In a letter addressed to a conference with Poland’s President the Pope expressed a concern with clashing radical ideologies emerging in Europe. In the letter he said:
I was greatly moved, grateful and happy to learn that an academic conference on the topic of “The Concept of the State From the Perspective of the Teachings of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI” (Pojęcie Państwa w perspektywie nauczania Kardynała Józefa Ratzingera/Benedykta XVI), attended by the representatives of Poland’s government and Church and organized under the patronage of the president of the Republic of Poland, was held to coincide with my 90th birthday.
The topic of the conference brings government and Church officials into common dialogue on a topic that is of key significance to the future of our [European] continent. The contrast between the concepts of the radically atheistic state and the creation of the radically theocratic state by Muslim movements creates a dangerous situation for our age, one whose effects we experience each day. These radical ideologies require us to urgently develop a convincing concept of the state that will stand up to the confrontation between these challenges and help to overcome it.
During the agony of the previous half-century, Poland gave the world two great figures — Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński and Pope St. John Paul II — who not only reflected upon these issues, but also carried within themselves suffering and vivid experiences; thus they continue to give us guidelines for the future.
I give my blessing to all of you and would like to express my sincere gratitude for the work that you do in these circumstances.
Vatican, April 15, 2017 (Courtesy of the National Catholic Register)
Any form of radicalism is most certainly cause for concern. In this case the Pope seems to be worried about two ideologies that are very different and at odds with each other in the first place: Islam and Atheism. Even in among moderates of the belief systems they disagree on nearly everything. The Pope is right to say that it is a volatile and dangerous situation if extremists of either belief system were to come into contact.
The concern here is the statement ‘radically atheistic state “. There is no radically atheistic state unless he talking about a state of mind. Poland is 87.2% Catholic and 10.8% unspecified (source). So it’s hard to say what he is talking about. Currently there is no real evidence that atheism leads to violence. While dictators like Pol Pot and Stalin certainly committed some of the worst crimes in human history as devout atheists their crimes were driven by radical communism and not religious unbelief itself.
In short the Pope took a jab at atheism today by suggesting that atheism contains radicals that would be a problem if they came into contact with radical Islamists with no proof of that claim. Perhaps the Pope should consider what happens when radical Catholics come into contact with radical Muslims: