Faking Deitiship Can
By James Donahue
Pope Benedict XVI found
himself in a strange dilemma after he made a public statement that triggered the wrath of the Islamic people who wanted an
apology. But a deity on Earth should never have to apologize because he never makes mistakes, right?
When you think about
his quandary you have to feel sorry for the guy. After all, behind all the gold and glitter is a German named Joseph Ratzinger
who is quite human. The Catholic Church raises the position of Pope to that of a representative of God, or
liason between Heaven and Earth and acting on behalf of the church members. That puts him somewhere on the level
of Jesus Christ and since Christ is, in the eyes of the church, the Son of God, the Pope must appear infallible.
As the head of what some
say is the largest religious organization in the world, with an estimated 1.1 billion members, the Pope is in a position of
great political power and influence. This means that a lot of people not only believe in his relationship with God, but they
lean on his every word.
His problem is that he
chose to jump into the Islamic fray and speak publicly against the practice of jihad against so-called enemies of Moslem believers.
He could have kept his
remarks on a basic level and pointed out that the Prophet Mohammad did not teach or would not condone interpreting jihad as
suicide bombings that kill innocent men, women and children. Instead he sought to make an intellectual comment. He probably
had one of his scribes at the Vatican research historical remarks against Islamic jihad.
The quote was reportedly
made by a Fourteenth Century Christian emperor in what was said to have been the context of a dialogue with a Persian wise
man. But it was an insensitive and erroneous thing for that Fourteenth Century emperor to have said. It was said in the midst
of the crusades between the church and Moslem world. Thus it was even a grave error for the Pope to have chosen
that statement for his speech before a room full of Catholic hierarchy in Regensburg,
When he said it the Pope
was in a room filled with Catholics in a university setting, and the words sounded pious and suitable for an intellectual
crowd. He probably never dreamed that the statement could be taken out of context and leaked from that room to the Islamic
radicals, and that it would inflame them as it did.
While it was perhaps
humorous to watch such a pompous character as the Pope squirm as he attempted to resolve this impasse with the Islamic clerics,
we see this situation as another serious flaw in religious thinking. It is the kind of trouble that could lead the
world straight down a path to open warfare.
The Moslem leaders are
quite right when they said such thinking pushes the world back into the dark ages, during the time of the Crusades. For those
who don’t know their history, that was a period when Christians slaughtered Islamic believers. These were military campaigns
sanctioned by the Pope and designed to drive the Moslems from the Holy Land.
There is perhaps a lesson
to be learned in all of this. Those who claim to possess spiritual powers over others can also make missteps. This is because
they share the same human frailties but their pride and exhaulted position prevents them from making this known.