I admire Pope Francis and so do many others. He is the first Pope in my lifetime to show  a true understanding of the relationship between science and religion. He embodies an awareness that is both spiritual and religious, and in so doing, demonstrates an ability to reach billions of souls beyond his own faith. My good friend William Arntz has written the following blog, which highlights why all of us, regardless of our religious backgrounds, might learn something from listening to Pope Francis:


“VATICAN CITY — His mother rejected her Catholic faith, and he grewFrancisco_(20-03-2013)

up attending no church, a skepticism that, for Bill de Blasio, has endured

to this day. As a young activist, he demanded change from the Vatican,

aiding a reform movement that church leaders once denounced as a

Yet as he entered the gates of this holy city this week on a pilgrimage

from New York City, Mayor de Blasio’s feelings about the Roman

Catholic Church have evolved.

“This is one of the centers of progressive thought in the world right

now,” Mr. de Blasio said in an interview, moments before his first

audience with a sitting pope. “In my lifetime, I never thought I’d say that

The arrival of Pope Francis, a liberal-minded pontiff who has pledged to

combat inequality, has prompted a deeply personal re-evaluation by Mr.

de Blasio, the liberal mayor of a famously secular city who has long

called himself ‘spiritual,’ not religious.” – NY Times July 23, 2015

And I myself, along with most if not all of those who worked on What

the BLEEP, would also say we were Spiritual not Religious. But what

For me it was looking more toward science than belief, more toward

verifiable facts than faith, more towards evolving knowledge than

dogma. But the question that has come to haunt me is – did I throw the

baby out with the bath water? Have I thrown all religious thought and

people into the bucket of ignorance? Is there nothing to gain from

current Religious discourse, as those people are blinded by dogma and

unwilling to think for themselves?

And finally – is this attitude just another form of the separation that the

“Spiritual not Religious” folks rail against?

It all came home last month when an article popped up on Pope Francis’

Encyclical – “Laudato Si’ – On Care for our Common Home”. An

Encyclical is what it is called when the Pope writes a major letter about

something of great import. In this case – what humans are doing to this

As I read this massive document I began shaking my head “yes yes yes”

as I read page after page of the clearest thought, based on the best

scientific research and firmly grounded in the Mystical awareness of

Oneness that says that we, and the plants and the animals and the planet

herself are all connected. “Nothing in this world is indifferent to us.”

And Pope Francis, as a citizen of this world, looked at what we are doing

to this world in the broadest way possible and reached out to everyone

“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the

future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone,

since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots,

concern and affect us all.”

He spoke not of dogma, but of what it is to be human:

“Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some

places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this

resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet

access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it

is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of

other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor

who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a

life consistent with their inalienable dignity.”

And Pope Francis was not shy about pointing the finger at those whose

greed and unconsciousness have caused great harm:

“But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human

intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is

actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and

grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to

abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an

irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have

And in talking about the loss of Biodiversity, doesn’t that last line sum

up the human arrogance that thinks we are equal with “whoever or

whatever created everything” (that’s “spiritual not religious” talk for

Mayor de Blasio and I have something in common. A barrier between

“us” and “them” is melting. As someone who is scientifically oriented

have I written off faith and belief as some holdover from the dark ages

and turned my back on those who live within that worldview? To that

the Pope holds out the olive branch: “science and religion, with their

distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense

dialogue fruitful for both.”

For the complete Encyclical:



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