Pope: Better to be atheist than bad believer

Pope Francis on Thursday criticized Catholics leading a "double life", such as those who assert they are "very Catholic" yet fail to pay their workers a fair wage.

On a typically busy morning at the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke at least twice on Thursday in ways that recognized the values of other religious outlooks while he promoted the faithful practice of Catholicism. "How many times have we all heard people say "if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist".

"But what is scandal?".

In unscripted remarks, the pontiff said, "It is a scandal to say one thing and do another".

In the Catholic Church, causing scandal also a grave offense.

Pope Francis has delivered an impromptu critique to members of his own church, suggesting it would be better for some to be atheist than Catholic. I went to Church, I was close to you, I belong to this association, I did this.

From those who lead double lives to others who run dirty businesses and stiff their workers, the Pope made it clear he didn't want the likes of these so-called Christians soiling his flock.

"Jesus talks, in the Gospel, about those who commit scandal, without saying the word "scandal, ' but it's understood: But you will arrive in heaven and you will knock at the gate: 'Here I am, Lord!' - 'But don't you remember?"

He then called on Catholics to examine themselves. "Don't you remember all the offerings I made?" He said: "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics". "'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists".

Then, as now, the Pontiff reinforced the concept that according to Jesus' teachings, the sin he condemned most was what most in the evangelical fundamentalist movement, including almost every Republican alive, are guilty of; rank hypocrisy, being "bad" Christians, or just being inherently inhumane to other people.

Francis has also engaged on topics concerning atheists on a number of occasions, and in a September 2013 interview with La Repubblica newspaper suggested that God's mercy extends to atheists as well.

  • Jon Douglas