A man with a mission
A cute face on a postcard in Rome? The dear sweet Pope? Not at all, this man is dangerous, very dangerous. He is clever too, cleverer than the John Paul II, who for many was an acceptable face for the leader of the hateful* Catholic Church.
He is a man with a mission. A mission to return Europe to its so-called Christian roots (the Roman Empire, later the Holy Roman Empire). For starters he has made a deal with bfellow German, Chancellor Merkel to get her to try to have an explicit reference to the 'Christian roots' of Europe in a new EU consitution.... the absence of which in the constitution rejected by the French and the Dutch was both remarkable and admirable. He has also been to Poland, the most Catholic country in Europe and one which he would like to use as a bridgehead into the rest of Europe, trading off the goodwill engendered by his Polish predecessor.
Pope Benedict, or as we like to know him, Sister Bernadette (given his penchant for red prada shoes) got himself in a bit of trouble recently by quoting a 14th Byzantine Emperor criticising some teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as "evil and inhuman*". (We can come back to these last words later. He even went so far as apologising to Muslims which he had offended.
Yet, to me it would seem as if he has an interest in stirring up tensions between Christians and Muslims and making people afraid of Islam. By seeing Muslims as a threat, there is a chance that non-Muslim Europeans may start identifying themselves as Christians as an antidote to Islam. Indeed, on Question Time last night, a rabid anti-immigration and anti-Muslim member of the public mentioned that we (UK) are a Christian country and blah blah blah. Although I saw a member of the panel bat an eyelid at this suggestion, it was not followed up at all. In small ways like this, I can see a process whereby people really do start believing that we really are Christian countries and what's more, under seige from Muslims who wish to wear a veil, excuse themselves from police duties, go to religious schools, speak in Arabic an so on.....
He is also busy on another front, and this in fact turns out to be the main theme of his famous speech, which is an attack on science. As science increasingly finds explanantions for the way things are in the world and the universe, there becomes a smaller and smaller role for a god in the whole. From the discovery that the world is not flat, that the earth revolves around the sun and not even in a perfect circle, and that the sun is but one of millions and millions of stars in one og millions of galaxies, that living organisms have evolved over millions of years and so on, the church has had to reluctantly give away ground to scientific discoveries and explanations, leaving an ever smaller role for a god. Not a good prospect for a religious leader. Time for a counter attack - The Counter Enlightenment. Be prepared.
As for the hateful side of the church which he leads and the cheek with which he can talk about the teachings of The Prophet being evil and inhuman, let us consider what the Pope says about gays and gay marriage, particularly in the context of the Italian political process, where by the democtratic will of the people, there is a government in place which has promised to at least provide gay people the right to register their partnerships, such that partners begin to recieve some of the rights of partners withing a marriage. He has said:
that the legal recognition of gay partnerships around Europe is "aggression against the family", a "diabolical project" and that this tolerance is "an absurd cult of Satan, a mad desire for transgression, a false liberty without conscience, that exalts caprice, vice and selfishness."
Thanks mate... very humane!
There is evidence, by all accounts, that the church under his direction is directly intervening in Italian politics, in contravention with the Italian constitution, to stop the introduction of legal recognition of gay partnerships. The new Prime Minister, Mr Prodi, a Catholic himself from a Catholic family, appears to be wavering, on the point of breaking promises he made before the election as a result.
In the meantime, this man was in charge for many years in organising cover-ups of paedofile priests around the world using a
secret document which sets out a procedure for dealing with child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. This Crimen Sollicitationis instructs bishops on how to deal with allegations of child abuse against priests was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope. This according to last night's Panorama programme on the BBC, which interviewed a number of the victims of the horrifying practices of these priests. Again, how humane is that?
We aware, be very aware.