The Vatican made a big publicity push out of Pope Benedict XVI’s personal initiative to invite atheists to this week’s interfaith dialogue at Assisi, Italy. It was supposed to be a day of reflection and dialogue, but Benedict XVI, with four atheists in attendance at his invitation, turned the meeting into yet another attack against atheists.
“God’s absence”, the Pope argued, would lead to violence and even concentration camps, because denial of the Divine “corrupts men, deprives them of restraint, making them lose their humanity”. By contrast, said the Pope, use of violence in the name of religion would only be “an abuse of the Christian faith.”
“Again and again the Pope reveals himself as an ‘atheophobe’” says Raffaele Carcano, head of the Italian Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics (UAAR), an International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) member organization. “His attacks against atheists, and his pretension to acquire agnostics, are a clear attempt to demonize the unbelief that’s increasingly spreading throughout the world, as acknowledged by the clearly worried Pope himself.”
“We remind Benedict XVI”, Carcano continues, “that no war was ever fought in the name of atheism, and countries with the highest number of atheists are also those where the crime rate is lower”. About the concentration camps, “they are the result of the thousand-years-old Christian anti-semitism. Adolf Hitler believed in God, while atheists were persecuted by the Nazi regime. The slogan of the Third Reich’s army was ‘God with us’: as Ratzinger should know, having served in Hitler’s military.”
–story based on a UAAR press release