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(RNS) In a world of heart-wrenching suffering, leaders from President Obama to Russia's Vladimir Putin often seem like helpless actors controlled by events rather than directing them. Pope Francis also risks that fate.


  1. The Pope has several problems. One of which is truly impossible to deal with.
    There very likely is no God, no Afterlife, no Heaven and no Hell and no ‘divine’ realm of any kind.

    Some wish for it, very strongly. They wish for a God; that He exists.
    But you cannot make it happen. Just like you cannot wish for 30 Million dollars and find it in your bank account tomorrow (though at least in theory that can actually happen – unlike God’s existence)

    Which means everything about the Church is fundamentally flawed. The whole idea is a blunder.

    God – very likely – isn’t there. And that destoys the workability of everything the Pope does. Because it means that the entire religion is a flawed philosophy – a manmade, human induced ERROR.

    • Then why are you even talking about God which for you “very likely isn’t there”? Most likely He is there in your mind, at least which may be why you can’t resist talking about Him in denial mode.

      • @laarni,

        You ask, ‘Why talk about it?’

        Because the Pope is immoral.
        And immorality is wrong.

        The ancient scribblings of a cult in Mesopotamia does not validate the immorality at the heart of the Pope’s teaching.

        • One antichrist to another yet the truth is not in you.

          Proverbs 23
          10 Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:
          12 Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.
          17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of יהוה all the day long.
          19 Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.
          23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.
          26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
          27 For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.
          29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?
          30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
          33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
          34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.
          35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

          • @Utility,

            If you are going to throw Fiction at me
            as your argument here’s some for you:

            “God? What does a starship need a god for?” – Captain Kirk

    • Atheist,

      When you say “no God, anykind”, you are denying the form of God that you know. As I am very sure of the existance of God, it seems your knowledge on God requires some update. The word God has been abstracted so much that it means different things to each individual to the point that we have so many Gods as the number of population! This is where we need some reference books or guidence from visionaries – like Mahathma Gandi who identified God as The Truth.

      Simply accept God as the the entire collection of all positive things on earth – that will solve your problem with God.

      • @Believer,

        Well, I stand corrected. Perhaps there is a God of some kind.
        But I reject all the claims I have heard so far.

        The only argument I keep hearing is the argument that says
        I must Fear and Obey this God – so why would I look for it?

        What need do I have to fear or obey something? I’m a grown up.

    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      Wow, it’s ‘old”Atheist Max”again, still shooting his mouth off, sounding as unhinged as ever! Off your meds again, huh Max? Poor baby. I have never seen a man sooo in love with his own opinions about something he’s demonstrated he knows nothing about than you, Max; if it wasn’t so pathetic it would be hilarious! And what’s this “very likely”doesn’t exist jargon? Hedging your bets, Maxie? Nah, don’t do that; you just come off as a fraud . The ” very likely”existent Almighty God will have more respect for you if you stand your ground. (He’s not a fan of the whole lukewarm thing, you understand. )–Keep ranting and raving, Atheist Max! You are very entertaining!!

      • @Laurence,

        As the Christian lobby shuts down your form of Christianity
        in preference to another, perhaps my rants against the disintegration of separation of church and state may not seem so unhinged in retrospect.

        Those religious people are against me. But they are against you as well.

        You have freedom to reject them….today.

        But they claim to KNOW what you do not know.
        They claim to KNOW everything about what GOD wants you to do.
        And that should scare the hell out of you.

      • @Jason,

        Where is the wisdom in your claim that god exists?

        Which Jesus-loving Calvinist Preacher would you like for your government theocracy?
        Which version of ‘god’ is the true version?

        “Bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King and Execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

        Or this gentler one?

        “Eat of my body and be baptized or be condemned to Hell” – Jesus

        Who is to say?
        And this is wisdom?

    • As far as I know, or have definite proof of, Athiest Max does not, or very likely does not exist. He/she is very likely a figment of someone’s imagination. I think that it is very likely that there is no certified record of an Athiest Max in existence.

  2. Brothers and sisters encourage each other to put your trust in the Lord.
    John 20
    28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

    29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

    Revelation 3:20
    20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

    Matthew 24:13
    13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

    • @Nrec,

      Putting trust and faith in the Lord is exactly how
      we became an irresponsible species and started referring
      our worst problems to an invisible, atmospheric air pocket called ‘god’.

      It is nonsense.

  3. “Mass on behalf of immigrants”

    In his book The Faith of Millions, John O’Brien, a Catholic priest, explains the procedure of the mass.
    “When the priest pronounces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of monarchs and emperors: it is greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim. Indeed it is greater even than the power of the Virgin Mary. While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders Him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man—not once but a thousand times! The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows His head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.”

    Yet the Mass is in direct contradiction to the Scriptures. Didn’t Jesus say He laid down His life of His own accord, only to take it up again? Jesus is no one’s victim. And as far as the priest, or the Pope, being able to bring Christ down, the Apostle Paul says in Romans chapter 6, “But the righteousness that is by faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven (that is to bring Christ down).” And concerning Jesus being sacrificed a thousand times, the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews chapter 10 tells us that Jesus was sacrificed once.

    The Pope doesn’t represent Christianity. He represents a religious organization that contradicts Scripture and teaches a gospel of works. Though the Scriptures teach in Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not by works so that no man can boast.”

    • @downtown Dave,

      I was disappointed to read your remarks. I, like more than a billion of my brothers and sisters, am a Catholic. I am also very much a Christian. I do not attempt to deny the authentic Christianity of my Protestant brothers and sisters. While I disagree with much of Protestant theology, I happily concede that Protestants, like Catholics, and indeed like all people of faith, are genuinely seeking truth and to do the will of God.

      Why do you feel the need to denigrate those of us who are Catholics? Why do you seek to divide us and separate us from the community of Christians. How do you think Our Savior would feel about your efforts to deny a billion of his followers the title of Christian?

      We clearly disagree about the Eucharist. In support of your position, you choose to cite a number of passages that have nothing whatsoever to do with the Eucharist. I choose to rely instead on Jesus’ own words at the last supper, most importantly, “Do this in memory of me.”

      As for faith versus works, it’s a tired, primarily semantic debate. Anyone who knows anything about Catholic theology understands that we, like you, believe that grace, and the acceptance of grace through faith, is an indispensable component of one’s salvation. Like you, we believe that no one can earn their way into salvation by virtue of their good works.

      The question that remains is whether one’s conduct plays any role in one’s own salvation. Jesus owns words make clear that it does. There is simply no reasonable way to read the Parable of the Rich Man (Matthew 19) or the Judgment of Nations (Matthew 24) otherwise.

      The interesting thing is that when people actually sit down and discuss the faith versus works debate reasonably (instead of accusing each other of heresy) they find that there is really very little daylight between them. Catholic and Lutheran theologans discovered this very thing a few years ago.

      In short, Dave, you and I believe in many of the same things. We are both searching for truth. We are both trying to know and love God as best we can. Instead of denigrating the faith of a billion other people, search for the common ground between us, which is substantial, and celebrate it.

      Pope Francis is a wonderful ambassador not just for Catholics but for all of Christianity. He is an exemplar for an authentic Christian life, and he inspires even non-Christians. Perhaps some day he will even remove the scales from Atheist Max’s eyes.

  4. @downtown Dave,

    You said, “The Pope doesn’t represent Christianity.”

    You Christians would go back to killing each other as you always have in the past
    Were it not for the Atheists and Deists
    who built the WALL OF SEPARATION between church and state.

    Be glad our current Catholic Supreme Court – which probably smokes a goat to please the Lord every Sunday in chambers (Exodus 29:18) – hasn’t yet outlawed your form of Christianity.

    Thanks to the Christian Right Wing we now have the most religious court in decades and you can be sure they would love to use the levers of government to outlaw YOUR Christianity.

    Religion is a cancer to democracy, a disease of the mind and just another useless philosophy to have wars over.

  5. Dear Max,
    I do not understand why the Holy Spirit pours out graces where he does, but I love our Catholic faith and it is the source of the greatest joy I have ever known. Jesus, through his Spirit acting right now, has taken my breath away with intimacy and comfort and sometimes humor! I pray that you might be able to experience the same thing now and for all eternity! God bless you in mind, body and spirit!

    • @Donna,

      As long as I have the right to call religion a delusion
      we will get along fine. Nobody is going to deny you your beliefs if that is what you want.

      My problem is the separation of church and state needs to be built up – not brought down. When religion blocks my rights – that is where I have problems.

  6. Pope Francis hates cats. He even forced Pope Benedict to give up his 2 pets in order to live in the Papal apartments.

    He could bring world peace tomorrow and I will still fault him for that.

  7. ATHEIST WARS, POGROMS, POLITICAL MURDERS in peace time: The assertion that more people were killed due to religion is absurd. Conquerors and other despots wanting land, gold, power, might use religion of the state to define who one’s enemy is, but it was greed and conquest from Caesar and Alexander to Hannibal and Genghis Kahn, Pol Pot and all others.
    Atheist murderers worthy of note due to numbers of the dead:
    Stalin: 61,000,000
    Chairman Mao: 78,000,000
    Nazis: 12,000,000

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