Goodbye, Pope
April 21 , 2008
by William P. Meyers

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The Pope came to the United States. He raised money. He left. He's a celebrity, like Paris Hilton, but craftier and less honest.
Some 2000 years before the bishops of Rome [the ruling city of the Roman empire hated by Jews and early Christians alike] started peddling the idea that they were dictators-for-life of the Christian churches, Ikhnaton, an emperor of Egypt (Egypt ruled the upper Nile then, and what we now call the nations of Israel (or Palestine), Jordan, Lebanon and Syria) declared there was only one God, Aton, which he identified with all of nature. Eventually Ikhnaton was overthrown and other gods were given their due, but the idea of one god (but not the identity with nature) eventually spread to the Jews, the Christians, and the Moslems. Christians are a bit weak on the idea, with their three-gods-in-one theology, but however much the boys might argue among themselves, the Trinity has always been willing to smite all other gods.
The Pope is a fraud and just about everyone knows it, including many of the nominal Catholics in the U.S. He preaches morality, but if he were moral himself the first thing he would do is stop pretending there is any holiness in clawing your way to the top of the church hierarchy. He might try a few reforms, a little consistency within the framework of Catholicism. He might note that invoking Mary as the Mother of God, and then saying women can't be priests, is a bit off. He might acknowledge, as most Protestant Christians have done, that celibacy and sexual hypocrisy are linked. He might allow priests to marry.
When Luther challenged the Church and lived to tell about it (unlike his heretical predecessors, the Hus and Wycliffe), the Church hierarchy noted that any deviation from Catholic dogma would lead straight to atheism. They were wrong. Honest and truthful enquiry may indeed lead to rejecting the Catholic concept of God, but religious splits are usually thinly disguised political power struggles. Each new faction claims to represent the true God.
The major fascist powers (Germany, Italy, France, Spain), Catholic all, last systematically murdered non-Catholics in the 1930's and 1940's. But things are heating up. Much of the butchery in former Yugoslavia had religious tones as well as ethnic aspects. The possibility of another round of militant Catholicism is quite real. As popes go this one has not been too bad on the military issue. He mainly wants to push the church back to doctrines developed in the dark ages. The problem is once your mindset is in the dark ages, strife is not far afield.
I suppose if we were all taught to believe in Nature, and to try to be objective and ethical in our lives, someone would invent religion and it would spread like wildfire among the imbalanced personalities of the world. The thing I saw growing up Catholic was that the Church was an engine of craziness. It was designed to make people crazy. And yet it had to keep people somewhat functional. Too crazy of a congregation and no one is going to be together enough to tithe. Channeled craziness, that is what religious institutions are looking for. General Franco's soldiers saw no contradiction in thinking of themselves as good Catholics and shooting people in cold blood because their names were on lists of people who had not been attending Mass, compiled by priests who were supposed to be the protectors of their communities.
See my religion pages for more commentary.
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