15 Things Atheists are Saying about Pope Francis


January 3, 2014 by mattfradd


Pope Paul VI, in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, wrote, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

Well people are certainly listening to Pope Francis and I don’t think anyone would disagree that it’s due to his incredible witness. (When Pope Francis embraced that man covered with tumors, the world changed!)

I’ve spent the past hour hunting down comments from atheists posted on secular news sites. Here are fifteen, though if I kept looking I’m confident I could have found 1000.


I’m an athiest and do not believe, but I love this new Pope, Pope’s are put on a pedestal and seem untouchable, this Pope, from the get go, has been a people person. You can almost feel the love radiating from him. So from one human to another, he shows such compassion and humility. Love him. – Sarah, England, UK.


I’m an atheist, but i believe he is a great example of how religious folks ought to be – Cort R


As an atheist (not speaking for all of them), I’m a huge fan of this pope. I think people need to find their own reason to be good to others. For some, it is god (whichever flavor he/she/it may be). Others find that they want to be good for other reasons. I’m just glad that the big C found a leader willing to try his best to not just preach to his crowd, but try to show them how.

On the other hand, some people use god as their excuse to be a d*ck. So I’m not sure if this is an example of the pope acting like a good god, but rather he is a good person and his faith only amplifies the goodness of his own character. – Wesley_Song


Left the church many years ago. Don’t believe in god mainly due to the Catholics and southern baptists is was raised around. This pope embodies the teachings of the church I actually liked. He’s pro something. He takes careof the less fortunate. Wonder what our nation wld be like if all the Catholics and baptists followed his lead and voted for people who cared about the poor?? Go ahead pope. Show the way – Cellstrom.


I don’t even believe in God. But, this guy, as a human being, just rocks. – Ironhand43


He’s setting a new standard for future popes to follow. I’m an agnostic, but this guy has truly awed me with his actions. So unlike other popes in my lifetime (even JP2, who seemed okay to me). – Rob_Cypher


I was raised Catholic but am now an atheist, but I’m growing to respect this man more and more. He’s actually following Christ’s teachings… imagine that! – Alex D


[In response to Alex D was this comment,] Me too! I am returning to the church because of this fine priest! – tau4444


A good person is good regardless of religion. I do believe this pope has actually publicly recognized this fact and for that (as an atheist) I applaud him. He seems a very good man. My respect for him grows by the day. – Marc T


As an atheist, let me say that I wish more people in general, religious or otherwise, followed this man’s example. The world would be a better place for it. – Thank4Watching


As an atheist, I’m impressed, I feel jaded about a lot of religions these days . . .
[but] it looks like this pope is making an effort to do some good in the world rather then take advantage of it. – Theoricus


I’m an Atheist, and even I have respect for this guy. If he can get Christians to actually act like christians, maybe I won’t have such an issue with “organized” religion. – John S


As an atheist, I’m officially changing my opinion of him from ‘admired’ to ‘loved’. This is precisely the “walking the walk” the world needs, especially from its religious population. – Michael Kirby


As an atheist this pope does many great things, I still disagree with the church as a whole but as a person this pope gets it. He is a great role model as a person not a living deity. – Vendictavis


I don’t believe in gods and myths, but this man is truly a man of his word and someone everyone could look upon as a role model. I just wish that more holier than thou types could be like this man, if so the world would be a better place.Walks what he talks. – Joe Bigg

The Best Argument For and Against Christianity is Christians

Whether we like it or not, I think it’s true. To quote Sheldon Vanauken:

“The best argument for Christianity is Christians: their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians–when they are sombre and joyless, when they are self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration, when they are narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.

Pope Francis is a good argument for Christianity, what about you? What about me?

Join The Discussion

How has Pope Francis inspired you?

Do you have friends or family members whose faith has been invigorated due to Pope Francis’ example?

21 thoughts on “15 Things Atheists are Saying about Pope Francis

  1. cducey2013 says:

    Interesting post, Matt. If so many people can get behind a pope who fervently lives Christ’s message, then I wonder if people can also get behind Christ’s message to start with. It seems like a number of these people like Pope Francis in a way of comparison to other religious people they know. They like him because he is new and different (I think in a very honest way). I am certainly a fan of Pope Francis, but I’m also a fan of many other religious people, and he doesn’t seem to be all that much different from them (he’s just even more humble and even more intelligent, in the way that made him pope). If people could recognize that this (i.e humility, helping the poor, etc.) is what Christianity is all about, I think there would be fewer people flashing their atheism like a badge of honor.

    On a side note, phrases like “As an atheist” which appears five times in these comments and “I’m an atheist” which appears 3 times, do something that is a little strange and probably unintended: they do more than identify a trait about a person–they claim membership in a larger group or creed. Notice the use of the indefinite article “a(n)” as opposed to “the” or even an entirely different phrasing all together (e.g. “I don’t believe in gods of myths). If you say “I am a(n) atheist / Christian / Democrat / dog owner” you’re not just saying something about yourself, as you’re also saying that you’re one of many atheists / Christians / Democrats / dog owners who share certain general beliefs and world views. It’s all about implied group identity. On the other hand, when someone just professes a singular belief rather than a group identity, they end up saying something more definitive, such as ” I don’t believe in gods or myths.” On the other hand, Jesus says something very definite things with “I am” statements, though they usually are followed by the definite article “the” (the way, the truth, the light.” But his most powerful “I am” statement was probably just the simple “I am,” harkening back to Exodus and the burning bush with God announcing “I AM.” As for me, the only “I am a” statement that I feel comfortable with saying is “I am a human being,” which avoids declaring other vague allegiances.

  2. Emily says:

    I think this is utterly ridiculous, since Pope Francis is not doing or saying anything different than Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul or any other Pope has done and said. So, for anyone to return to Church or to start believing in a God they did not believe in, and saying it is because of Pope Francis is silly. Obviously, these people did not pay any attention to Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul, or they would have returned to Church or believed in God long ago. Nothing new here, people. Really. Nothing. He’s saying the EXACT same thing that the other Popes have said. He may be saying it in a way you think sounds better, but it’s not new stuff. It can’t be, because it’s all Church teaching, which hasn’t changed that much.

    • Mike says:


      You may want to reconsider what it is that the church has always taught. I reflect on Matt 18:10-14 and ask if Jesus is not well pleased that Pope Francis has found even just one lost sheep?

      You also close with an implicit doubt in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. What the church has always taught is from the Rabboni, the ever present teacher; Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

      Do you mean to tell us that The Word has only changed just a little? God is constant and His Love is Incarnate, God with us, Immanuel. We must be the ones who change. His faithfulness is unchanging. His Covenant promise and His Kingdom shall not be taken away.

  3. Russell Weber III says:

    This may say more about pr and the media imaging, a lot of cabbage heads are swayed by the left wing media. Pope Francis by his actions seems like the real deal, unlike the son of satan, that is in the white house. I for the life of me can’t get how stupid a human being could be to be an atheist, yet I have a sister who is a Catholic grade school teacher, who is married to an atheist lawyer, and I’m 90% certain, he is also bisexual. She digs the money his family has, and turns a blind eye to his hell-bound lifestyle. I think unfortunately a great deal of white Americans and white Europeans drive by a church, and just see a building. I went to an all boys Catholic military school and in 1 religion class on Fridays, we went and toured different Catholic and Protestant churches in the St. Louis area, it was very interesting to say the least. I used to sell advertising for an ad agency that printed church bulletins, directories, school calenders, etc., and later became the trade sales manager and the building manager of the company. I started out going around the midwest and the south actually going to different cities and going to the parishes. i would frequently go into churches that my company didn’t print bulletins for to look for leads, and to take a tour of the church. To me a church is a house of God, and how could any human being with a thinking brain, be so dumb as to not get that the Holy Trinity is real, as is the Mother of God, Mary. Yet look how many sheeple admire and worship pop singers and junkie actresses that are whores of the devil.

    • Erika Garcia says:

      I get the fact that you might be a strong willed individual, but that by no means gives you the right to call people dumb or stupid based of the choices they make regarding their beliefs. Christ radiates love not the self righteousness attitude that you transmit.

    • Er, not saying my name. says:

      (After writing this whole comment below, I read your whole comment. Still gonna publish this for others to read.)
      I didn’t read your comment until the end, even though I’m great at wasting time on the Internet. I stopped when I read “I’m certain he is also a bissexual.”. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being bissexual. It’s something as natural as being heterossexual and it doesn’t mean you’re sinful. Some people think bissexual people are promiscuous, that they need to have both girls and boys, stuff like that. It’s obvious that is not true: just because you’re heterossexual doesn’t mean you need a partner, right? And being an atheist doesn’t make anyone stupid. I think it is stupid to grab catholicism because the Pope seems awesome or to believe in God without any doubts. I think many atheists don’t believe in God because they find no proof that a god exists. Is that dumb? And I’m sure there are plenty of intelligent atheists in the world, as well as righteous bisexuals.
      My parents are atheists, even though their parents were very religious. I can tell you they’ve got enough arguments to backup their beliefs, unlike many catholics I have met until now (my parents let me study in a catholic school, in spite of being atheists). My dad’s a very responsible judge who works so much my mom gets worried. He’s in his office all day. Both him and my mom are really honest people. What reasons does the fact that they’re atheists give you to hate them?
      One more thing: you think the devil exists? Ok, even if you don’t, let’s imagine that God exists without a shadow of a doubt. You think he would despise atheists, or pop singers, or actresses? I read adaptations of the Bible when I was young and it seemed to me that Jesus (who supposedly is the “son” of God) treated even prostitutes like equals. And he forgived pretty much any sinners, no matter how bad their sins were. If you’re truly catholic, why don’t you act the same way? Is it that you think Jesus’ or the Pope’s examples aren’t really to follow? Or maybe you believe more in the strict teachings of the Old Testament?
      Ok for anyone who is still Reading, (I can’t write Reading without a big “R”. How annoying.) I don’t know that much about the Bible and Religion classes in school weren’t all that informative. I’m not even catholic, even though I was baptized. I only don’t call myself an atheist because there are times when I believe God might actually exist (although I doubt this god is the way catholics picture him. I know many people see God as an old bearded guy.That seems pathetic when you turn your critical spirit on. Why a god instead of a woman? So many catholics would shiver with this suggestion. A goddess instead of a god? Blasphemy!).
      Can’t think of anything else to write. Oh, there are atheists out there who are way more intelligent than some religious people, as well as religious people who are more intelligent than some atheists. Same goes for other qualities or faults. And I’m portuguese. What you’d call a white european in my case, even though my skin’s olive. I mean, white europeans? Seriously? I must quote a brazilian musician called Chico Buarque (very good music), who once said there is no puré black, white, asian nor anything. Most people are a milkshake of all sorts of ethnicities nowadays. Who knows, I might have indians and blacks in my lineage. Portuguese people have been everywhere during Renaissance. And if I keep writing like this I might end up making a book. Sorry.

  4. Liz says:

    God writes straight with crooked lines. Even with the media bias misrepresenting Pope Francis — and the fact that he isn’t changing a darned thing — the Gospel is getting through by the pope’s actions. The prophets of the OT weren’t perfect, yet they were still mouthpieces for the Lord. Authentic Truth is too big to be constrained by human limitation.

    He may not be changing Church teaching, but he’s changing the way it’s represented (New Evangelization, anyone?). For example, for the first time, people are hearing that the Church doesn’t “hate gays,” but embraces those with same-sex attraction while reaffirming their special call to chastity. Also, he doesn’t denounce us pro-lifers, but he reminds us that a relationship with Jesus is what makes us Christian, not our principles on their own. Christianity is too big to fit into political debates.

    As for how he’s affected me — I’ve been pretty afflicted by some of the things he says! I mean that in the best way possible. Since June, I’ve done the Pope Francis-recommended end-of-the-day examination of where the Holy Spirit worked in my life. He said that Christians without the Holy Spirit can be religious, but will lack the vitality God wants for us. WOW! What a difference that makes.

    There are loads of other ways that he has posed spiritual challenges to his sheep, all of which can make a noticeable difference in our lives if we implement them. Probably the most challenging and fruitful one of all — a call to joy! He is an example of the joy the Lord wants for us. He encourages us to be brave, and to be at peace. (This isn’t to say that the other popes didn’t, but Pope Francis has his own unique style that gets through differently.)

  5. Phil says:

    There is something I do not get right now: On the one hand, a lot of Catholics see a strong continuity between Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. They claim that not even a small piece of paper fits inbetween them. On the other hand, the same Catholics rejoice if people tell (I am paraphrasing) “What I really like about Pope Francis is that he is not like these other guys” – so they are rejoicing that a new era has begun.
    A similar problem is with all these Person of the year-awards our Pope was bombarded with last year: On the one hand, everybody is claiming that the secular media is not getting the “real Francis”, on the other hand, the same people – again – are rejoicing in the fact that all the world “listens and looks up to Pope Francis”.

    There is this old saying “does not compute”: Either there is a strong continuity between Pope Francis and Benedikt XVI or there is a large discontinuity between them. Either the media gets the pope right and we can rejoice in the fact they award him or they do not get him and the awards are a sad sign for this misunderstanding.

    • Liz says:

      Yes, I see what you mean. I think one explanation of this “does not compute” phenomenon would be that there is no discontinuity between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis *in their fidelity* to the Church’s teaching and practice. However, they are two different men with two different styles, and it is good that so many people are attracted to Pope Francis’ style. Does that make sense? (This is my interpretation, if it helps.)

  6. Jamie says:

    It is very easy to write a comment online about how Pope Francis is changing one’s life. When the priests report to the bishop that more men and women are seeking enrollment in RCIA, more Catholics are Coming Home, especially seen through a longer line for the confessional and adults seeking confirmation. When hospitals report more volunteers are asking how they may help and note that the Pope inspired them, then we have reason to celebrate. Going around with excitement that self-proclaimed atheists like our celebrity Pope is not consistent with our faith. We would rather people not like the Pope but believe in God and have a relationship with Him through Christ. Are these signs of the start of something special? Perhaps, but we should not be fooled by signs. We need to look for fruits outside the Internet. For now these are people who still do not believe in God. And by the other parts of their comments, they are still filled with self-righteousness: they have the gull to ridicule other religious people, such as Popes Benedict and John Paul. It makes no sense to say that they love Pope Francis, but hated Pope John Paul, because Francis is canonizing John Paul in just a few months. It suggests that they are attracted to Francis’ smiles and hugs, but don’t really listen to his full message. If Francis’s message is that John Paul lived such a holy life that he should be enrolled in the book of the saints for the universal Church to venerate and emulate, then an atheist can’t go around bashing JP II in the same sentence he celebrates Francis. I like Pope Francis, but I’m not too concerned with his popularity. “The world will hate you because of me.” I think I heard that somewhere. The Internet trolls need to put their money where their key strokes are.

    • bluesync19 says:

      Which internet trolls are you talking about?

      There are still plenty of people who don’t believe in gods that are not impressed with the current Pope. I think the only difference between him and the last couple of Popes is his PR team, he hasn’t changed any doctrine.

    • Levin says:

      spot on my Friend!

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  10. >>As an atheist this pope does many great things, I still disagree with the church as a whole but as a person this pope gets it. <<>>As an atheist (not speaking for all of them), I’m a huge fan of this pope. I think people need to find their own reason to be good to others. <<<)
    3) Pope Francis has or is about to change the Church's teaching about sex and indifferentism.

    I'm afraid what you have shown, if these are representative statements, is that Pope Francis has been making people who don't want to believe in God feel good about themselves and their preconceived notions and prejudices against Christians.

    If you could show me one case of an atheist who has decided to accept Christ and all that His Church teaches due to Pope Francis' style, then I think the parable of the 99 and 1 fits. these examples all seem to show atheists congratulating themselves on having been right all along. 😦


    • Mike says:

      If the Pope inspires atheists to open up in dialog with believers then is it not up to the believers to evangelize? Do you recall that the pontiff was wishing that he could knock on every door of each house during World Youth Day? Perhaps if we act in union as the whole church then in this way, as the vicar of Christ, he may through us.

  11. Matt,

    your site keeps chopping off the first half of my post, it follows…..

    >>As an atheist this pope does many great things, I still disagree with the church as a whole but as a person this pope gets it. <<<

    Dear Matt,

    there seem to me some hidden assumptions embedded in your atheists' statements:

    1) Pope Benedict and the pre-Francis Church did not care about 'living the Gospel' i.e. helping the poor.

    or perhaps
    2) Pope Benedict and the pre-Francis Church were hypocrites, where Pope Francis is genuine.

  12. BanksShot says:

    It “feels” like the church has been energized by Pope Francis on all fronts.
    We just need to bring to boil those luke-warm catholics.

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