Monday, December 21, 2009

Saint Nazi I

     Remember back when German Pope Benedict XVI started off the new year with a bang by lifting the excommunication of Lefebvrite and holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson and welcomed him back into the Roman Catholic fold?  Well, apparently that wasn't enough spitting in the face of the world's Jewish population, because over the weekend, Pope Ben presented a grand Hanukkah present: yet another bullet in the back of years of Jewish-Catholic dialogue.

     On Saturday, Pope Ben moved two of his predecessor popes, John Paul II and Pius XII, closer to possible sainthood by signing a decree on the "heroic virtues" of his predecessors and calling for their worthy imitation.  Zenit reports:
     "What pedagogical wisdom is manifested in such an itinerary," the Pope continued [in the decree]. "In a first step, the people of God are invited to look to these brothers and sisters who, after a first accurate discernment, are proposed as models of Christian life; then they are exhorted to develop a cult of veneration and invocation circumscribed by the ambit of the local Churches and the religious orders."
     "Pedagogical wisdom"?  Seriously?  From a church that for centuries has harbored child rapists and since being confronted about this has defended not the children, not the victims, but it own pocketbooks?  We're supposed to take this church seriously on matters of pedagogy and morality?

     "Heroic virtues"?  "Imitating" Pope Pius XII?  Pius XII remained silent in the face of the Nazi's and the holocaust.  He just plain didn't speak out.  He signed a Concordat between the Vatican and Nazi Germany, recognizing the Nazi government. The RCC can't deny that, but what they claim is that Pius did all sorts of secret behind-the-scenes work to save Jews, of course, the supposed proof of this is locked away in the Vatican's secret archives and we mere gentiles are to accept holy (dysfunctional) mother (fucking) church's word on these secret archives, as if two thousand years of bloody history have shown us that trusting the word of the RCC is wise.

     Among those to criticise him [Pope Ben] was the World Jewish Congress, whose president, Ronald Lauder, said: "As long as the archives about the crucial period 1939 to 1945 remain closed, and until a consensus on his [Pius XII's] actions ‑ or inaction ‑ concerning the persecution of millions of Jews in the Holocaust is established, a beatification is inopportune and premature.
     "While it is entirely a matter for the Catholic church to decide on whom religious honours are bestowed, there are strong concerns about Pius XII's political role during world war two which should not be ignored."
     He called on the Vatican to immediately open the files on the controversial figure. "Given the importance of good relations between Catholics and the Jews, and following the difficult events of the past year, it would be appreciated if the Vatican showed more sensitivity on this matter," he added, referring to Benedict's rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denying cleric, Richard Williamson.
     The incident sparked worldwide condemnation from prominent Jewish groups and individuals and placed an additional strain on interfaith relations, which were already under pressure after the pope issued an edict permitting a prayer that called for the conversion of Jews.
     In France, the country's chief rabbi urged the Vatican to abandon its mission to beatify Pius. Gilles Bernheim said: "Given Pius XII's silence during and after the Shoah [Holocaust], I don't want to believe that Catholics see in Pius XII an example of morality for humankind."
      I couldn't agree with Rabbi Bernheim more, but Pope Ben (who was himself a member of Hitler Youth) has made it very clear that the concerns of mere laity, gentiles, non-believing heathens, and especially Jews are of no interest to Himself.  Pope Ben described his reasoning in Saturday's decree noting:
     The Church undertakes these processes because "in the itinerary of recognition of sanctity, there emerges a spiritual and pastoral wealth that involves the whole Christian community."
     He [Pope Ben] defined sanctity as the "transfiguration of persons and human realities into the image of the risen Christ," and added that it "represents the ultimate purpose of the plan of divine salvation."
     Ben's "ultimate purpose" is thus spelled out very clearly and is neither to appease nor to dialogue with persons of other belief systems, but is instead to transform them into the so-called "risen" Christ, to make them Catholic Christians, so they can be "saved."  The Catholic church's official teaching is that the true church of Christ subsists in the Roman Catholic church (Lumen Gentium, Vatican II), and while this remains the "official" teaching of the church, the mission of the RCC will be to convert the world.

     If Pope Ben really believed that the church was going to last forever, then what's the rush?  Why push to canonize a controversial figure like Pius XII?  Why put at risk all the work of the past century that went into Jewish-Catholic dialogue?  Would it not be prudent, or dog-forbid pastoral, to wait another hundred or so years to canonize Pius?  This is definitely not the time.  But Ben's not interested in the pastoral, nor is he interested in what's good for inter-religious dialogue.

     In our current era of inter-religious dialogue, we are supposed to believe that people of different faith traditions, or just even different factions within a tradition, can get along and live in peace, but this is a fallacy.  As long as the world's religions believe that they individually are the only way to god, enlightenment, salvation, goodness, or whatever you want to call it, then there will never truly be dialogue amongst the world's religions.  There will be mere tolerance, which at this point in religion's bloody history would be a huge improvement, but true dialogue is between people who stand upon even footing with one another.  This dialogue is not possible between religions who each claim sole authority and insight into the will of their gods.  This, in my opinion, is the idolatry of religion: idolatry of the "truth."

     As for John Paul II becoming a saint and calling others to imitate his "virtue," well, that's debatable, too, as history will show that his attack upon the use of condoms to prevent HIV/AIDS to be responsible for the deaths of millions from the virus in the name of JPII's precious abstinence.  Of course, similar damages against humanity can be argued at the hands of fundamentalist Mother Teresa of Calcutta, but Catholics won't listen to those arguments.  They need their saints, and as Pope Ben encouraged on Saturday, their "cults."

     Is it just me, or is there something very self-serving and even a bit sinister about a sitting pope being able to push his predecessors for sainthood?  Isn't that a bit like a politician also being a lobbyist while being on the payroll of the company for which he/she is lobbying?  This is just one more example of what I call the theological incest of the RCC.
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I'm Glad I'm Not in Dixie. Hooray! Hooray!

     Yesterday's L.A. Times had an update on the situation in Asheville, North Carolina, that I blogged about a few days ago.  It appears that a lawsuit may be coming against Councilman Cecil Bothwell, because he's an atheist and the North Carolina state constitution won't allow for that.  The Times reports:
     A conservative group has distributed pamphlets warning locals that Bothwell is "Satan's helper" and a "radical extremist" who is "bashing religion."
     Isn't it just wonderful when religious people revert to calling any person with different beliefs Satan?  It really helps the dialogue, now, doesn't it?  What are they going to call Esther Manheimer, who was sworn in with Bothwell, with her hand not on the Christian bible, but on two Jewish texts?  Where does it stop?

     I like that Bothwell refers to himself as a "post-theist." I find that a very good description of what I've been through in my life, as well.  I did not "lose" my faith, as religious friends imply when they patronize me by saying "I know you're not Catholic, but I hope you didn't lose your faith."  I know this is very harsh, but to me that's like saying, "I know you're not a child any more, but I hope you didn't lose your belief in Santa."

     I didn't lose my faith.  I evolved beyond it and left it behind.  In fact, I've found that my life is fuller, more loving, and more peaceful since doing so.  But that doesn't matter to so many people in our Christian nation.  To them, I'm just someone who doesn't fit into their "religious" worldview.  I'm a threat that must be destroyed and/or disenfranchised; a devil to be exorcised and not engaged; not human.

     H.K. Edgerton, a former local NAACP president who has paraded in public wearing a Confederate Army uniform and waving a Confederate flag, said his lawyer was preparing a lawsuit against Asheville.
     "If you're an atheist and don't believe in God and still want to hold office, I have a problem with that," Edgerton said. "And the constitution of North Carolina has a problem with that."
     Yes, Mr. Edgerton, and the Constitution of the United States of America has a problem with that!  But that's right, you don't live in the U.S.A.  You live a fantasy life in the revisionist version of the Confederate States of America, or at least you wish you did.  How can anyone take the threat of a lawsuit from this man seriously?

Seriously?  You wish you were in Dixie?