TOPICS admits that on the scale of things we pay attention to, the Pope’s Christmas address sits somewhere between a new fast rail study and a Richard Wilkins report on a celebrity death.
Those who track these things, though, were excited by Pope Francis’s first crack at the annual speech to the masses.
Since taking over from Pope Benedict, Francis has come across as relaxed and less judgmental than some of his predecessors. Crowds have warmed to him, like a papal ‘‘Boof’’ Lehmann.
He even went off script for his Christmas message to give a shout-out to atheists. Peter Rowney, of Lemon Tree Passage, says he’s taken that into account in his end-of-year performance review for Pope Francis.
‘‘First was his outreach to atheists and non-believers, when he said they could probably still get into heaven,’’ says Peter.
‘‘Well that’s very magnanimous of him, but I’m pretty sure most atheists don’t believe in heaven, nor would they want to spend eternity there.’’
Francis, says Peter, has paid lip service to including gay parishioners and helping those in need, but done little to change the Vatican’s stance on either.
‘‘Overall I’d give Francis an A+ for talking the talk, but as for walking the walk it’s a big F for failing to achieve anything constructive,’’ is Peter’s verdict.