I disagree with those atheists and materialists who have been launching scathing attacks on the Pope’s upcoming visit. It’s not often that a pope takes a trip to Ireland so I think we should extend every courtesy to him.
He does after all represent millions of Catholics worldwide, including in Ireland, and his essential message is one of peace and love.
He stands against corruption, oppression, social and economic inequality and has given important leadership in the global battle to save the environment. Even if Francis were a dyed in the wool atheist with no interest whatsoever in religion I would admire this compassionate and inherently decent man who, following in the footsteps of St Francis, earnestly wishes to ease the suffering of the world and make it a better place for all of us — humans and other sentient beings.
So, yes, there should be a warm welcome for Pope Francis in August, just as we ought to extend a céad míle fáilte to the Dalai Lama as spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists or to Queen Elizabeth as head of the Church of England if they decide to visit.
While sceptical of teachings promulgated by the various organised religions, I wouldn’t be as dismissive as the hardened atheists/materialists of the belief or theory that the universe was created, or somehow brought into being, by an intelligent entity whose essential nature is beyond human understanding.
Life after death? The materialists may scoff and yet there is no evidence to refute the belief, while millions of people down the ages have had experiences that strengthened their belief in survival of bodily death.
Energy can’t be destroyed, the scientists agree, so who’s to say that we humans, and other sentient creatures, don’t go on living in a different form? That’s apart altogether from the near-death experiences and alleged communications with the “dead” that we read and hear about almost daily. Are all mediums, past and present, mistaken or delusional? Is all the evidence of life after death to be dismissed or ignored?
I suggest we keep an open mind on these profound questions that have exercised the greatest minds for millennia.