So That’s How the Vatican Works…

CGPGrey presents “Vatican City Explained“:

(Thanks to Scott for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • jl

    I am a recent convert to Catholicism, and I don’t see this blog being really ‘friendly’ I was expecting more respect, which is something I learned in my RCiA courses. Best.

  • Feminerd

    This particular post isn’t disrespectful at all. The same guy does videos explaining the complicated bits Great Britain and how all its borders and sub-countries work, as well as the Netherlands. He has the exact same tone in all of them. I consider what he does fascinating.

  • Rain

    Maybe you should put in a word to the Pope to have this blog excommunicated.

  • Rain

    Maybe you should put in a word to the Pope to have this blog excommunicated Catholic hissy-fitted.


  • Rain

    Excommunication: (noun) A Papal hissy-fit.

  • Richard Wade

    Hi jl, welcome.
    I hope that what you experience here most often is that people will be friendly, as in respectful to you as a person. Ideas, beliefs, assertions, and arguments on the other hand will be challenged. If ideas, beliefs, assertions, and arguments of any kind for any side of any issue are flawed, fallacious, absurd, or unsubstantiated, you might see them delicately dismantled, or torn assunder. Nobody’s immune or protected from that. I’ve been a daily commenter here for about seven or eight years, and I have the scars to prove it.

    If you can keep your ideas, beliefs, assertions, and arguments separate from your sense of self, from your ego, I think you can come to enjoy the dialogue, the banter, the repartee, and the good-natured mayhem.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Respect does not mean agreeing with you. Nor does it mean not criticizing. I would suggest you invest in a dictionary. I would also suggest you cut off the all too prevalent persecution complex…It looks like it’s already starting to set in.

  • Fractal Heretic

    Religious folks are actually encouraged to make their beliefs the core of their identity. That’s why they perceive any opposing viewpoint as a personal attack.

  • Michael W Busch

    “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults”. The process by which adults who want to convert are made members of the Roman Catholic Church. Traditionally ends with receiving baptism, confirmation, and first communion at an Easter Vigil mass – that is, two weeks ago. So jl’s statement is timely.

    My question for jl is this: _why_ did you chose to convert to Catholicism? As Richard says, there is respect for people. There is no inherent respect for ideas and beliefs.

  • Michael W Busch

    One wrinkle missed in the video: the Vatican City is the only real estate that is the country, but the Vatican also enjoys extraterritorial rights similar to foreign embassies for a number of properties across Rome and Italy. This includes the grounds of the Pontifical Palace, between the towns of Castel Gandolfo and Albano Laziale south of Rome. It is not open to the general public, but I’ve been there. In addition to the Pontifical Palace, there is quite an impressive set of gardens, the ruins of the old palace of the Roman Emperor Domitian, and the meteorite and history-of-science collections of the Vatican Observatory (which was why I visited). They cover 55 hectares, larger than the 44 hectares of Vatican City itself.

    There are also a limited number of Vatican City – branded euro coins, produced in a number agreed upon by treaty with the EU and mostly sold to collectors for far more than face value.

  • Richard Wade

    Thank you, Michael, for the explanation. I too am curious about why jl chose to convert, and especially why, so newly planted, he or she has come to visit an atheist site. I’m not interested in pouncing on his reasons as if I were two she bears. I’m just curious to hear his or her experience of certainty that might lead to the conversion, and about his or her experience of questioning, that might lead to visiting this site.

  • Jason Horton

    Given the things that the Catholic church is responsible for I’d say that this video was enormously respectful. More respect that I could manage.

  • Rain

    I respect them for all of the brutal dictators they excommunicated.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    I learned from the video. Now it’s your turn to learn, if you can.

    Please don’t kiss and run, there’s so much more to talk about.

  • MD

    Was anything in this video non-factual? Or was the lack of awe and veneration in the tone of it confused for unfriendliness?

  • Xander

    There are so few women in the Vatican that they don’t even show up as a percentage of the population…
    A perfect illustration of how much power and influence women actually have in the Catholic Church.

  • Max Bingman

    We love Catholics. Most of us have catholic families and friends, I myself was raised Catholic, and not just the twice a year Easter and Christmas kind. My confirmation name was Joseph.
    But we don’t love a lot of what the Catholic church does. When people tell us how intolerant we are for not tolerating the church’s intolerance, then yes, we hit back. That’s where respect gets lost.
    We want people to have their religious freedom. We’re just not going to allow anyone to hold society back in the dark ages over it.

  • maddogdelta

    [Iseewhatyoudidthere.jpg] :)

  • Renshia

    Ha ha ha.. come on, you really didn’t, did you? You converted to catholicism? Have you no self respect? Have you no brain? Do you not care about what type of people or organization you associate yourself with? Are you stupid?
    You really shouldn’t tell people stuff like that. It is an embarrassment to humanity that there are still people around who are stupid enough to fall for that crap.

  • allein

    I was wondering the same thing myself; it surprised me that the very first comment on this post, of all posts, was “hey, you’re not very friendly!”…I see nothing unfriendly about this post, and I imagine a lot of Catholics don’t fully understand just how Vatican City, as a country, works, either. I don’t even see the video as particularly critical of Catholicism. (Also I can’t help but wonder if jl even understands your “two she bears” reference.)

  • Debbie

    I took RCIA classes as an adult (and have since – 10 years ago – left the Church because I realized their teachings actually weren’t based on equality and respect for all.) The Catholic Church only respects views that mirror their own. Test it out for yourself; during your next RCIA class, start critically questioning the teachings. Demand that your instructors provide evidence and sound reasoning for what they want you to believe. If you value truth, you will not fear questioning authority. Your instructors’ responses will quickly have you come to understand that being Catholic means abandoning truth for blind obedience. Now you have to ask yourself, would you want you own children adhering to this Church rule?

  • Michael W Busch

    Watch it with the personal insults. There are many people of entirely normal intelligence and self-esteem who convert to Catholicism. People do strange things.

  • Renshia

    No there isn’t.

  • Michael W Busch

    I am confused. What do you mean by “No there isn’t.” ?

    Smart people sometimes do things that are wrong, so some of what you wrote to jl is not appropriate. The rest is good questions, in particular: “Do you not care about what type of people or organization you associate yourself with?” – I would like to see jl’s answer to that one.

  • Renshia

    There isn’t “many people of entirely normal intelligence and self-esteem who convert to Catholicism”.
    There just isn’t, there are many that have been indoctrinated since birth, there are a few that look for guidance and get sucked into believing that Catholicism is an authority to be believed, but I would think that there are very few if any people of “normal intelligence” that would join this abomination. If you look at the stats of new members for catholic churches, even the stats disagree with you.

  • Renshia

    Also why should we pretend it is perfectly okay to “believe what ever you want” when it comes to religion? Why should we not point out and ridicule anyone that would hold that type of beliefs as okay. They’re dangerous and cause huge amounts of damage all over the world, but we should just ignore that?

    Sorry I disagree.

  • Michael W Busch

    Do you have a citation for your claim? I do not know anyone who has done psychometrics on RCIA catechumens.

    Also, getting sucked into believing that Catholicism is an authority to be believed does _not_ indicate a lack of intelligence. It indicates believing something that is wrong.

  • Michael W Busch

    I did not say that it was okay to “believe what ever you want”. To the contrary – we can and should attack all wrong ideas and beliefs. But unjustified personal insults are not appropriate.

    (Note the qualifier -”unjustified”. If someone says one thing and does another, we could call them a hypocrite. If someone says two contradictory things, we could call them a liar. But just because someone is wrong does not justify insulting their intelligence.)

  • Anna

    As an atheist, I believe in treating people with respect. A religion is not a person. Religion is not owed deference or respect. Religious claims and the actions of religious leaders and religious institutions can be questioned, criticized, and condemned, and that is not something that anyone needs to apologize for.

    A lot of religious people seem to think that we are obligated to treat their religion with kid gloves simply because it is religion. To me, religion is no different from politics. If I have a problem with what a political party advocates, I’m certainly not going to stay silent about it. I can be friendly to members of that party and will certainly treat those individuals with respect, but their political beliefs are not immune from criticism.

  • Anna

    Intelligent, sure, but I do wonder about their self-esteem. Is it even possible that someone would choose to join Catholicism without also believing that they were deeply, inherently flawed in some way?

  • Carmelita Spats

    I agree with you. You can be intelligent, full of self esteem, and be highly immoral, narcissistic (“It’s MY salvation, damn everything else”), to the point of becoming part of an organized crime syndicate that continues to engage in the sexual torture of children; especially in the Third World.

  • Carmelita Spats

    The vicious, dehumanizing, aggressive politics of your violent cult deserve NO respect. You CHOOSE to belong to an organized crime syndicate that protects pedophiles. Child rape sickens me to no end and apologists for rape bring out the very “Kracken” in me.

  • Michael W Busch

    The stereotype of Catholic guilt does have some basis in fact. But there’s also the ego required to assert some of the things the Catholic hierarchy does – perhaps self-esteem is not quite the right word for that.

  • Stev84

    Catholic converts are always the most fervent and most crazy

  • Sids

    Speaking from my own experience, that is simply a false statement. Around my university, the most vocal Christians will often be from rather unreligious countries.

    Typically they will be international students from SE Asia who have found themselves on the other side of the world from their friends and families. Church groups jump at the opportunity to reach out to them as social support groups. Most have little understanding of religion itself – they were brought up away from it (many are unaware that there are different types of Christianity, and know little more of the teachings than there is a spirit that looks after you). Many consider Western countries as religious places and so they feel they are doing what they need to fit in. Before long they take it very seriously (albeit, no less uninformed).

    These are people at the top of their post graduate classes in a highly regarded university, and doing so in a second language. If you consider them ‘dumb’, then you are ignorant of the definition. It’s circumstances, not just a lack of intelligence that leads to conversions.

  • Sids

    Correction: you used the word ‘stupid’, not ‘dumb’, I should be more careful of that. The rest if the point still stands.

  • Matt D

    Is that the same level of respect you give them for the children they’ve abused?

  • Matthew Delemos

    If you were worthy of respect, you wouldn’t be using an anonmyous identity to ask for it.

  • Christophe Mensaert

    and it is the very problem of the VATICAN today, my opinion is that they clearly have done everything to PUSH women OUT of the top of the church, because they know the real divine is a woman.


    Wanna know the real truth that the vatican stole you ? This planet has been created to BE SHARED (on ressource base) between every human who is willing to live with respect for his planet.. And from this SHARING SYSTEM we would have been really closer to paradise, since we have gone the opposite way (SHARING SELLING (only the devil acts this way by wanting to SELL EVERYTHING) Can you understand that for diving beings a planet and what it has to offer HAS TOO MUCH VALUE to be able to put a price on it??

    I think you can if you are truthfull.


    LIFE HAS NO VALUE ITS WORTH TOOO MUCH. YOU CANT STICK A VALUE ON IT, LIKE WE DO BY ACCEPTING SALARY VALUES like a men gaining 1000 dollar would be worth almost nothing and a guy earning 10 000 would be more.

    IT’s NOT HUMAN AND CERTAINLY NOT DIVINE TO STICK A VALUE TO A HUMAN BEING ESPECIALLY WHEN IT PUSHES humans away from eachother raising differences in VALUE between them making them look to eachother like if they were strangers :-).

    Sorry if my comment was “capped”. Have fun reading guys. Think WITH YOUR HEART IF YOU STILL HAVE IT.