August 23, 2005
POPE â€˜B16â€™ FLIES LOW
Immersed in our government-induced paranoia about terrorism we sometimes forget
to ask: Who are the terrorists and who are the victims? The question might appear superfluous given
the daily deluge of information issued by our secret services and loyally disseminated by our media
networks. In this climate of daily sprinkled fear no one should be surprised Religion has jumped onto
the bandwagon of opportunities, ready to reap its own benefits while the rest brawl over oil. History
teaches us Religion has never been found wonting in its support of totalitarian governments and their
commercial enterprises, neither yesterday nor today.
Take our new German Pope, Benedict XVI, nicknamed B16 by his young fans, the Papa
Boys (all of them born well after B52s carpet- bombed Vietnam). He has not escaped the temptation of
hypocrisy. Hardly settled onto the throne of St Peter, B16 spoke with Islamic leaders. His main theme
with these bearded men was not an apology about the way many of their followers had been treated
by Christians, both in the past and today. Instead, he admonished the Islamic clergy for not
condemning strongly enough the Moslem â€˜terrorâ€™, particularly the suicide bombers against
which the Christian world has so far found no valid remedy, except to bomb other Moslems.
B16 did not say a word about what Moslems, justifiably, consider also terrorism: The
devastation and occupation of Iraq without any valid reason; the war against the Taliban regime in
Afghanistan and the continued Israeli occupation, demolition of homes and arrest of Palestinians in
the West Bank.
Where was this Popeâ€™s Christian call for an end to the war in Iraq? The withdrawal of the
Coalition of the Willing? Or a plea to Catholics: Exercise more tolerance about â€œthe othersâ€™?
This German pontiff had a gilded opportunity to address over a million young people and tell them to
march â€“ not only for God and Godliness but for peace in the Middle East and against a war no one
in their right mind has yet been able to justify as a mission consistent with Christian principles.
Instead of a clarion call to go forth and testify for peace this â€˜Holy Fatherâ€™ gave his own
twist to the abominable Nazi holocaust, indirectly blaming Protestantism and other break-away
churches for deserting the true Church, his Roman Catholic Church. This desertion, so his argument
implied, led to the birth of what he called a rebirth of â€œpaganismâ€� during which the Jews were
There is of course a flaw in this simplistic final solution to a question that has plagued the
Vatican for decades, ever since the State of Israel demanded some answers to Catholic complacency
in Hitlerâ€™s Final Solution.
Consider this: Who, for two thousands years, has bad-mouthed, persecuted and vilified Jews,
as the race that supposedly crucified Our Savior? Was it not the Catholic Church? Who nurtured,
even lead, anti-Semitic purges throughout Europe? How many Popes placed crowns on the heads of
kings and emperors guilty of ordering the massacre or expulsion of Jews? Was it not that same
Roman Catholic Church that impregnated generations of Europeans with loathing for the Christ-killers?
Did the Nazis simply select, by chance, the Jews for their gas chambers or was their choice an
obvious one because anti-Semitic sentiments had festered for generations in Germany and the rest of
Europe? Were these sentiments not promoted by the Catholic Church which now blames a
resurgence of paganism for the deaths of six million Jews?
B16â€™s transfer of guilt to those â€˜paganâ€™ breakaways from the true faith, his faith, was
nothing short of deception and fits well into the current renaissance of medieval Church practices.
In fact, as many theologians have lobbied for decades, is it not time to brush away the
cobwebs and have the Vatican open its archives to throw some light on what really happened during
fascism, or, even more significant, what happened at the tribunal of Pontius Pilate, the Roman
governor who washed his hands? Was the saga of the crucifixion (mentioned nowhere in the usually
meticulous Roman records) twisted by the same kind of spin doctors (then known as â€˜disciplesâ€™
today known as PR persons) who keep telling us: â€˜These are the good guys and these are the bad
Is that how history â€“ and religion - is perpetuated? Is that how pariahs are created?
Is it not time for our own call: â€˜Mister Ratzinger: Open these Vatican archives and let the
truth come out!