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Does Benedict Ever Think About These Things?

“Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny” (Caritas in Veritate, 29).”

Pope Benedict XVI

I am not saying this sarcastically: I genuinely wonder if it has ever occurred to Benedict that when he lies for political gain, such as he almost certainly did in his relatively recent Holyroodhouse speech, he discredits not just himself as a person, but his church as an institution, and his religion as a source of sound morals? Or does he instead calculate that he can, for one reason or another, escape any negative consequences of his lying for political gain?  And if he does make such a calculation, is he right?

It’s my opinion the Pope is most likely calculating he will gain more than he will lose from his lies.  That is, I think he knows or suspects his lies will alienate some people — mainly atheists, freethinkers, and so forth.  But he also believes his lies will gain him what he wants with far more people than those he alienates — with devout Catholics, for instance.

Those are my hunches, but I can’t say I’m a mind reader.  Still, I’m curious what goes through a Pope’s head when he does something, such as lies for political gain and at the expense of others, that would seem to contradict the ethos of his alleged lord and master, Jesus?

Does Benedict ever regret his behavior?


21 thoughts on “Does Benedict Ever Think About These Things?”

  1. There was widespread support for Hitler and the Nazi Party in Britain before WWII. Britain was then and still is a segregated society based on race and class. As for the Vatican, read your own history Pope Benedict.


  2. I’m curious what goes through a Pope’s head when he does something

    As Man of Roma, allow me this tirade 😉

    There have been many different popes in history. The component ‘spiritual leader’, ‘shepherd of souls’ and so forth was present in many of them, but in ALL of them (or almost) the other component, more secular, of head of a world-wide power, is stronger. Which implies the use of realpolitik.

    Why for example the great Polish Pope who contributed to the fall of communism was more appreciated by the big politicians of the planet (who flocked to his funeral) and less by the spiritual gurus of our time?

    The Vatican is a political institution. Even in Germany the Dalai Lama resulted more popular – 44% – than the German Pope Benedict XVI – 42% -, a datum emerged from a poll published by Der Spiegel in July 2007.

    The Vatican is somewhat Imperial Rome resurrected into Catholic Rome, exerting her government not on nations any more but on the minds of men.

    Suffice it to consider how Christianity won.

    Believers can say it is because it was the true religion, it was the will of God. But in truth it was the Roman emperors who chose the Christians as allied to the Empire. They needed ideological strength to cement a huge structure with hundreds of folks coexisting. This is how Christianity won over paganism.

    Often fanatic monks were used as terrorists to destroy all that was Pagan. See what happened to Hypatia, or to the wonderful temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

    Frankly, without Emperor Constantine and Theodosius I don’t know if the West would be Christian today.

    So what goes through a Pope’s head? Realpolitik, but not only, one must not exaggerate.


  3. I think one thing that is telling is the equation of atheism to extremism. Much like “fundamentalist” is always preceded “Islamic”, “Atheist” seems always to be followed by “extremist.” That’s not far from the look I see on people’s faces if it ever comes up that I am an atheist, a look of betrayal and disappointment, although I am still the same nice guy as I was before.


  4. It’s a calculated risk based on a shrewd cost-benefit analysis — analogous to Pfizer’s coldly calculated decision to promote a drug its researchers and decision makers know will most certainly cause death. The gross profits will far exceed the damages it has to pay out in class action lawsuits. Benedict is banking on bilking the willfully uninformed who he knows blindly trust him to pronounce the cure.


  5. He should regret telling lies and he should regret being perceived as having special direct consideration by Christ. I believe the best approach for emulating Christ currently is DADT among common occurrences. Atheist are usually EXTREME as in extremely intelligent.

    As a group; Atheist have a closer relationship with Christ or God than the Pope ever does. They think of God more frequently than the Pope for sure. Atheist think of God every time they object to His existence and every time they view the Scarlett A. They consider God every time they see a popular “christian” sin and therefore they consider God very often when wondering how “christians” call them extremest or look at them with disappointment or betrayal. I assume most atheist accept God and Christ and everything they rejected their entire lives in the last microseconds of their lives.


  6. @Sean G
    @The Cognitive Dissenter
    @Curtis Neeley

    I have to confess I am not an Atheist, I am an Agnostic. I like all possible attitudes, provided there is no fanaticism. Mine is a secular history-of-religions approach. I am interested in human cultures, and religion is at the centre of almost any of them, and influences both atheists and non atheists. Once can have a Calvinist, Lutheran or Catholic approach to things and be an atheist, for example.


  7. Benedict isn’t in the morality business — he’s in the power business. I doubt he regrets any of it for a moment as long as it helps cement the church’s power.


  8. First, MoR, please allow me to get this off my chest: In my opinion, you have made major contributions to this blog with your thoughtful, knowledgeable, and — if I can be permitted to emphasize this word — wise insights. So, please, never worry about offering your views here. I would be pleased if you thought of yourself as an especially honored and valued guest of this blog.

    Second, what you say makes me wonder if any pope has done an extremely good job balancing realpolitik with his role as a spiritual leader?


  9. You know, Curtis, I agree with you that atheists are sometimes more spiritual than theists. I think you and I have two different sets of reasons for arriving at the same conclusion, but I find it interesting that we do indeed arrive at the same conclusion here.


  10. MoR: “One can have a Calvinist, Lutheran or Catholic approach to things and be an atheist, for example.”

    That strikes me as both true and very thoughtful. Just yesterday, I was discussing with my friend Don how much we are influenced by our culture. In light of that discussion, it is quite easy this morning for me to see how someone, raised in, say, a Lutheran culture might bring a Lutheran point of view even to atheism.


  11. MoR makes the interesting point, Ahab, that the Pope is both a spiritual leader and a politician — and that he does not always balance those two roles very well, but instead might favor one role over the other. Does his favoring one role over the other explain why he is not so much in the morality business these days? What do you think? You are a student of these things.


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