I’ve never met Pope Benedict XVI. I’m sure he is a kind and good man, but I’m led to believe he would not say the same of me. In a new encyclical, he blames atheism for “some of the ‘greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice’ ever known.”
It would be more fair to blame the people who committed those acts (Mao, Lenin, Stalin, et al), rather then their religious persuasion. We all know about atrocities committed in the name of faith, but that does not make faith itself evil.
The Pope’s argument rests on the assumption that one simply cannot be a good person without religious faith. This is false on its face. All of us know people of integrity who are honest, hard-working, loyal, and kind – and secular. I try every day to be all of those things. I don’t need faith to compel me to be a good person.
Faith is not a necessity for a virtuous life. To say that it is insults good, honest people everywhere.