated veteran, DFC and Air Medal, but when he got home he couldn’t stay at motels or eat at a lunch counter. He was not bitter, just sad.

    Shorly after WW2 ended, Capt. Daniel Inouye went in a barbershop looking for a haircut, his empty sleeve pinned up regulation style. This Medal of Honor soldier was ordered out of the barbershop as the barber told him, “We don’t cut Jap hair.” I assume that later in life, Senator Inouye was able to get haircuts without too much difficulty.

    As for signs and the force of law, David was talking about signs, which include churches, bars, restaurants and the like. Many of those signs lingered on for years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Hopefully, one day there will be no more signs like that anywhere, aimed at anyone or any group.

    1. I was all in favor of DADT because all it required was that one be discreet about ones sex life which is not the business of anybody but the parties involved. When a gay was revealed through no action of their own, they should not have been punished even under that policy. Unfortunately, that was not the case in most instances. So while I did not mourn the passing of DADT, I think it was not too bad an idea, but it did lead to abuses which are finally laid to rest with the current policy. There may well be abuses under the new policy as well, so bad policies are not confined to just one side or another.

      I would really have loved to meet a Tuskegee pilot and had a chance to talk with him about his experiences flying. So far I have been unable to make the pilgrimage to Tuskegee, but that is definitely on my bucket list. I did read Davis’ autobiography which is an excellent book and I recommend it to any and all. I found out that he died when I was at a Blue Angels final show at PNS when I was flying for the Delta Connection. I pulled into the gate, and had a rental car lined up, and drove directly to the base for the show. I was still in uniform, and as I got there, I ran into some other airline pilots who were black and former Naval Aviators. They were having a reunion of black aviators that weekend, and they invited me into the reserved area for VIPs. So I got to watch the show from that area and got to meet the wing commander. While I was talking to a black woman UPS pilot, she told me that Davis had died recently, and I had missed the notice in the news. He was a great man to have endure so many trials and combat. I got to return the favor next morning since I had the early morning run back to MCO and the plane was pretty empty with many open seats. The gate agent asked how many jumpseaters I could take, and I told them as many empty seat were available. There were about 20 of those pilots wanting to jump, so it was a real pleasure to greet them as they came onboard, and I had a big pile of jumpseat forms on the console. It was nice to be able to return their favor.

      As for the signs, what happened to Inouye was and is illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1965, so such signs are in fact illegal for businesses open to the general public. Private entities which are not open, can post whatever limits and restriction they care to. I agree that such signs are not exactly in keeping with the tenets of Christianity as I understand it.

  3. David,
    “It is like readers are carefully scrutinizing every word I say so that they can point their finger of judgment at me and yell BIGOT!”
    You wish.

    No, you’re much more considerate than that. We need not scrutinize every word.

    You proudly advertise your bigotry. A mere glance at your posts is sufficient. That’s all I have the stomach for.

  4. As for the spread of AIDS in Africa, and elsewhere all you need is one really promiscuous person to have high numbers or, like the old shampoo commercial, one person gave it to another who then unknowingly gave it to another and so on and so oon and so on.
    And then of course there are those folks who got it from a heterosexual relationship (but I guess that is okay, even if you give someone AIDS or STD’s because it isn’t that horrendous thing, gay sex, oh wait, maybe its heterosexual sodomy which is still illegal in many paces. Or maybe the person received a blood transfusion and got AIDS that way.
    (I was in the hospital in 1980. It was not until 1985 that I received a letter form the hospital informing me I needed to be tested “as someone who had received blood product.”) By the time people know often it is too late because it has already been transmitted. (I did not have it, thankfully)
    David, sometimes you just have to say ‘I am going to hold on to my ridiculous bigoted and prejudiced position regardless of anything others have to say that proves my position(s) to be wrong’.

  5. OS, late in seeing your comment (no pun intended. honestly). lol

    If I recall David said sometime back in another post tht he had been in numerous confrontations with gays. Probably because he said some of the silly things he has said here.

    “However, I think the problems are a result of sexual promiscuity and hedonism so that the governmental stamp of approval for sexual immorality”

    I have always felt that the promiscuity if the gay population, at least that reported in the news for so many years – but then the news reports the uncommon not the common or it wouldn’t be news) is at least in part a result of the inability to be married and in years past the inability to be able to show in public your affection for someone of the same sex.

    David, as has been said, me thinks you protest way too much.

  6. David,

    Thanks for providing the article about the 40%. However, you need to really do your homework on this one.

    The article states that over a 2 year period, 20,000 people have been treated. This 20,000, according to the article, represents only 20% of the HIV/AIDS population, being treated. Hence, another 80,000 HIV/AIDS Botswanaians have not been treated.

    Did you know that over a 2 year period (during the time of treatment), 2002-2004, according to the WHO and the UN, the population of Botswana hovered around 1.5 million people?

    Now, let’s do the math: 100,000 is only 6.6% of 1.5 million.

    Someone is not being truthful about the 40% estimate? Do organizations, government agencies or departments, etc. inflate their numbers in order to recieve additional funding? Sure. It happens all the time.

    David said: “Although I have no proof that gay marriage will lead to these things….”

    Please stop David. Just Stop.:(

  7. Clearly, Darren, giving someone of the same sex an orgasm is much worse than killing someone. Personally, I’ve never thought of orgasms as a bad thing. I’ve never met one I didn’t like.

  8. Many churches claim that they can forgive the sins of felons, murders, adulterers, jaywalkers, etc and welcome them into church but gay people: fire and brimstone. What’s up with that?

  9. Like a dull knife, you just ain’t cuttin’, David . . .


    BTW, “For most people, if gay sex is all okay, then there is hardly any kind of human sexual activity that is not okay.” is a gigantic example of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    Causality is a concept that also seems to elude you.

    For most people with any ethical sense whatsoever, sex between consenting adults is the business of the parties engaging in said sex and no one else. Why? Because it causes no specific harm. If the gal living next door to me wants to dress as Batgirl and spank other women? It does not steal my property, break my leg or drive me insane. It is, in fact, none of my damn business. What they choose to do is consensual and so long as the consent is valid and no other laws are broken, it’s a private matter. It only becomes my concern if they ask me to participate. To which I have the free will to respond “no, thank you, I’ll not be party to any such shenanigans” or “should I dress as Batman or arrive au natural?” What they do, unless they invite me into the relationship, has no effect on me whatsoever. It neither encourages me to do something I’m not willing to do nor does it undermine the choices I make on how to live my life. My choice is mine.

    Just so, what other consenting adults do within the privacy of their interpersonal sexual relationships is none of your business. And what you do in your interpersonal sexual relationships is none of their business. Say you wake up tomorrow and decide that instead of denying who you are, you want to go out and find some big strapping manly man to pin you to the sofa like a bug in an entomological display. Whose business is that? The one and only correct answer is “you and your new boyfriend”. Your choice is your choice.

    But when you place yourself as the arbiter of sexual morality – which again I remind you is a subjective moral judgement and not an objective ethical standard – then you are seeking to limit the choice of others in how to live their private lives.

    Self-determination is a critical concept in the study of civil and human rights. You can decide how to live your life all you want. You have no right whatsoever to decide for them how others live theirs. Your rights end where the rights of others begin. If what they do causes you no specific harm? It’s none of your business. End of story. Your approval is not required.

    You are way out of bounds playing the sexual morality police.

    You want to talk about a danger to civilization? That kind of behavior right there is a prime danger to any society. For example, I think Bron’s morality is wrong headed and based in a false and faulty ethic, and while I may criticize him for it, if you wanted to tell him Objectivism is against the law and he should be treated like a second class citizen because you don’t agree with how he chooses something inherently critical to self-determination like his choice in operational principles? I’d be up in your grill over that too. I don’t approve of Bron’s choices, but I defend his right to make them – no matter how bad I think they are both personally and for society – so long as they don’t lead him into creating a specific harm to others. But having a “morality police”? Does lead to specific harms. Specific harms such as seen in Africa where zealots have taken to using the force of law to impose their sexual morality upon others. Examples from a recent Amnesty International report:

    UGANDA: A bill originally calling for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” was re-tabled in February 2012. “Aggravated homosexuality” includes engaging in gay sex three times or while HIV-positive. The bill would also punish Ugandans who fail to turn in homosexuals to the authorities. President Obama called the bill “odious” in 2010. Its author has since said the death penalty provision has been removed.

    LIBERIA: Lawmakers introduced two bills in 2012 that would strengthen existing anti-gay provisions in the criminal code. A bill banning same-sex marriage was unanimously passed in the Senate but has yet to be taken up by the House of Representatives. A bill in the House of Representatives is broader, and includes a provision banning the “promotion” of gay sex. The bill has yet to be voted on.

    MALAWI: Just days after Clinton’s December 2011 speech, Malawi’s justice minister said the government would review anti-gay legislation “in view of the sentiments from the general public and in response to public opinion regarding certain laws.” Last November, the government said it would suspend implementation of the current law imposing maximum prison terms of 14 years against men engaged in same-sex sexual conduct. Women charged under the law face prison terms of up to five years. However, the government later denied issuing the statement.

    NIGERIA: The House of Representatives last month passed a bill imposing 14-year prison terms for gay marriage. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Anyone taking part in a group advocating for gay rights or anyone caught in a “public show” of affection also would face 10 years in prison if convicted by a criminal court. The Senate passed the same bill in November 2011, one week before Obama’s memorandum was signed.

    CAMEROON: Officials in Cameroon have continued to pursue prosecutions under a penal code provision that carries prison terms of up to five years for gay sex. Rights groups say Cameroon arrests, prosecutes and convicts more people for homosexuality than any other country in Africa, although they say the evidence in such cases is often weak. Evidence cited in recent cases has included effeminate clothing and text messages.

    Prison or death for simply being gay or a friend to homosexuals is a very specific harm. A harm caused by using a subjective moral standard as a basis for laws which when properly formulated are based in objective ethical standards. Such as the natural and humanist views found in “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Please note that “their Creator” is not “the fundamentalist Christian God” or any other specific religious figure but a reflection of the implied self-deterministic ideal to have a religion of your choice as in accord with your liberty and your pursuit of happiness and as later enshrined in the 1st Amendment.

    Yeah, society faces some threats, but “teh gay” ain’t one of them.

    You can’t say the same about moralizing busybodies.

    They present a clear and present danger to an ethical rule of law and a dangerous shift to the moralistic rule by law.

    Keep your morality out of others lives, David.

    It’s unethical.

    1. Gene H – What is this straw man fallacy you keep resurrecting? Where have I sought for the government to make certain sexual choices illegal? Nowhere. I argue for more government neutrality. Public policy should not take sides in religious arguments about sexual morality. Public policy should not make one person’s position about the value of sexual morality illegal and enshrine the hedonists position as noble. If you like, carry on with your fighting the windmills of your imagination.

  10. You want a sign David? OK. Because of WordPress limitations, I can only post two links in a comment. These are signs in front of churches:



    I am old enough to remember church signs that said “No coloreds.”

    1. OS Normally I agree with you, but on this one you are mistaken since the signs you see do NOT have the force of law as did the signs mandating segregation. There is no law against any private group being selective about who may join it. Any church has that right. Now as david has pointed out if there were signs for homos and straights in public facilities, then you might have a point.

      In fact, the legal restrictions on gays, have been destroyed by the Lawrence ruling which I think even david would applaud. As Peter Camejo used to say about the links between free speech, and laws against discrimination., we are in favor of any bigot to express his hatred, but the line is drawn at putting that hatred into action that affect the concerned persons. In short, it is quite legal, and I support the right of bigots to express their views, but the line is drawn when they try and commit criminal acts or act in a public venue that discriminates. It is quite evident that gays are now far more free than at any time in our history. So to try and claim that they are oppressed and discriminated against simply flies in the face of reality.

      The case of the Air Force pilot it seems to me to prove the opposite since it is evident from all the facts, that a gay man either tried to blackmail him, or make him into a cause for gay liberation. Either way, there is no more restrictions on gays in the military now.

      1. randyjet wrote: “on this one you are mistaken since the signs you see do NOT have the force of law as did the signs mandating segregation. There is no law against any private group being selective about who may join it.”

        Thank you for some clear logical thinking. What a breath of fresh air!

        Darren wrote: “Many churches claim that they can forgive the sins of felons, murders, adulterers, jaywalkers, etc and welcome them into church but gay people: fire and brimstone. What’s up with that?”

        Good question, Darren. They are a bunch of confused hypocrites who pick and choose which “sins” are forgivable and which are not. What malarkey to say “All Are Welcome” and then footnote it with “No Homo.” Disgusting. I would have a lot of fun walking into that church and giving the priest and congregation a piece of my mind about their sign.

  11. DavidM:

    That Fehrenbach guy raped another human being and OS didnt mention it?

    He probably didnt know about it.

    I am sure he would think differently about the case had he known. From his many posts here, I am pretty sure he is against forced sexual relations.

    But can you please provide evidence so that we can all see and not just take your word for it.

  12. David:

    You might consider also that the reason there might have been the segregated lunch counters, water fountains, etc for whites and “coloreds” was because there had been a centuries old system of racism in those areas that fostered that society back then to tolerate or support the subjugation of black people and there was almost nothing to stop it from getting worse.

    If the system becomes such that a “homo water fountain” or “homo lunch counter” becomes common place it will be the result that began with people treating gay folks as second class citizens and spiraled unchecked upward until a terrible situation is fostered, akin to what black folks here had to endure for far too long. The key is to prevent such things at the beginning. And repressing gay people is one of the first steps toward dehumanizing them and preventing them from enjoying the same liberty in society as everyone else does. That is why discrimination and demonizing any class of people can lead to some very bad ends.

  13. David,
    I don’t think you really realize who you have been arguing with. Perhaps superficially, but not fully comprehending. Gene, for example, is a constitutional scholar with a background in philosophy and logic. I am a logician and psychological profiler. We have scientists, lawyers, law enforcement officers like Darren, gays and transgender commenters participating in this discussion. All of whom know far more about the issue than you, because they come at the legalities and social science with logic rather than emotion and repressive neuroses.

    Have a nice day. I have work to do.

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