Even atheists love Pope Francis

Dear brother Servant :slight_smile:

Great question! Very perceptive too.

From the dogmatic and doctrinal standpoint of the Faith, the “person” of the pope is quite irrelevant. The Holy Spirit, to uphold the integrity of the deposit of faith entrusted to the episcopacy and the Holy See, does not require a “saint” to verify the truth of Holy Mother Church and her sacred teachings. Indeed we have had some terrible popes in our history, such as the Borgia, yet the flower, beauty and light of the Faith has never waned but rather grew all the more brighter and brought more of suffering humanity under its warm embrace. The truth is sufficient in itself to act as the attraction.

Nevertheless, in the context of the modern world, having a Shepherd who practices what he preaches and acts as so potent an exemplar of its blessings as does Pope Francis is indispensable. His actions, highlighted in world media channels in every nation and before the full glare of the press and paparazzi, is more effective than a million apologetic tracts and treatises in revealing to mankind the “splendour of the truth”.

Did not Baha’u’llah suggest the same when he noted in the Tablet to the Pope, “O concourse of bishops! Ye are the stars of the heaven of My knowledge”. In other words, religious leaders must be exemplars to their flocks.

Such people brighten up our world and fill human hearts with hope. The Shepherd of the Catholic Church, more than any religious leader on account of his position as the Father of 1.1 billion human beings and heir to a nearly 2,000 year old line of succession which is the most illustrious apostolic church in all of Christendom, should be the first to fall into this category, no? :wink:

William Sears, one of the late Baha’i “Hands of Cause” noted this in one of his books in reference to a past Pope who was very much like Francis, Blessed John XXIII (whom Francis will canonize a saint next year):

In the exact year and exact month of the one hundredth anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s Declaration to the world proclaiming that the sacred promise in all the holy Books had been fulfilled. **Pope John XXIII issued His Encyclical Letter which “received world wide acclaim.”

The praise was justified**. Not only did the Encyclical deal with the problems facing the world, but Pope John himself was a true lover of his fellow man, a saintly human being. In that Encyclical, the Supreme Pontiff spoke of the following subjects:

World peace
A world community
Search after truth
Universal education
Equality between men and women
The oneness of mankind
The oneness of God
The harmony of science and religion
A warning concerning atomic energy
A spiritual solution to the economic problem

Do these ideas sound familiar?

They are one and all principles of the Baha’i Faith.

They are Teachings and Counsels which Baha’u’llah gave to the kings and religious leaders of the world over a century before the Pontiff finally spoke out, exactly one hundred years afterward. How powerfully those words of Baha’u’llah, spoken so long ago, to a Pope in Rome, now ring through the halls of history after a century: “0 Supreme Pontiff! Incline thine ear unto that which the Fashioner of moldering bones counselleth thee.”

Pope John XXIII, because of his sincere love of humanity, and his wise guidance to a troubled world, received the Nobel Prize for peace. He was admired and lauded in all parts of the world by both public and press.

… He had done no more than to share with mankind ideals which had been denied to the world for a century by the leaders of men, both religious and secular.

This was from his book, “The Prisoner and the Kings” chapter 14. (Yes, I’m familiar with a great deal of Baha’i literature :smiley: ). Now, as a Catholic I can’t quite agree with his interpretation of Pacem en Terris and the origins of all those precepts, nevertheless Bill Sears made an excellent point about the impact that religious leaders such as John XXIII and Francis can have, for which I appreciate his input.

So from a doctrinal/dogmatic perspective: the “person” of the pope is of no or little consequence. It is the role occupied that is crucial.

But from another vantage point, it is a blessing and gift from God that can have massive reverberations and cause many to re-asses their biases, prejudices and preconceived ideas about the Catholic Church as well as influencing the world positively in general such as erasing barriers between atheists and Christians, aiding dialogue around common areas of agreement and our common humanity.

Indeed the example of Blessed Pope John XXIII is useful in this respect, since in the midst of the Cold War in 1963, his encyclical Pacem en Terris (Peace on Earth) was published in full in Pravda the official newspaper of the Soviet Union. It was the only official document by a religious leader ever to be published and distributed throughout the Soviet territories.

In 1963, Pier Paolo Pasolini - a well-known Italian atheist, homosexual and Marxist - begin his film that year with an announcement that went “dedicato alla cara, lieta, familiare memoria di Giovanni XXIII” (“dedicated to the dear, joyous, familiar memory of Pope John XXIII”), because he had passed away that year.

Therefore, Pope John XXIII initiated a dialogue and unity between Catholics and atheists that had before been unthinkable.

Pope Francis is doing just the same, as typified by his interview with a prominent atheist journalist with whom he has developed a friendship.

As William Sears said in his book:

Baha’u’llah in no way sought to degrade or belittle the importance of the world’s religious leaders. Rather, He praised unreservedly those religious leaders whose actions and conduct conform to their words. He has said that:

“The guidance of men hath, at all times, been and is dependent upon these blessed souls.”

Of such a sincere religious leader, whatever his religion or denomination, Baha’u’llah has also written:

“The inmates of Paradise, and the dwellers of the sacred Folds, bless him at eventide and at dawn.”

Such spiritual giants, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or of any other religion are “as the spirit to the body of the world.” Baha’u’llah declares and “as an eye unto the world.”

Good question. You Bahai’s sure can come up with thought provoking questions and that is why perhaps threads on Bahai tend to get very long, (that is meant to be a compliment :)).

Well, some Popes are great and some are less so. Some Popes were instantly recognized as saints and some might go down in obscurity. Popes are individuals and thus each is unique.

I would not say it is a pope’s role to fulfill the desire and the hope of the world. That’s why you may see the reaction of Catholics here who reflect this thought. First and foremost, the Pope is the vicar of Christ on earth. In that he is the symbol of Christ Church and her leader, paraphrase mine. If people pin their hope on the person of the Pope, they won’t go far, no matter how good the person a pope is. But if they see the Pope as representing the visible Church of Christ, then that is a better approach, where the fulness of truth is to be found in her. In reality, and rightly so, it is always difficult to separate the two, because how can one be a leader of the Church and yet does not possess the character of Christ? And yet, by Jesus own word, the Papacy and the Church is protected by God from the onslaught and the attack of the Evil One and ultimately she prevails.

Thus the best thing that a pope can contribute to the whole world is to be steadfast to the teaching of the Church that he is entrusted to. In other word, he is the guardian of God’s truth no matter how formidable is the objection of the world to this truth. This is what most Popes had done but in doing so, they would be attacked and opposed by the world who holds fast to its value and philosophy. And they are always in conflict to each other, for the Lord said, as high as the sky is and so is my way which is different from your way. Christianity is not easy.

A good personality of the Pope does help, and least part of the battle is won by that as some non-Catholics have found out who are endeared to this Pope. That in itself is great thing to happen but like I said, time only will tell, what would these same people will say when this Pope has to necessarily make a candid stand on various issues of the world especially ones that are against the Church belief. Issues like culture of life, male priests, fidelity in marriages, birth control, same sex marriages, capital punishment, ecumenism, Mary’s role in the Church, and so on and so forth.

An excellent post. Deeply thought provoking :thumbsup:

I think the Pope is doing many of the things Bahaullah asked him to do in His Tablets (letters):

“O Pope! Rend the veils asunder… Leave thou the world behind thee, and turn towards thy Lord, through Whom the whole earth hath been illumined.”

“Dwellest thou in palaces whilst He Who is the King of Revelation liveth in the most desolate of abodes? Leave them unto such as desire them, and set thy face with joy and delight towards the Kingdom.”

“Arise in the name of thy Lord, the God of Mercy, amidst the peoples of the earth, and seize thou the Cup of Life with the hands of confidence. First drink thou therefrom, and proffer it then to such as turn towards it amongst the peoples of all faiths.”

Adorn ye your bodies [with jewels and expensive clothes] whilst the raiment of God is stained with the blood of hatred at the hands of the people of denial? Issue forth from your habitations and bid the people enter the Kingdom of God, the Lord of the Day of Judgement.”

“Exhort thou the kings and say: “Deal equitably with men. Beware lest ye transgress the bounds fixed in the Book.” This indeed becometh thee. Beware lest thou appropriate unto thyself the things of the world and the riches thereof. Leave them unto such as desire them, and cleave unto that which hath been enjoined upon thee by Him Who is the Lord of creation. Should anyone offer thee all the treasures of the earth, refuse to even glance upon them. Be as thy Lord hath been. Thus hath the Tongue of Revelation spoken that which God hath made the ornament of the book of creation.”

“Know that thy true adornment consisteth in the love of God and in thy detachment from all save Him, and not in the luxuries thou dost possess. Abandon them unto those who seek after them and turn unto God, He Who causeth the rivers to flow.”

A Jesuit is a certain order of priests. I don’t have time at the moment to explain in detail, but he is the very first historical pope to be of that order.

People are drawn to Pope Francis for the same reason that they were drawn to Francis of Assisi. He is authentic. One who truly puts flesh on the words of the Gospel and lives a Christ-like life is irresistible to the human spirit. Francis of Assisi was so Christ-like that he was crucified by a Seraphim angel and lived the remainder of his life with the five wounds of Christ. He had to be carried because of the pain in his feet.

We are just getting to know our new Pope Francis. His authenticity is already abundantly evident. It is a wonderful thing to be able to witness true holiness. What an example to the world.

Thank you, dear Lord, for this most wonderful Shepherd in these most trying times.

Amen, Amenn, AMENNN!!! :hug3:

I am not aware that atheist like any religious leader except for maybe Buddha but assuming arguendo they like Francis I would imagine it is due to his humility and message of compassion. For our brother Protestants and evangelicals I would imagine it is his simple message of spreading the Gospel without the focus on what they see as hyper legalism from the Church. Catholics are another matter all together since his statements and their media spin seem to set SOME Catholics hair on fire.

As for Servant19 question: Francis has said nothing that has not been said by other Popes but he is returning the focus to the evangelical roots of the Church and the simple message of the Gospels. Some hyper legalistic Catholics are confused and confounded by this but that is because they seem to be tone deaf and do not understand that the evangelical language of the Church is exactly like the language of evangelic-protestants which they wrongly believe is heresy(in the general sense not the specific). They also don’t seem to be able to abide a Pope that refuses to be diverted from evangelizing the Gospel by being duped by the secular world into endless fixation on homo-sodomy so call “rights” and abortion.

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