Can the ‘Infallible’ Pope Apologise?

Using the terms "jihad" and "holy war", the Pope said: “violence was incompatible with the nature of God", in the speech delivered at Bavaria on 14th September, 2006. How does his view reconcile with the central Christian doctrine of crucifixion, which is based on gruesome violence?

The doctrine claims that Jesus, the only ‘begotten son’ of God was tortured to death in order to redeem the sins of mankind. Commonsense tells us that God has sufficient powers to save his son or anyone from such torment. But he deliberately did not, otherwise there would have no crucifixion. Therefore, the violence inflicted on Jesus was part of the divine scheme, intrinsically linking violence to the central doctrine of Pauline Christianity.

If God permitted such ghastly violence on his own son, then violence could not have been contrary to his nature as suggested by the Pope. It seems that the Pope has overlooked his central religious doctrine from the New Testament that is based on bloodshed. Furthermore, the Old Testament has ample examples of indiscriminate violence, with explicit reference to killing everyone including women and children. “At that time we captured all his towns, and each town we utterly destroyed men, women and children. We left no single survivor." (Deuteronomy 2:31-34). For this reason, the 2nd century Christian theologian, Marcion of Sinope, denounced the Old Testament. His movement at the time rivalled what was to become Catholicism.

In fact, God permits (through free will) violence all the time, as we see it occurring everyday. He also commands us to engage in violence in defence of our lives, property and honour. Furthermore, God also permits/decrees violence (deaths) and destruction in the form of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, plagues etc and thus how can violence be contrary to God’s nature. The Pope has made a fundamental error in terms of theology because, it is irrational and impossible to try and delve into the nature of God, as the created human beings cannot comprehend its creator, the uncreated. All we can recognise is the existence of God.

Everyone is asking why did the Pope turn a blind eye to the violence perpetrated by the Christians right under his nose? Like the Catholic Tony Blair, he claims that he had divine guidance/inspiration to invade and murder Iraqis. Yet the ‘infallible’ Pope did not have the will and the moral courage to actively restrain and oppose the fallible Tony Blair from murdering innocent people in distant lands, after lecturing about how he deplores violence. Likewise, George Bush, also a Christian, claims to have a hotline to God, who apparently ordered Bush to murder Iraqis, Afghanis and anyone else who opposes ‘freedom’ –” that is ‘freedom’ of America of course!

Now, how does crucifixion work in terms of guidance for its followers? Because, the notion of killing an innocent man (Jesus) for the crimes of others is diametrically opposed to the natural concept of justice, which dictates that we only punish the guilty party? Pope referred to reason, logic but his fundamental doctrine of crucifixion is irrational.

It could be argued that crucifixion is an example of some kind of human sacrifice that is seen in some of the ancient religions and it is alien to monotheism. In the context of the current political situation, the event could also be viewed as a suicide operation, where Jesus willingly sacrifices himself to clean the sins of mankind! Let us not forget the feminists, who could also argue that if sacrificing a man was sufficient for both genders, than surely woman are lesser being according to the Catholic/Christian doctrine.

The furore was primarily caused by citing the derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from the 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus who was debating a Persian intellectual. The emperor said: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached". We do not know who the Persian is, or how he responded. Apparently his response is not recorded in that detail. So why did the Pope felt the need to cite a bigoted remark from a source that is incomplete, therefore biased? Does this conform to reason and logic which he refers to in his speech?

The Pope used the derogatory and bigoted remarks of Emperor Manuel to make the case that spreading faith by the sword is wrong. Implying that only Islam endorsed forced conversion and only the Muslims have done this in the past – neither is true. Islam forbids forced conversion and the Muslims have never practiced this in the past. This type of propaganda sounds like the words of a Medieval Pope who waged the bloody crusades and kept Europe in the dark for centuries.

I hope the followers of the Pope will have courage to remind him that it is the Catholic Church (not the Muslims) who has practiced forced conversion for centuries. The obvious example is the brutal Spanish inquisition, when the Jews and the Muslims were indiscriminately slaughtered or expelled or forced to convert to Catholicism, with the direct approval of the Vatican. In Latin America, from the time of the barbaric Conquistadores, forced conversion to Catholicism has been used with mass murder and genocide.

In an attempt to backtrack, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of the State of Vatican, said that the academic speech was meant as "a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come". In that case why did the Pope not lead by examples, by self-criticising Christianity’s violent past and present before commenting on the other faiths? During the Bosnian war when the Christian Serbs were raping and pillaging the Bosnians for simply being Muslims, the Vatican and the Pope was hypocritically silent. Was that because this sort of violence reminded Pope Benedict of the Medieval Crusades which he secretly desires for?

There are ample other examples of violence emanating from the Christians, and here are some prominent ones: the medieval bloody crusades, persecution of the Jews for centuries, slaughter of million in Latin America, enslaving and colonisation of Africa, brutal Spanish inquisition, the Lebanese Christian’s massacre of the Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, the killing of the Algerians by the French. Yet, the Pope has the audacity to lecture the Muslims or anyone else about violence.

It is well-known that the Vatican collaborated with the Nazis. Adolf Hitler was baptized as a Roman Catholic, he was raised as a Catholic, and later as head of Germany he continued to affirm his Christian faith. Talking about the Nazis, the Pope in his earlier years served the Nazi regime. The official line now is: he was forced to join the Hitler Youth at the age of 14, as was required of young Germans of the time, but he was not an enthusiastic member.

However, we will never know how enthusiastic the Pope was as the Nazis lost the war –” if they had won, we would have seen a different Pope Benedict altogether. The inclination towards the Nazis, the absence of a non-European (especially non-White) Pope, the statements of the Pope, and his behavior in entertaining bigots like the Oriana Fallaci, points to the racist nature of the Catholic Church. No wonder Christianity has been Latinised (Europeanised) over the centuries, thus distancing it from its Hebrew roots. He is keen to maintain a racially pure Christian Europe, hence he told the Turks to seek its partnership with the Islamic world and not Europe. No doubt the Vatican will remain white, and its leadership will also remain White European for the foreseeable future.

Eventually, a cosmetic apology was issued from the Vatican. The secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said in a statement on Saturday that the Pope "had absolutely no intention" of presenting Emperor Manuel’s opinions on Islam as his own. In that case why did he cite the Emperor’s derogatory statement? The Pope uses his statement to corroborate his own opinion. For him to say now that he is “sorry” if any offense was caused, and have the chutzpah to suggest that Muslims have misunderstood him, is hardly being honest.

If the ‘apology’ was genuine it would presents another dilemma, as words of the Pope are infallible according to the Vatican and the millions of its followers. So how can the infallible Pope even admit to making a mistake and hence apologise, especially to those infidels who are outside the fold of Christianity?