The pope, providence, and me

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According to resent newspaper articles the controversy about Pope Benedict XVl’s decision to reinstate Bishop Richard Williamson has been grossly misunderstood by the media. Religion in general goes like this: “Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion—several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbour as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven…the higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter.” (Mark Twain) Having a 10-year-old Australian shepherd as my best friend, companion and confident, I wonder why? This act of reinstating might offer a clue or two.

According to Richard Gail, a professor of Catholic studies, “Pope Benedict doesn’t have that or think that way. (Referring to Pope John Paul II’s ability’s of creating symbolic gestures). “In Benedict’s own mind, he is addressing certain issues that have a theological and doctrinal logic to them. And he doesn’t think about or consider…the larger consequences of his actions.” Doesn’t sound good for the Pope now does it? In the Pope’s mind, his Holiness was attempting to bring home lost sheep, namely the 20 odd thousand who follow ultra-orthodox beliefs under the name of St. Pius X. If this would have been the Cathars of the 11th century the Pope could have just had them killed, but that was then, and today is now. Understanding this action we are told His Holiness also had to accept Bishop Williamson, and not his anti-Semitic views. This guy doesn’t believe the Holocaust took place. There were no gas chambers. He applauds the work of Ernst Zündel. Bishop Williamson espouses that Freemasons and Jews are out for world domination. If this not loony enough, he also has suggested that U.S. government is behind 9/11. Not crazy enough? He believes that The Sound of Music is “a pornographic movie and that no self-respecting person should ever watch it.” Now I’ve heard of trusting in Providence, and I know personally from my experience with Providence, it has not been of a nature to give me great confidence in his judgment, for I accept as a truism that my wife crept into my life while his attention must had been occupied dealing with this harebrained bishop.

Speaking of harebrained ideas, did the pope not understand that this move would upset the Jewish community, let alone his own German people? This pope is, by nationality, a German. There is little doubt that his popularity in Germany is falling for Germans still to this day are stressed about the Holocaust. Why isn’t the pope? According to news reports, the German Central Council of Jews said that “this will break off all ties with Catholic churches over this move.”

There is little hesitation on my part to the validity that the test of any religion, or philosophy for that matter, is the number of things it can explain. But here the Pope explains neither art, nor society, nor history and to that end his action needs explaining. Pope Benedict is just in a long line of popes who have historically resisted change. The church has opposed every innovation and discovery from Galileo down to our own time, from the use of anesthetics in childbirth, which was regarded as a sin because it avoided the biblical curse pronounced against Eve, to abortion, and most recently, in vitro fertilization, so what should we have expected when it came to sensitivity of Jews and the Holocaust? It strongly appears that in the pope’s mind, something else is more important.

Many have long believed that when you have a system where the concentration of power is in a political machine it is bad. An established church is only a political machine—it was invented for that; it is nursed, cradled, preserved for that; historically it has not been a friend to human liberty, and does little to nothing to advance science other than to reinforce its own position, which must stabilize its beliefs. Pope Benedict was trying to return to the good old days before the insightfulness of Vatican II of Pope Paul XXIII, and in so doing Pope Benedict wants to return Latin in mass and return to having the priest face the altar while celebrating mass. To most these might be small things, but to the elite of the church this is big stuff and to get all to return to the pre-Vatican II period the Holy Father’s reopened old, painful wounds of embarrassments and shame with Germans and most of the Christian world. I was always led to believe that the type of reform that the Pope is seeking here, must come from within, not from without. But then again I also was taught that proverb says that Providence protects children and idiots. This is really known to be true, because I have tested it several times.

After considerable media attention and a ton of complaints, His Excellence hosted a delegation of the Major American Jewish Organization leaders, expressing his contempt for Holocaust deniers but refused thus far to repeal Bishop Williamson’s excommunication, which can only be perceived by outsiders as the Pope still attempting to have his cake and keep it, too. The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example. In so doing they could consider Mark Twain’s suggestion that says, “so much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: ‘Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor’s religion is.’ Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code.” Let’s keep moving forward, please, and leave the radicals like Bishop Williamson to his own.

Organizations: German Central Council, Major American Jewish Organization

Geographic location: Providence, U.S., Germany Vatican

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