pope francis
Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter's Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

Pope Francis says the 'nones' can be allies for the church

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis extended a hand to those who don't belong to any religion, urging them on Wednesday (March 20) to work with believers to build peace and protect the environment.

pope francis

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter's Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

In his first ecumenical meeting, the new pope greeted representatives from Christian churches and other religions, including Jewish and Muslim leaders, who had come to Rome to attend his inaugural Mass on Tuesday.

Francis said that he intends to follow “on the path of ecumenical dialogue” set for the Roman Catholic Church by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

But he also reached out to those who don't belong “to any religious tradition” but feel the “need to search for the truth, the goodness and the beauty of God.”

Francis echoed his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, saying that the “attempt to eliminate God and the divine from the horizon of humanity” has often led to catastrophic violence.

But Francis, who has set a humbler tone to the papacy since his election on March 13, added that atheists and believers can be “precious allies” in their efforts “to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation.”

Francis also stressed the “very special spiritual bond” between Catholics and Jews.

“There is no doubt that Catholic-Jewish relations will go from strength to even greater strength during Pope Francis's pontificate," said Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, after meeting with Francis.

Rabbi David Rosen, the international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, is the Jewish member of the board of directors for the King Abdullah Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue. Photo courtesy Rabbi David Rosen

Rabbi David Rosen, the international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, is the Jewish member of the board of directors for the King Abdullah Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue. Photo courtesy Rabbi David Rosen

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Earlier on Wednesday, the pope met privately with the spiritual leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

According to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Bartholomew and Francis are planning a joint visit to Jerusalem in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1964 meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras.

That meeting led to the cancellation of the reciprocal excommunications between the leaders of western and eastern Christianity in 1054, otherwise known as the “Great Schism.”

Bartholomew attended Francis' inauguration on Tuesday, the first Patriarch to do so in over 900 years.


  1. So I guess this Pope isn’t actually going to reach out to atheists. Oh well.

  2. I guess Pope Francis does not understand that St. Francis preached Our Lord jesus crucified to non believers.

  3. No…
    Hell, no…go find other allies to help your evil empire.

  4. I think he misses the root of the point. Atheists search for truth, goodness, and beauty without God.

  5. The problem is sometimes even recognition isn’t a requirement for Christ to work in our lives. In John Chapter 9 Jesus spat on the ground, made mud pies and smeared them on a blind man’s face. Soon the man could see. The method of the miracle is so bizarre that we often miss the most important point. The man didn’t ask to be healed. He was minding his own business when some guy rubs dirt and spit on his eyes and them tells him to go wash it off. He didn’t even know the name of his assailant. Here Jesus performs a miracle without anyone asking or recognizing who he was. Jesus served as an anonymous donor, able to give gifts without getting the credit. If we, who are merely human, are able to give anonymous gifts, how much more is Jesus?

    The truth is that Christ is able to do his work with or without Christianity or recognition. This doesn’t mean he’s against Christianity, only that he doesn’t require it. Just because my religion bears his name doesn’t give me the ability to wield or withhold the saving or healing power of Christ as I see fit.

  6. Yes, he is. Preach the Gospel through example and you’re doing it right. Shove your religion down people’s throats and you are failing to do so.

  7. I never trust anyone with nicer shoes than me as a rule if thumb that asks for my money. He wears Pradas. That in itself is enough to deter me from believing anything he says or giving him money. Lets face it. ..Religion is a tax free business. Catholicism is the worst.

  8. Alan,

    Here’s the rest of that story.

    35 Jesus heard that they had cast him (eye healed man) out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”[c] 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt;[d] but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.r the village.”

    Christ healed the man of a PHYSICAL affliction. He did NOT heal the man from his salvitic ailment by healing his eye sight. This man wasn’t SAVED from his misery of eternal death until Jesus caught up to him, and AFTER he was tossed by the Jews. Then… and only then did he receive the salvation he needed.

    So, can God/Jesus do whatever He wants? Sure, but let’s not mix salvatic issues with non-salvitic issues.

  9. With all due respect, I have a feeling that Pope Francis has a pretty good idea what St. Francis did. And frankly, I have some secular friends who do better at living Jesus’ teachings better than a lot of churchgoers I know. They like Jesus just fine…it’s judgmental followers from the Church they have problems with.

  10. Christ has followers who do not even know that they are following him, if we take the teachings of Matthew 25 seriously.

  11. You should probably back that up a little more before some agnostic thinks he could be saved from not knowing.

  12. Calling other religions to participate in any Christian viewpoint discussion from their viewpoint, rather than from the lessons of our Lord and Saviour, reminds me of Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13 where we are told that it is not possible to serve two masters. If these others are not coming into the Christian belief but, are bringing their doctrine what is being created? A new theology which declares that God of Abraham, Moses, the Son is not the Most High but some kind of equal shareholder, or just one of many? Seems pretty dangerous to me.

  13. Not really, they seek it with a fully open mind. This is that they don’t only look at it from a religious view. I have seen many that used this to find religion and to leave it.

  14. I would agree. There are two types, those that have a fully open mind and those that are just anti-god. Those that have an open mind look for truth any way they can and those that are anti-god look to just try and prove he is not there.

  15. I don’t really understand Seamus’ response. Don’t atheists generally love their families, desire world peace, abhor war, want to leave an environment to their grandchildren which respects all species, etc.? Whether we see eye to eye on matters of theology is only one piece of humanity’s puzzle.

  16. Living the teachings is great and what every believer is to do as stated in Peter. However, one still needs to KNOW the teacher! That doesn’t come from Confusicous, Plato, Gaia, Mother Theresa or anyone else.

    It ONLY comes through a the belief that Christ died, was buried and rose again on the 3rd day according to scriptures.

    Jesus said:
    1. Love God with all your heart
    2. Love neighbor.

    The 2nd is possible in a true way only through the 1st command. The most important issue for anyone to cognizant of is:

    John 3:14-22 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

    After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

    The ‘church’ is to point people to God.

  17. True, atheists can search for beauty, goodness and truth without God, But they can find it with out God because God is Beauty, God is Goodness, God is Truth and there are not three gods but one who revealed this about Himself in the Dinvine person of Our Lord Jesus Christ cucified which only demonstrates that there are few honest seakers of beauty, goodness and truth.
    If there were truly not God, there would be no true athests.

  18. Moral Proposal to Francis
    Proposal about rise Moral of Humanity
    Dear Pope Francis,

    In the world take place the moral degradation. Unfortunately, all kinds of religions cannot stop this process only their real possibilities, absence of mutual understanding and effective cooperation. As a result of absence of due education at youth high of morals level of relations of people the modern mankind cannot provide itself in a necessary measure with useful, rational image of getting of means to a normal life. Economic crises, wars, robberies, murders proceed.
    For some reason people do not realize simple TRUE: the reason, (base) of all unreasonable actions of people and bad conditions of their life on a planet the Earth is a wild way of life, absence of education at youth of useful moral qualities of the person: goodwill, honesty, decency, own advantage without a damage to other people, aspirations to all fine, elegance, respect of wisdom, benevolent politeness, tolerance, delicacy, modesty, etc.
    There has come time the Earth on the basis of observance in a life of reasonable natural mutual relations of the people stated by founders of the most widespread religions of the world (is time) for the organization of international propagation of high norms of morals, education of intelligent relations of people in all states of our planet: the Buddha, Christ and Mohammed.
    Bitterly to realize the fact that presently by use of mass media and, first of all, TV, frank immorality is constantly propagandized. For example, ways of a robbery, physical mockeries and murder of people, and also advertising, violence, dishonesties, cynicism, permissiveness, illegal actions for enrichment of criminals by any way; etc.
    At the same time, for the decision of the above-stated problem of change of living conditions of people it is necessary to take advantage effectively of results of progressive development of the international TV.
    Unlike religious cents of the United Nations Organization (UNO) possesses unique possibility of coordination of actions of the governments of all countries of the world. Therefore (in connection with circumstances) the greatest effect of re-education of mankind it is possible to reach by the organization on air of the Intelligent Television Channel of the United Nations Organization.
    If the UNO (Ban Ki-Moon) agree with idea of necessity of global re-education of moral shape of people on the Earth (in the world) in commonwealth with attendants of religious communities we can by commonwealth with you quickly develop and present to the UNO the Concept of work of the Intelligent Television Channel (ITC of the UNO). We are ready to develop and present immediately to you for the coordination our vision (representation) of the Concept of all basic spheres of intelligent unostentatious propagation of high morals, the organization of reasonable beautiful living conditions of the person on the Earth on the basis of high ethics. Your personal great prestige will provide a substantiation and a recognition of necessity of acceptance of the positive decision in the United Nations.
    At further (subsequent) our contact it suggested to use any variant of the name (on your discretion) United Nations Television Channel: «The True Tree», «Honour and Conscience», «The Reasonable Future», «Reasonable and Useful», «Reason, Advantage, Beauty», etc.

    In 2008 after publication of the philosophical treatise “INTELLIGENCE”, (Choogin V.V. and Chepelyuk E.V., ISBN 978-966-2207-01-9), SUPREME CREATOR has visited my brains, has removed restriction on far-sighted reflections, has lifted above clouds, has provided clearness of understanding of the validity and has charged to think over process of perfection of a life on a planet the Earth.
    Since 2009 I have started to write down separate thoughts in writing-books.
    On July, 07th, 2010 SUPREME has sent me the Envoy in the name of the small beautiful butterfly of yellow colour who has sat down to me on a brush of a hand and did not leave it in the course of installation of four support for the future summer-house which has been conceived for reflections and fixation of new thoughts in writing-books. This «Sign of God» has definitively convinced me of necessity of a writing of the Way of Mankind for the Uniform State “EARTH DWELLERS” for ordinary workers of people all over the world (not for rich oligarchs).
    Till December, 31st 2012, I have written eight writing-books.
    From January, 01st, till April, 04th, 2013 all thoughts have been placed on the computer.
    Now I am engaged in updating and polishing of the text of four heads of the fundamental philosophical treatise «Domination of Nonsense, Primitive State and Power of Reason, Virtue on a way to Reasonable and Just State». I assume to finish by October, 2013 editing of all text of the treatise.
    The form of a statement of a real way to the Future is presented in the form of a spoken language for accessible understanding of the maintenance by ordinary workers worldwide. Certainly, I understand the first negative reaction of “experts”: «Author has gone mad!», «It is all to carry out not really!», ЕТС. But me the opinion of modern heads of the states and philosophers does not interest, as I carry out the commission of SUPREME CREATOR. I accurately realize one true: all simple citizens will welcome a reasonable, fair way for them in the Future State “EARTH DWELLERS” for achievement of normal living conditions and development of the abilities and talents.

    The first edition of the treatise in small quantity of copies (at least 100) is expedient for carrying out in perfect Russian language for preservation of all subtleties, nuances of my reflections. The second publication of this work is rational for spending in English language for use in all countries.
    I understand a negative reality of a situation: in our country nobody will resolve treatise publication for reviews of “experts” will be negative! Surprisingly, but in the Middle Ages the publication of works of thinkers even in case of presence of the bitter truth of life of those times was carried out! Then it could be carried out, and now it is possible to publish only works on advantage to oligarchs. Primitive state is frank!
    After October I am waited by great difficulties with procedure of the edition of the treatise about basic features of the organization and useful functioning of the Reasonable, Just State on the basis of high ethics of Intellectual Intelligence.

    With big respect,

    Valeriy Vitalievich CHOOGIN
    Academician of Ukrainian Technological Academy,
    Dr. Sc. (Technical), Professor.

    Kherson, UKRAINE

  19. No, don’t want to be allies with an organization that hides and condones priests who perpetrate and victimize children. It’s like a parent who is aware of the other parent molesting their own child, not really a good thing, ya know? Probably be a reckoning for them at the gates when they meet their Ole’ St. Pete, if you believe in that story line. Just sayin. What? All apart of Gods plan now? BWAHAHAHA Get real.

  20. have seen many priests do the traditional washing of feet but this is the first that had broadcasted kissing asses.

  21. Good point, Saint Francis did preach Jesus crucified and that would be offensive to Muslims. We should respect others and try not to be any more offensive than necessary, But the truth is Christianity and Islam are both mutually exclusive and never the twain shall meet

  22. St. Frances and his friars preached among the Muslims. According to the account given by St. Bonaventure, when St. Frances was captured by the Saracens and taken to the Sultan, the Sultan inquired by whom, why and how they had been sent, Francis replied with an intrepid heart that the Most High God had sent him to point out to the Sultan and his people the way of salvation and to announce the Gospel of truth..
    True charity to the Muslims includes preaching the way of salvation that can only be realized through Christ crucified.

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