Pope Francis on When It Might Be 'Better to Be an Atheist'

He says Catholics are hypocrites if they don't treat their employees well
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2017 1:42 PM CST
Pope Francis on When It Might Be 'Better to Be an Atheist'
Pope Francis smiles during his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

"How many times have we all heard people say 'if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist,'" Pope Francis said Thursday while speaking of hypocritical Christians. Reuters reports the pope made the remarks while delivering an off-the-cuff homily during his private morning Mass. "It is a scandal to say one thing and do another," Pope Francis said. "That is a double life." The pope gave the example of a head of a failing company vacationing on the beach while his workers didn't receive their paychecks, according to USA Today. Pope Francis said Catholics can go to Mass and join Catholic organizations but are hypocrites if they don't pay their employees well, exploit people, or run their businesses dishonestly.

Pope Francis said these scandal-causing Catholics shouldn't have "excessive confidence" that God will forgive them. "On this the lord is very severe," he said. "Scandal destroys.” On the other hand, the pope has said even atheists can go to heaven, the Washington Post reports. He says atheists are good as long as they do good, and Christians should consider them as such. He says efforts to convert atheists are "nonsense." (More Pope Francis stories.)

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