Friday, September 15, 2006

Papal Failure

(This refers to the blog entry by Daniel Drezner and comments on the same. )

The opening comments by RHD are indeed good and the central thesis of those comments is true - this Pope is indeed attempting to make an opening salvo against the great looming conflict: using Islam for justifying violence. Given his strong theological pedigree and moral courage, it makes perfect sense that this Pope would try to engage in such a polemical battle of ideas with relevance to day to day conflicts.

But the questions raised about the wisdom in quoting some obscure emperor, whose empire finally gave way to Islam, are all applicable here and are valid. Looks like from a scholarship point of view that quote was not appropriate.

Finally about the most important issue: it has been a suspicion that established Christianity ignores it's own violent past of 1000 years (especially medieval times). Pope's utterances confirm that. If you are familiar with Hindu Fundamentalists in India, you see the point: these fundamentalists ignore the violent (and exploitation by way of Hindu Caste System) and tend to point fingers at others, say to Islam or Christianity. However, those who ignore their own past essentially loose the basic credibility in pointing mistakes of others. This Pope has made that cardinal mistake. Unless he acknowledges blood on hands of Papacy, there is no way through the 'window' of God's house this Pope can get any ray of ‘grace’. The utterances of this Pope are all in the mean and narrow tradition of these religious leaders – arguing for monopoly of one religion over others. Amazing that 2000 years have passed and still these religious leaders do not get it and they still engage in petty and narrow world view.

There is indeed a right case to be made against those who use Islam to justify violence. Further, at theological level one can debate what violent ways did the Prophet advocate to spread Islam - is it true and whether it is right. Unfortunately this core debate will be set aside due to this Pope's failure in apologizing for the past violence undertaken by Christianity in the name of Jesus.

There is so much desperate need of a ‘shepherd’ in today’s world. One wishes the current Pope would fulfill that role. But it does not seem so.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
September 15, 2006.

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