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BY Matthew Archbold
When children are desperate for attention they scream and cry, talk show hosts in need of attention make fun of Catholics. Actually "make fun" isn't the proper term. They hurl hate at Catholics with a smile on their face so they can accuse anyone who's offended of being humorless.
Television host Bill Maher has long lost the power to shock because he's so consistently misinformed and hateful about religious people. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take note of what is said by him and others like him. Sometimes when I write about anti-Catholic screeds from the media some see it as akin to reporting that the sun came up that morning. My thinking, however, is that someone might just take to the Google and look up what Maher said and I just want to make sure there's something out there informing them he's dead wrong.
Remember the time that the media reported that The Vatican said there was no Hell? Yeah, I still hear about that one in the comboxes. Remember when Pope Benedict XVI supposedly endorsed condom usage? I know some well intentioned people who actually believed that one. We owe it to everyone to report the truth, even in the face of misinformed hatred, intentional or otherwise.
In this case, Bill Maher, the atheist host of HBO's "Real Time," show announced that he believed that Pope Francis is an atheist and because of that, it's likely that the Vatican will attempt to kill the Pope first chance they get.
The Daily Caller reported that Maher was surprised that Pope Francis said Jesus died for all, even atheists. What people choose to do with His love is up to them. This, of course, is not a new teaching. In fact, it's not surprising in the least to anyone except to those who know nothing about the Church and would be surprised by any actual belief of the Church.
Maher said, "You know people always say when somebody says something obvious, ‘Oh is the pope Catholic?’ I think he might not be. I think the pope might be an atheist like I think Obama is." "And I think ‘Pope Frank,’ you know, what’s his real name — his or Argentinian name? Its [Mario Bergoglio]. It sounds like a real expensive rare of shoes. And he’s a sophisticated guy from that era," said Maher. "And I think he’s — I’m telling you, I think the pope’s an atheist.”
Maher doesn't believe in God. And he seems to think anyone with a "sophisticated" brain must not actually really believe in God either. He sees belief as a teddy bear or a pacifier for existential angst much like weekends at the Playboy mansion are for him. Perversely, Maher's way of showing respect for Pope Francis is labeling him a secret atheist. By saying that the Church up until this moment had damned all atheists to Hell is just not true. On this he is misinformed. The Catechism states plainly:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.
But as with all things Maher, you don't just get misinformation, you get hatred. Maher later added that because of what the Pope said, "You could almost see them (The Vatican) preparing the poison. Luckily we’ve got a spare pope. You know, one of the key things in this religion and most religions is monopoly only through us. Even hippie Jesus said that. Only through me. So this guy is saying everybody gets to heaven. So then they had to walk it back.”
The Vatican didn't walk anything back. The Vatican gave the whole truth, not just the parts some people like. It's likely Maher was referring to a statement from Vatican spokesman Rev. Thomas Rosica who said that those who "truly know the Catholic Church cannot be saved if they refuse to enter her or remain in her." I do believe there are many who do not "truly know" the Catholic Church. Getting your theology from Bill Maher will not change that.