Sunday, April 5, 2009

His Holyness the Pope

I cannot say that I am a very religious man, although under the influence of my wife I do start to appreciate the teachings of Buddha. I am much less inspired by the current pope though. In fact the Vatican's history is one littered with crime and murder: witch burnings and torture by its inquisition. On a lesser but still significant scale: I found it "curious" to see President Mugabe being invited at the funeral of Pope John Paul II and to see the Vatican in a state of denial when it concerns its cowardice actions in the second world war. How does anyone embedded in such a history claim any moral leadership?

Let's have a look at today's pope Benedictus XVI. Recently he declared the use of a birth-control pill immoral apparently because it pollutes the environment. More damaging, he reiterated the churches condemnation of the use of condoms and he flatly denies that it helps in the fight against AIDS. This was contradicted by the Lancet recently. Then there is his unfortunate decision to reinstall bishop Richard Williamsen who thinks the holocaust is being highly exaggerated. This is now reverted after much critique. He also seems to lobby for sainthood of pope Pius XII (who had a very doubtful role in dealing with the nazi's in the second world war). The current pontiff also believes that homosexuals should be "cured" and protected against self-destruction.

What was the church's attitude when cases of child abuse in the US started to surface? A comprehensive study finds that child abuse of some form happens in as much as 4% of priests. I would have expected that the only morally justifiable action is to immediately remove these priests from the church and let the law bring them to justice. No,in many cases the priests were allowed to move to another parish and keep practicing there. In fact, pope Benedictus seemed to be involved in a secret document that instruct how to cover up child abuse, putting the churches' interest always ahead of child safety. I cite: "The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated."
For more reading see this Wikipedia article.

The Vatican has enormous power over people, and its not helping to solve the challenges of this world.

I like to end with a positive note. At least the Roman church inspired (well, perhaps just pay) artists such as Michelangelo to make beautiful art...