Pope Francis has said it is better to be an atheist than one of many hypocritical Catholics he said lead a double life.
"There are those who say 'I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this and that association'," the leader of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church said, according to a Vatican Radio transcript.
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Pope Francis said, some of these hypocritical people should also say: "'my life is not Christian, I don't pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, [I lead] a double life'."
"There are many Catholics who are like this and they cause scandal," he said. "How many times have we all heard people say 'if that person is a Catholic, it is better to be an atheist'."
Pope Francis does not know that we have our morality, our values. God is not a single source of morality. Most atheists are excellent people, though they do not believe in God. And I think they are so good because they do not believe in God. It is difficult to think that God exists and that he is always so neutral, always so relentless. Where is God when so many people are so poor, hopeless, sick, people die, where is God??? If God is so good and if he can do everything, why do people die? If you think that God is good and you believe that this "good," omnipotent person remains neutral when people are poor, sick and die, what does the word "good" mean in your opinion? We atheists have other notions about "good" and "bad."
Pope Francis. Image: Getty Images