06/05/2013 05:03 pm ET

The Truth About Pope Francis And Atheists


I was touched by the Pope’s apparent declaration that morally well-behaved nonbelievers (such as, I hope, myself) are just as worthy of God’s beneficence as are morally well-behaved believers—that God, being good, does not punish nice, otherwise inoffending people simply for not kowtowing to Him. Why was I touched? Well, not because I believe in God. (I don’t.) And not because I was relieved to have it on good authority that I’m probably going to Heaven. (I’m not going anywhere, until such time, hopefully not too soon, as I go nowhere.) I was touched because the spirit of the Pope’s homily was one of kindness, tolerance, humanity, and common sense. I was touched because (putting aside questions of existence or nonexistence) the God that the Pope worships is not a cruel, vain, surpassingly egomaniacal tyrant.

However: Not so fast!

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