i'm sure i'll take some heat from this, but i'm going to make my argument anyway.  there's a lot to like about the new Pontiff.  if you've been paying attention you've probably heard most of his more noteworthy acts which have led him to Time's "person of the year" award.  i too think those are wonderful stories, and the man sure does walk the walk.  but there's another side to this that i think is relevant to the atheist community.  he's a walking and talking reminder to most Christians (especially those on the right) that they're doing Christianity wrong.  

many of us delight in pointing out how un-Christian many Christians act.  we love Ghandi's quote - "...your Christians are so unlike your Christ."  we post pictures of the "Republican Jesus" and delight in Bible thumping congressmen's hypocrisy.  but coming from us it has little effect other than confirming our own belief structure.  

but here comes the religious leader of the world pointing out just how far apart modern Christianity (especially Evangelicalism) is from Jesus' message.  and it's making them uncomfortable.  perhaps you've heard Rush Limbaugh calling Francis a marxist, or Sarah Palin saying that he says things "that kinda sound liberal", or Fox News editorial director penning an article entitled "Pope Francis is the Catholic Church's Obama - God Help Us".  

unlike our efforts to point to the insane amount of hypocrisy in modern Christianity, the Pope's efforts hold real sway.  he's got the world's largest bully pulpit.  and he's using it often and loudly.  

sure, he still supports church doctrine of all the silly stuff, but he doesn't seem to take that part too seriously.  i don't think it's a stretch to call him an ally in the fight against religious fundamentalism.  now if you're an anti-theist or yearn for the end to all religion then the Pope probably isn't your guy.  if anything, his efforts might actually create more Christians and bring lost Catholics back into the flock.  but this shouldn't really concern us.  me, i'm a realist who realizes that religion is here to stay, at least during my lifetime.  and since religion must exist, shouldn't we be pleased that Pope Francis is trying to make it a Church that focuses on works not ideology, on Jesus' message not dogma?  

Francis even makes my arguments with family better.  my Mom and her husband are both Catholics, so whenever they make some awful statement about the poor or minorities, i can throw "is that what the Pope would say?".  

on a final note, i'm very happy i have this platform to discuss this issue without the risk of being called a phony atheist or whatever.  i love Atheist/Nexus!

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that's fine, and i can imagine from your perspective i'm quite wrong.  but you misunderstand my thought process, somewhat at least.  it's not the i want religion to exist, but there's zero chance that it goes away anytime soon.  i wish the whole world would open their eyes and join us, and i'm very very happy that more and more are doing just that.  realistically though, it's here to stay so i'm pleased that Francis is trying to make it a more tolerant church that is focused on good works. 

this guy just can't stop talking to us:

“I invite even non-believers to desire peace,” Francis said from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to an enthusiastic crowd of 700,000. “Join us with your desire, a desire that widens the heart. Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.”

no, he can't convert me, but he is talking to us.  if he's asking us to join him and his religion in common cause against poverty, war, fundamentalism, judgement, etc. then he has an ally.  at least in me.   

he also recently stated that all religions are equally true, so long as they are cloaked in the pursuit of love.  more and more, he sounds like he thinks religion is bunk, even if he believes in a higher power and the message of Jesus.  i 've got no major problem with that.    

I will never love a criminal like Pope Francis. 

you sure you got the right Pope?

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