Pope Francis a liberal free thinker? Don’t kid yourself

Jul 14, 2015

by Nick Cohen

Dismissing St Thomas Aquinas with his customary succinctness, Bertrand Russell said there was “little of the true philosophic spirit” in the Catholic church’s greatest philosopher. It was not that he wasn’t clever, but that he lacked the willingness to follow an argument wherever it led. Catholic dogma determined in advance where he could and could not go.

Aquinas “already knows the truth; it is declared in the Catholic faith. If he can find apparently rational arguments for some parts of the faith, so much the better; if he cannot, he need only fall back on revelation. The finding of arguments for a conclusion already given in advance is not philosophy, but special pleading.”

Anti-Catholicism is still a residual force in Britain and a great mistake of secularists who fall into the prejudice is to imagine that the church’s dogmas are as dumb as the blabbering of the worst type of knuckle-dragging, know-nothing Protestant fundamentalist. Reading the pope’s encyclical on the care of our common home ought to provide an antidote. It shows, if nothing else, why apparently intelligent men and women can lose themselves in the richness of Catholic theology.

The encyclical is plainly written – Francis examines our throwaway society and declares: “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” It emphasises the interconnectedness of the natural world and is properly appalled that humanity is presiding over a mass extinction of species. Francis shows a concern for the poor that would shame most rich leftwingers, let alone their conservative opponents. And like his recent predecessors he is comfortable with modern science. Even if you think, as I do, that there is no God and the pope should grow up, you should admit that there is grandeur in this view of life, to take Darwin’s words wildly out of context, and a moral vigour too.


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26 comments on “Pope Francis a liberal free thinker? Don’t kid yourself

  • To sell rubbish to the masses with credibility, it is necessary to mix in some authentic evidenced material and then pretend that the science and dogmas are of the same quality and same validity!

    No doubt the faithful, will shortly be telling the environmental scientists, who have been giving warnings of environmental problems for over 50 years, that the Johnny-come-lately-pope and Catholicism, are “world leaders” on these subjects!!



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  • 2
    Miserablegit says:

    Frankie’s intervention on climate change is the definition of cynicism, any serious attempt to save humanity will be claimed as the work of the RCC and nothing to do,with the decades of work by others.



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  • The richest organisation in the world could do much to end world poverty by endorsing birth control. But I doubt they’ll do that as the wealth is founded on the contributions from the poor (and credulous). So, if god only tolerates sex within marriage and for the procreation of children, how come there are christian married couples unable to conceive children?



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  • 5
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    @OP:

    The credulity of believers can be bad enough but the credulity of liberals can be worse.

    That hit the nail on the head. One notable example of a liberal who I think fits in this category about Pope Francis is Bill Maher. I agree with him on many, if not most issues but on this one, I think he’s just a big sucker for Papa Frank and seems to be biased towards liking him. Probably a classic case of wishful thinking. It happens to all of us I guess.

    I also think he’s missing the big picture which Cohen articulates quite elegantly. Overall, an excellent article.



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  • NearlyNakedApe,

    One notable example of a liberal who I think fits in this category about Pope Francis is Bill Maher

    I’m sick of Maher praising the Pope. Someone needs to set him straight. It’s not funny with all the suffering caused by the RCC. At the end of the show, on “Overtime”, Maher reads off questions for quick discussion. I’m going to send him a question for the next show asking why he thinks Francis is so great when he still keeps women barefoot and pregnant.



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  • The Catholic Church does’t require you to have children it requires you to be open to the possibility of having children whenever you have sex, or some words to that effect.



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  • No one can be a liberal free thinker if they belong to an organization like the Roman Catholic Church which is riddled with dogmas and whose members are forced to believe in them.



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  • Exertion of pressure by powerful politicians,the like of Barack Obama and Francois Hollande on the pope to join the environmental awareness campaign seem to do the job nicely. The RCC seen value to pretend concern with the climate change and get credit for something they know nothing about.
    The RCC worries about the poor I would believe it when they stop fleecing them.



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  • No problem, I understand what Laurie is talking about though. Bill was a little smitten with the Pope while ignoring some obvious problems with him. I think his opinion of leaders of organized religion is so low that when the Pope started saying things like “maybe atheist could go to heaven”, or “who am I to judge gay people ?”, Bill was impressed. Though the Pope walked back on both of those issues after the Catholic hierarchy started raising hell.

    To be honest though I’m generally impressed with what he’s said about climate change and his willingness to tackle the true sacred cow, the worship of money. Though I guess words are easy.



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  • Population explosion is front and centre of the environmental problems we’re causing.

    And if, as I understand it, this man has a degree in chemistry, he’s no better than his predecessor.

    But, there are vacancies at Oglilvy and Mather!



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  • kamel
    Jul 14, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    The RCC seen value to pretend concern with the climate change and get credit for something they know nothing about.

    They love to take credit for anything of value, and distance themselves from unpleasantness, or at least deny their connection to it!.

    The RCC worries about the poor – I would believe it when they stop fleecing them.

    If they really cared in any practical way, they would stop helping to spread AIDS and aggravating the poverty of exploding populations, by opposing the use of condoms and spreading disinformation about contraception!



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  • 16
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    I don’t think he thinks the pope so great now!

    No he doesn’t…. until the Pope says something he likes and then, they’ll just kiss and make up. It’s happened before. His show is off the air until Aug. 7th but I can already picture him giving praise to old Frankie about what he said about climate change when he gets back.

    Somebody ought to post the link to Nick Cohen’s article in The Guardian on Bill Maher’s Twitter or Facebook page (unsurprisingly, he doesn’t have a public email address).



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  • Ryan1306
    Jul 14, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    and his willingness to tackle the true sacred cow, the worship of money. Though I guess words are easy.

    Ah! – money and wealth!!

    http://www.theology21.com/2012/09/29/poverty-and-the-popes-golden-throne/
    One of my students, while discussing poverty in class recently, mocked the Catholic church for its seeming lack of compassion. He cracked, “I am the pope and need to pray for the poor. Let me lean back in my golden throne.” I could not help but burst into laughter. The image was palatable and laughably ironic. For an organization which has so much wealth, or at least so it would seem by its ornamentation, how could they let any poverty exist among them?



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  • 18
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    If they really cared in any practical way, they would stop helping to spread AIDS and aggravating the poverty of exploding populations, by opposing the use of condoms and spreading disinformation about contraception!

    From Archie Bunker’s lips to God’s ears:

    The Pope says he cares about the environment but he should put his money shot where his mouth is. And preach through example instead of just words…



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  • Thanks for posting the Attenborough RSA speech bonnie; I’ve not seen it for a long time, and think it should be made to go viral!

    When D A says there’s something you can all do to help, I wonder how many in the audience shared my thought that he might be going to say stop bonking so much; or at least learn to enjoy self-pleasuring or solo sex.

    Wrong time and place perhaps?



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  • Odalrich
    Jul 14, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    No one can be a liberal free thinker if they belong to an organization like the Roman Catholic Church which is riddled with dogmas and whose members are forced to believe in them.

    Ah! .. . .But the self deluded can pretend they are free thinkers – even when the rational can recognise them as logic-free thinkers.

    In faith-thinking, it is possible to be a free-thinking, fascist, communist, liberal, dogmatist, without a flicker of cognitive dissonance showing!

    It’s all part of the free-dumb of faith thinking, devoid of evidence based rationality which would only confuse the faithful!



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  • 23
    Lorenzi says:

    “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” It emphasises the interconnectedness of the natural world and is properly appalled that humanity is presiding over a mass extinction of species”.
    LOL/LOL/
    Francisco shows a concern for the poor and he is comfortable with modern science (and only because THEY have no other choice, really) And here is my take on this ” groundbreaking illuminating moment”.
    Speaking from a purely scientific standpoint-all logic,no heart-without some drastic changes the end of ou spicies is coming. And it is coming fast. It WONT be fire, brimstone,apocalypse rapture ,or nuclear war….it will be total collapse due to the number of people on the planet. The mathematics is INDISPUTABLE.
    The WHO ( World Health Organization) feels strongly that the wide spread availability of CONTRACEPTION is one of the keys to GLOBAL health,to combat sexually transmitted diseases and also for POPULATION control,and yet,the VATICAN “feels differently”,they have and continue to spend enormous amount of energy and money indoctrinating third-world contries into a belief that ANY form of contraception is EVIL…so your free ticket to HELL would be waranteed.REALLY? Who in the fuck are a bunch of “celibates” male octogenarians to tell the world how to have sex???I ask…WHY TAX PAYERS should take care of births that are a product of this STUPID brained washed belief just to increase the potential church goers $$$$ ??? THE CHURCH SHOULD take care of it,what ever happens to drop the child at the church doors for care if you cant afford it ???It is YOUR choise to bring a child to the world /so it should be YOUR responsability to take care of it,as simple as that.SORRY FLIP-FLOP POOE FRANCISCO but as you well know “The fourfold root of the principle of sufficient reason goes as follows ”
    1. Anything perceived has a cause.
    2. All conclusions have premises.
    3. All effects have causes.
    4. All actions have motives
    So dude, fuck off, seat on your golden throne and live and dye like all your predecessors… as a fat cat.



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  • @OP – And like his recent predecessors he is comfortable with modern science.

    This is delusional comedy with a nasty twist from the usual liars for Jesus!

    Neither Francis nor his recent predecessors were “comfortable with modern science”.

    What they were “comfortable with”, was pretending that Catholic faith-based pseudo-science, IS modern science!! – With a bit of modern science thrown in to add some credibility!

    159. Faith and science: “… methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. (Vatican II GS 36:1)
    On October 27, 2014, Pope Francis issued a statement at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences that “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation,” warning against thinking of God’s act of creation as “God [being] a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything.”

    The Pope also expressed in the same statement the view that scientific explanations such as the Big Bang and evolution in fact require God’s creation:

    Catholicism with its saints, miracles, exorcisms and god-did-it-all, is inconsistent with modern science, no matter how many times its deluded salesmen assert that it is consistent, or how many gullibles swallow the lies and repeat them!



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  • It seems that in Europe, human rights are in proportion to the distance from the Vatican!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-33611955
    Italy violates human rights by failing to offer enough legal protection for same-sex couples, a European court has ruled.

    Judges said the government had breached the rights of three gay couples by refusing them marriage or any other recognised form of union.

    .Italy is the only major Western European country with no civil partnerships or gay marriage.

    Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has long promised to pass a law on civil unions.

    By failing to introduce new legislation, his government failed to “provide for the core needs relevant to a couple in a stable committed relationship,” the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Tuesday.

    The court said Italy was in breach of Article 8 – the right to respect for private and family life – of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    A small number of municipalities in Italy allow local civil unions, but there is a national ban on same-sex marriage and the benefits of the existing provision are limited.

    It noted that 24 out of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe had passed laws in favour of legal recognition, and that the Italian constitutional court had repeatedly called for such protection and recognition.

    The three couples in the case have been together for years, and all had their requests to be married rejected.

    The ECHR ruled that the Italian government should pay the six men €5,000 (£3,500; $5,500) each in compensation, as well as expenses.

    The prime minister has said his government would introduce laws on same-sex civil unions this year.



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  • This Pope is an arrogant pronatilist and a close follower of Augustine of Hippo. All of his talk is cloaked in pseudo piety and he has little regard for the poor. He just wants people to be poor, uneducated and desperate so he can have more and more power over the minds of all people. His talk promotes the population explosion and increases poverty. He along with all Popes as well as the entire church hierarchy are very successful SCAM artists.



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