On Friday’s episode of HBO’s “Real Time,” host Bill Maher laid out the case that Pope Francis I might be an atheist, based on the pontiff’s surprising recent statement that through good works “even the atheists” might meet Christians on the “beautiful path toward peace.”
While many observers took that to mean Francis was opening the door to salvation to non-believers, Maher drew the inference that the pope himself is a non-believer.
“I want to ask you and everybody else about something that happened last week that was important to me because I’m an atheist,” Maher said. “But 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. He said this week, ‘Pope Frank’ said the Lord has redeemed all of us, not just Catholics, even the atheists. And I was like, I’m going to book my flight to heaven right now. And then of course — it’s funny because just like politics, the hierarchy at the Vatican was like, ‘What the fuck did this guy —?’ You could almost see them 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.”
Maher was referring to a statement from Vatican spokesman Rev. Thomas Rosica.
“People who truly know the Catholic Church cannot be saved if they refuse to enter her or remain in her,” the statement said.
The HBO “Real Time” host then recalled his experiences making the document 2008 documentary “Religulous,” which questioned the rationality of religion, saying that many in the Catholic Church view their work as a means to do charitable deeds rather than to spread the Catholic faith.
“It made me think — I remember when I was making ‘Religulous’ and we talked to a lot of priests,” Maher said. “And we found out that a lot of priests really aren’t believers. They do it because — no, some of them do it for the sex. That’s true, but some of them — there’s a lot of good ones. And they do it because it’s a way to help people and they know they can’t tell the masses that it’s all a crock. But they themselves don’t believe it. 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. And I think he’s — I’m telling you, I think the pope’s an atheist.”