Pope Benedict’s rallying call to Christians

According to the NY Times magazine, Pope Benedict’s ambition is to bring back Europe to it’s Catholic roots. His argument according to NY times is : “Secularism may be one of the great developments in history, but the secularism that holds sway in much of the West is flawed. The mistaken conviction that reason and faith are two distinct realms has weakened Europe and brought it to the verge of catastrophic collapse'”

These are really dangerous and inflammatory words. Through the centuries the addiction to faith beyond reason has led to some of the most gory chapters of European history. From the Crusades right up to the Spanish Inquisition and beyond. Modern day thinking MUST be based on the ‘questioning individual’. One that has no blind addiction to faith but is constantly encouraged to question faith through reason and understanding. And then make up his/her own mind.
In the search for their own individuality in an increasingly complex world, people look for simple solutions. And therefore are easily led by rhetoric . Exactly the kind we blame the Islamic religious leaders for.
This is not the time for confrontation between the two most powerful faiths in the world. But time for Secularism and Reason. And who better than the leaders of each faith to promote that.
Such as the Pope himself.

10 thoughts on “Pope Benedict’s rallying call to Christians

  1. In the west, many many people — including a great many Roman Catholics — are very uncomfortable with Benedict’s leadership, because of his theological rigidity and political clumsiness and insensitivity. We who feel this way are holding our collective breath, and praying he will discuss his future words and actions extensively with advisers whose experience is more up-to-date and on-the-ground-based, and that he will re-open the private dialogues between east and west that he was responsible for shutting down, even before he was elected Pope.
    While Roman Catholics aknowledge the Pope as their titular and spiritual leader, they did not elect him, and they have to suffer the decisions the College of Cardinals made on their behalf. Roman Catholics are people who do not have as rigid a view of other religions as their leader might lead one to believe. For the most part, Roman Catholics will accept the spiritual direction of the Pope, but not necessarily the theological direction. They will reserve judgement on that, and pretty much act on their individual consciences. This dynamic, of separating a response to church authority into the spiritual and the theological, and accepting one without accepting the other, had been active in the Roman Catholic church for at least a half-century. Many of my relatives are Roman Catholic, and I understand this dynamic, and its motives, strength and probable persistence, intimately.

  2. Secularism is a much abused term in India, so it must be true in other countries too. Here, we hold a semblance of secularism, but in western countries it doesn’t even exist.
    Post 9/11, it wasn’t just the muslims who were targeted by the American or British public; anyone not white enough was a target of their hatred.
    Religion is just a means to reach the ultimate goal; and it provides us with the tools to go ahead with our search of our self. We’ve to learn the basics, and then find our way through in this world. For each person, the path will be different according to their experiences. Instead of using the tools for our benefit, we’re using it to hurt one another.
    But how can we blame the common man when the religious leaders propagate the wrong message!
    Which faith requires us to fight one another? They ask us to be good human beings first, but other than that, we do everything else. We fight for a faith that we’re not even following correctly.
    If Jesus forgave his tormentors, then his followers are killing people who are innocent. Look at the innocents killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. Does any religion advocate that? And the religious leaders are quiet about these killing.

  3. Religion is the opium of the masses, and popes and mullahs are the CEOs of the opium farms. Deaddiction of the masses is not in their interest at all.

  4. That was a good post. Religion is the reason why I think science is way better.
    Shekhar, I would encourage you to read Richard Dawkin’s ‘The God Delusion’. Its a sumptuously intellectual read.

  5. Pope Benedict’s many statements and actions are a cause for alarm – his not-so-disguised attempts to commandeer the debate in chirstendom toward cathoclism has other dangerous motives too.
    This whole facetous argument of ‘right reasoning ‘ – that leads one to abanson all forms of tolerence and political-secularism in favor of an intolerent creed , in this case Christianity – is not a first !
    This has happened before and small minded people in high social or religious positions have spelt the ruin of their times.
    If Pope Benedict has his way , then the soul of India has a lot to worry about – his agenda to ‘reap a rich harvest of faith’ in India is the work of a compulsive proselytyser’s mind .
    Thats where the problem starts and ends – India nor its true spirituality can never be subdued !
    This kind of cloaked extremism will be the cause for more reactive extremism . We need all exclusivistic ideas to be abandoned before the destiny of Humankind can be truly free of containment by a set of ‘ours way is the only way’ guys !

  6. Fighting over religion is the silliest thing humans can do. But the role of religious extremists in maintaining the cultural identity of any society cannot be ignored. Danger arises when extremism is largely accepted as also when it is largely denounced. Christian and Islamic extremism, according to me, have already reached dangerous levels (of course that is generally speaking and a personal viewpoint and will not hold true for every individual or society). It is for this reason that I think it becomes necessary to criticise the Pope’s comments.
    I know shekhar is stressing on the reason and faith part of the statement. I am commenting on the secularism part and going a little beyond his comments. Ok…to put it bluntly and a little controversially if a similar kind of comment was made by any Hindu leader to promote Hinduism I don’t think it would deserve the same amount of criticism. And thats not bcos I am a Hindu. LOL.

  7. If white Europeans contributed more than anyone else to the development and growth of Christianity, as Pope Benedict would argue, then white people should be able to define our own Christian morality, establish our own Christian standards of behavior, and judge everyone else accordingly. But, of course, white people don’t have a monopoly on Christ. Christ’s teachings were intended for all of humanity and apply equally to all. To argue that one nation or group did more to advance Christianity is to argue that, while all people are equal in the eye’s of God, some of us are more equal than others. Is this what we want to teach our children?

  8. no, timw u r right , that is not the intended message of any religion, and certainly not Christ’s message. The problem in all religions in the world is that when Christ turns into Christianity, Buddha turns into Buddhism, the Koran turns into Islam. there is so much lost in interpretation. Shekhar

  9. Dear Shekhar,
    I am neither Catholic nor Christian, but I am sad that so many people seem to misunderstand the Pope. Yes, he made a number of insensitive remarks which were a big mistake and I am sure he deeply regretted it. He is not as rigid as many people say – the rigidity was part of his previous job, and has changed very much since he became the Pope. Anyway, I think his remarks are not as inflammatory as you think they are. What he means is that the West suffers from a spiritual poverty that is beyond comprehension (I am inclined to believe that you might agree, having read your poem on LA). The God over here is the ego, and the Pope knows that this is fatal to a community. By criticizing secularism he does not mean we should bring politics and religion back together, he means that our values should be informed by a deeper respect and love for the mysteries of creation (for which God may or may not be responsible) – but ideally this stance should affect political decisions, too. Flawed secularism to the Pope is, as far as I can see, ruthless capitalism, egotism, the spirit of rebellion and disrespect, not being able to share, and ultimately the loss of meaning/ability to construct meaning. And by faith I think he means spirituality more than “blind faith” as you put it – although I agree that in the Christian tradition the concept of faith is rather anti-intellectual, but I hope the Pope is working on a solution there because he is an intellectual himself. And finally something personal: if I could make a wish (having been brought up in a completely secular household with no God to worship except reason): I wish I was able to pray.

  10. Hi,
    I think we are living in a corporate world. And everything is corporatised here and sold as a product, including religion. In which case, if religion is a product then you have brands like chritianity, Hinduism, Islam etc. And in each brand you get different flavours such as Catholic, Protestent etc. in christianity; Shia, sunni in Islam and so-on and so-forth. I believe its the differences which motivate people towards a sense of purpose, than similarities. Thats why even after Pakistan being carved out of India on the grounds of an Islam state, today the people of Pakistan have identified new ways of recognising their differences. I feel terrorism is actually a multinational company, and all the terrorist are professionals. If we solve all the issues of the world today, for example Kashmir issue solved amicably, Israel-Palestine problem solved, trust me…there will be more problems than the world has ever seen. There will be unemployment of Biblical scale for one because terrorist wouldn’t have anything to do, 99 percent of politicians who thrive on divide and rule policy will no longer have there authority recognised therefore jobless, arms dealers will have nothing to do, even Gods would have their importance compromised. Therefore, I believe everybody is a secular till economics and politics take over and we have a rocking life in our hands.

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