NEW YORK — Is the world split over atheism, or does it simply be a question of when to celebrate it?
In an interview with The Associated Press, Pope Francis said he has no problem celebrating religious festivals and festivals of all faiths, but that he would like to see more acceptance of atheism.
“We can’t have a society where everyone thinks that everyone is right, and everybody believes in everything, and everyone is against everyone,” Francis said in an interview that aired Sunday on “CBS This Morning.”
“We need to have an honest discussion about that.
I’m not a fan of religion, but it’s always about the faith, and what you believe.”
Francis’ comments come as he hosts a Vatican-organized conference of religious leaders and their guests, including prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Sam Harris University professor John Cassidy.
His remarks on Sunday came after he said last week that he has never seen a greater need for tolerance in the world.
“I don’t think there’s any place in the church for the promotion of hate,” Francis told reporters.
“That is not a Christian concept.
It is not Christian, and it is not moral.
And I’m going to say it again, because it is important, it is very important: tolerance.
Francises remarks came on the eve of the annual World Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, an annual gathering of more than 50 world leaders and human rights advocates, from March 7 to 9 in New York. “
Francis added: “I don´t know how we are going to live with that.
“Francises remarks came on the eve of the annual World Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, an annual gathering of more than 50 world leaders and human rights advocates, from March 7 to 9 in New York.
It also comes on the heels of the Catholic Church’s decision last month to allow women to serve as priests in the diocese of Boston.
The Vatican also is hosting a conference of more that 150 religious leaders, including American atheist and former atheist Richard Dawkins and British author Sam Harris.
The conference was called “The World on Faith,” and Francis is set to give a speech at the event, which takes place this Sunday.
Francis was asked about the conference in the interview.
I don`t want to say anything negative, because I don`s just happy to see people being more tolerant,” he said.
“But I think the whole world is a much more tolerant place now than it was 20 years ago.
I don’t know why.
We have to find out.”
Francistans remarks came amid a week of intense criticism of Francis for what some critics said was a lack of sensitivity to the plight of atheists and humanists who have faced persecution.
In addition to his call for tolerance, Francis has made no public comments on the issue of anti-Semitism.
The Catholic Church says it welcomes diversity, but Francis said Sunday he was open to the idea of “some kind of dialogue.”
Francism has become an increasingly popular religious figure in the United States and around the world, even as some Christians have begun to question his leadership and the church’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis.