Pope Benedict is human

Feb 13, 2013

Pope Benedict is human. There are millions of good, kind, decent people who call themselves Catholic. There have been many jokes about Pope Benedict not faced by Pope John Paul II. Sometimes Pope Benedict has been unfairly attacked. The fact that he was in the Hitler Youth should not be held against him for example; he was a child forced by German law to join. Pope Benedict had a cousin who was killed by Nazis, a cousin killed because his only crime was to live with a disability. The Pope comes from an incredibly religious childhood. Many people who visit this page, ex-religious and sometimes currently religious, can perhaps relate to the Pope’s early life.

Also The Pope’s lack of charisma compared to his predecessor is a stylistic criticism. Consider instead the substance of his record. Pope Benedict:

— lifted the excommunication of a bishop who called Jews “enemies of Christ” and is a holocaust denier. 

— in an interview while on a plane to Africa said that condoms helped spread AIDS, a wildly anti-scientific statement (later modified slightly to say male prostitutes might sometimes use condoms). 

— did not move with any adequate force to sanction bishops involved in sex abuse cover-ups, and in 2001 issued orders for the Catholic hierarchy to clam up about sex abuse. 

— seemed to imply, after the Irish were rocked with Catholic Church scandal after Catholic Church scandal, that loss of religiosity on the part of the Irish people was somehow a demerit to the Irish. 

— strongly embraced the doctrine that women are not to be treated as equal, indeed supported removal of a bishop who even suggested marriage of priests or the possibility of women priests. 

— strongly embraced the doctrine that reproductive and sexual decisions are to be decided by the church, not by individuals regarding their own bodies.

— impeded and discouraged nuns who took progressive stands on issues.

Sadly Pope Benedict’s legacy is indeed probably better than the record of his more charismatic predecessor when it comes to the despicable cover-up of child sex abuse, but it is still a chillingly bad record. And how were these stands justified? 

According the leader of one of the oldest, and one of the (still) most powerful organizations on earth, these stands are justified with one thing: religion. There are millions of good, decent people who call themselves Catholic. Maybe right now is the time to question the underlying premise.  And maybe it is time, perhaps, to recognize, that by being deeply indoctrinated in an ideology not based on evidence, a deeply devoted follower of an ideology imposed since childhood, one can do things that, without religion, that person would never do otherwise. This does not excuse injustice, but it does explain its source. 

Therefore, the response of the non-religious, those who live by evidence, must be a response of compassion for the victims and, indeed, the perpetrators of religious injustice. And most important of all we must organize for a world where children and society learn freely openly, based on evidence, and with reason as the only method – and justice and compassion as the only goals.  

Read two links below:



Sean Faircloth, Dir. of Strategy & Policy, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science.

Written By: Sean Faircloth
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