Peaceful co-existence

A reader writes:

Yesterday, at the meeting with various religious groups, Pope Francis, (if the translation is accurate) expressed a desire for peaceful co-exsistence among religions.  Since “co-exsistence” is my most hated bumpersticker, this has been worrying me ever since I read it.  No one seems to have noticed it either.  Did you?  I value you opinion on this.

What’s wrong with seeking peaceful co-existence?  Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Paul says, “If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).

My advice: Don’t measure the Church with a bumper sticker.



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  • Tom K.

    If Pope Francis uses the word “imagination” in public, will people worry that he’ll mandate John Lennon songs at Mass?

    I think this last week has revealed that Catholic irrationality over the papacy isn’t just a phenomenon of the extremes.

  • JoAnna

    The problem with the “Co-Exist” number stickers is that the bearers don’t actually mean “co-exist.” They mean, “give up your stupid religious ideas and bow to the whims of secular society.” But that’s too long for a bumper sticker.

    • kenneth

      Be careful at reading hidden meanings too deeply. It’s how John Nash went down his rabbit hole. Worse, you could end up a professor in “symbology” in a Dan Brown novel, with a hideous haircut!

      • Blog Goliard

        For me, it’s not hidden meanings that set me off, but the entirely un-hidden smugness.

        Though it shouldn’t. I’m trying to train myself to be a better person by having gratitude for the message of peace and overlooking the smug. (Next time I’m going to try to train myself to do something easier, like play the accordion while riding a unicycle.)

        Yes, cheap grace needs to be identified, and people called on it, when necessary. But surely the mere fact that someone drives around a peaceable American college town with a Coexist bumper sticker is not, by itself, enough to send us down that road.

      • Jon W

        I’m going to back JoAnna on this. She’s got it right. COEXIST is not what that bumper sticker means. EMBRACE INDIFFERENTISM is what that sticker means. You don’t have to be in the head of every single person who ever put it on their car in order to know that.

    • Mike

      Yes I know what you mean and I agree. But slicing and dicing every word and gesture is not helpful. If we aren’t for peace (just peace I know plus all the other caveats) what are we for?

  • Liam

    Those bumper stickers make me think of Abp. Sheen’s comments about the command “coexist.” He said it’s what you tell preschoolers and inmates. No lover grabs his beloved and says they will coexist until the sands of the desert grow cold.

    • Jmac

      I guess I’m doing it wrong then.

  • W. Keith Moore

    Pope Francis is just what the Church needs right now. And this is not an opinion, it’s the Truth. The Cardinals voted, guided by The Holy Ghost. Do Catholics believe this anymore?

    • MaryMargaret

      I love Pope Francis, but I don’t necessarily believe that the Cardinals listen to the Holy Spirit. I certainly believe that the Holy Spirit is available and willing to guide them, but they are men with free will. They are not forced to listen. In this case, I believe that they did, but that is only my opinion and in no way rises to the status of “fact”.

  • Irksome1

    I don’t know that “coexistence,” simpliciter, is a value meriting either honor or loathing. Heaven will coexist alongside Hell through all eternity. In fact, this coexistence will even be materially peaceful inasmuch as Hell will lack any resources necessary to work up more than an impotent and futile hatred of its neighbor. It therefore seems that, in accounting coexistence a virtue, an individual risks presumption and idolatry. In reckoning it a vice, an individual risks ingratitude and despair. I detect neither in the Pope’s message and believe he meant for us to direct our attention to the wish that the unavoidable coexistence among different creeds that we are obliged to endure at least be peaceful.

  • Ed the Roman

    For several years, in my town, a woman had a Volkswagen with both a ‘Co-Exist’ sticker and a ‘My Heroes Have Always Killed Cowboys’ sticker. So I don’t draw much infernece about the benevolence of people who have the Co-Exist one.

    • Mark S. (not for Shea)

      So is that bumper sticker supposed to be some sort of pro-Native American joke? If so, it’s remarkable in its historic ignorance. Contrary to Hollywood, cowboys and Indians actually got along quite well for the most part. It was the U.S. Cavalry and the Indians who had all the problems.

  • Half Heathen

    There was a beautiful poster at the March for Life with a drawing of a pregnant woman and her child next to the word “Coexist.” BTW, if anyone happens to know who made the sign, I would love to turn it into a bumper sticker.