Atheism in the Modern Roman Catholic Church
Paul VI, Pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world|
Gaudium et spes / 'Joys and hopes'Rome 1965; in Renewing the
earth: Catholic documents on peace, justice and liberation,
edited by David J. O'Brien and Thomas A. Shannon (Image: NY 1977)
19. The forms and roots of atheism
Still, many of our contemporaries have never recognized this intimate and vital
link with God, or have explicitly rejected it. Thus atheism must be accounted
among the most serious problems of this age, and is deserving of closer
The word atheism is applied to phenomena which are quite distinct from one another. ...
Moreover, atheism results not rarely from a violent protest against the evil in
this world, or from the absolute character with which certain human values are
unduly invested, and which thereby already accords them the stature of God.
Modern civilization itself often complicates the approach to God, not for any
essential reason, but because it is excessively engrossed in earthly
20. Systematic atheism
Modern atheism often takes on a systematic expression, which, in addition to
other arguments against God, stretches the desire for human independence to such
a point that it finds difficulties with any kind of dependence on God. ...
Not to be overlooked among the forms of modern atheism is that which anticipates
the liberation of man especially through his economic and social emancipation.
21. The Church's attitude toward atheism
... Still, she [the Church] strives to detect in the atheistic mind the hidden
causes for the denial of God.
The remedy which must be applied to atheism, however, is to be sought in a proper
presentation of the Church's teaching as well as in the integral life of the
Church and her members.
While rejecting atheism, root and branch, the Church sincerely professes
that all men, believers and unbelievers alike, ought to work for the rightful
betterment of this world in which all alike live. ...
She [the Church] courteously invites atheists to examine the gospel of Christ
with an open mind.