To which my atheist chum responded thusly:
Why can't you catholic folks do your thing with god, Jesus, or whatever without supporting these men who are no better humans than you, living a lavish lifestyle while people all over the worlds suffer. They haven't talked to god and if they tell you they have they are lying.I responded:
Why wouldn't we do the God thing? You misunderstand his purpose, it seems to me. To whit:
*If Catholic Christians and indeed all Christians believe Jesus is the ordinary means to eternal salvation, and;
*If this is not a relative belief (i.e., it is an objective rather than a subjective truth; not meaning to insult, but simply for the sake of brevity, if you don't know the difference b/t the 2, look it up), and;
*If it therefore follows that under ordinary circumstances, no Jesus, no salvation, and;
*If Christians are called to love (and they are), and;
*If what is meant by love is not a feeling but rather an act of the will, and;
*If that means love is to will the good of another, and;
*If we are to love, then, we love by wanting good for another, and;
*If the ultimate good for another (indeed, everyone) is eternal salvation, and;
*If the Pope's principal "job"---any Pope's job---is to work for the eternal salvation of all the faithful (and it is);
*Then it follows the Pope is simply trying to lead everyone to eternal salvation. Indeed, he's doing no more than what ATHEIST Penn Jillette observed in part: "How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"
Furthermore, as an atheist, if you don't care or like that, why does it bother you? Why not just ignore it? It would seem the problem lies with he who is bothered rather than with he who bothers.
Also, you misunderstand the Pope's role as vicar of Christ. He's not an oracle, mate. I talk with God everyday. He doesn't always talk back, mind you, but He has. It's not a booming voice a la the Charlton Heston movie, "The Ten Commandments." Rather, it's a "still, small voice." You have to listen for it, of course, and it's not like some magic trick. ("OK, here I am, God, being silent. So speak, already. Get on with it.") It doesn't happen each and every time. That said, it does happen. You can call me crazy. You can say it's just my imagination, but that's a statement of faith on your part, for you really don't know, do you? Atheism is as much a faith based on reason (I would say fault reason, but that's another discussion) as is Christianity. Jillette, Hitchens et al are wrong when they say faith are inimical to science and reason. To say otherwise is just willfulness and ignorance.
Tell you what: When you can definitively refute Aquinas' "Five Proofs for the Existence of God," let's talk. It's a pretty safe bet I'm making. In fact, here: Let me give you a head start. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinquae_viae. Just read the bullet points under each proof's "Summary" section if you don't want to read the actual argument.
BTW, Dawkins' argument about smelliness is stupid b/c it goes away from perfection. He would have been better served had he gone in the direction of smell-less, but that wouldn't have worked for his argument now, would it have?
Incidentally, here is the Pope's "lavish" apartment.
Here's the layout of the "luxurious" papal apartment occupied by Benedict XVI (half of which space is taken up by the chapel).