#ShortNews: No, Pope Francis Did NOT Say It’s Better to Be an Atheist Than a Bad Catholic

Don’t believe the headlines!

Have you heard the news that Pope Francis preached it was better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic? It’s in the headlines from Reuters, CNN, The Guardian, and many others.

There’s only one problem: that is not what he said. They’re all wrong.

From Vatican Radio itself, here is what Pope Francis actually said, in context:

“But what is scandal? Scandal is saying one thing and doing another; it is a double life, a double life. A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money…’ A double life. And so many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others.

“How many times have we heard – all of us, around the neighborhood and elsewhere – ‘but to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.’ It is that, scandal. You destroy. You beat down. And this happens every day, it’s enough to see the news on TV, or to read the papers. In the papers there are so many scandals, and there is also the great publicity of the scandals. And with the scandals there is destruction.”

You see that he is not saying that it’s better to be an atheist than a hypocritical Catholic. Rather, he is saying that this is something other people say when confronted with hypocritical Catholics.

In Catholic theology, “scandal” is any sin that hurts another person spiritually. The pontiff is saying that when Catholics are hypocrites, it causes scandal, and makes people think they shouldn’t be Catholic (which is bad for them spiritually).

This is of course true and is a completely uncontroversial thing to point out.

Now that you know what the Holy Father really said: Don’t be a hypocrite! Live your faith!


#ShortNews: Over 200 parishes have closed in German diocese

The Diocese of Essen, Germany, celebrated its sixtieth anniversary on February 23.

Since 1957, the number of Catholics has declined from 1.4 million to 791,000, in part because of a decline in the steel industry, according to the Italian news agency SIR. Over 200 parishes have closed, with the number of parishes falling from 259 to 43.


#ShortNews: Pope Francis: praying for evildoers is ‘Christian path to holiness’

Pope Francis visited Castelverde di Lunghezza, a suburb a dozen miles from the center of Rome, and made a pastoral visit to the Church of St. María Josefa of the Heart of Jesus, named after the Spanish foundress of the Servants of Jesus of Charity.

The Pope arrived at 3:30 on February 19 and met with various groups, including children, parents of the newly baptized, and the sick and elderly. He also heard four confessions.

During Mass, which began at 5:15, the Pope preached that the “Christian path to holiness” consists in praying for those who do evil.

The Pope asked those in the congregation not to cultivate resentments, but to “forgive from the heart.”

If God “is merciful, holy and perfect, we must be merciful, holy and perfect like him,” the Pope continued. He described prayer as “an antidote against hatred, against wars.”