Extra! Extra! Pope smooches imam!

The Freethinker brought this to my attention:

Apparently the BBC wouldn’t risk reproducing the image on their website, and even Benetton removed it from theirs. The ad is part of a campaign pitting “world leaders who are often at loggerheads, such as President Obama and Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, locking lips.” What’s so controversial about that?

I don’t know if the imam’s people went apeshit over the ad, but you can just imagine those pasty fellows over at the Vatican pulling their hair out over it. No respect for the Holy Father! Lolz.

I think it’s pretty hilarious, and I long for the day the religions can no longer throw their weight around in defense of “the feelings of believers.” Considering that Catholics are spoonfed homophobia from a young age as part of their church’s doctrine, I don’t think they have the right to have such “feelings” respected.

Ratzinger’s blood libel against atheists

Not exactly a denial of God, is it?

It reminds me of Durban: a gathering of peace-minded folks from all over the globe getting together to discuss problems which afflict us all. But all they can talk about is Israel. The love-fest turns into a blood libel against the Jews.

Joseph Ratzinger knows that he can’t aim his pious invective at the Jewish people as his predecessors did. So this most contemporary pope takes aim at the next best enemy of his faith: atheists. It’s another blood libel in the making. Here are his words from Assisi yesterday*:

The enemies of religion…see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.

Do we really demand that religion disappear? Or do we just demand that it know its place and stay in it, and not meddle in things which aren’t its business? And there in that last line is the blood libel: that Nazism was the outcome of atheism. But Ratzinger was in the Wehrmacht as a young man, and knows perfectly well that Nazi anti-Semitism was a Christian inheritance. Adolf Hitler was a Catholic who has never been excommunicated and Mein Kampf was never added to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum as, say, Kepler, Voltaire, Locke, Mill and Galileo were. Kettle black enough for ya’?

The absence of God leads to the decline of man and of humanity. But where is God? Do we know him, and can we show him anew to humanity, in order to build true peace? Let us first briefly summarize our considerations thus far. I said that there is a way of understanding and using religion so that it becomes a source of violence, while the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for peace. In this context I referred to the need for dialogue and I spoke of the constant need for purification of lived religion. On the other hand I said that the denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria and leads him to violence.

See? There it is: “the denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria and leads him to violence.” While religion can be used either as a means to violence – as Ratzinger knows only too well – or peace, atheism inevitably leads to the degredation of humanity and the violent corruption of society.

He’s telling fibs again. The happiest societies on Earth are the most secular. Sociologists know this. Ask anyone who has escaped from religion and they will likely tell you they are happier and feel “free” for the first time in their lives. This is not uncommon at all, no matter which religion is being left behind.

This knowledge is making the pope shit his pants.

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* One year ago, almost to the day, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said some disturbingly similar things about atheists. And he published them in a Vatican newspaper, to boot.

An unwelcome guest

Don’t expect to hear many voices pipe up in opposition to the pope’s visit to Assisi tomorrow. There will be no demonstrations, occupations or black bloc terror (thankfully not this last). Maybe in other countries, but not in Italy. Just phony respect, ecumenical backpatting and “reaching out” to atheists, heretics and other people who would’ve been tortured and burned not so long ago – possibly in this same city square.

Allow me to register one clear voice in opposition to this man and the rapacious organization of politicized religion he heads. Don’t let the pomp fool you; we haven’t ALL been taken in. There are people in Italy, in Assisi even, who detest this man, his church and all that they stand for: superstition, ignorance, bigotry, greed, corruption, falsity and the pretension that they alone are above the laws that govern the rest of human society.

I, for one, do not welcome Joseph Ratzinger to Assisi.

Dear Pope: God is dead, and we killed him

The pope, in his new book, apparently asserts that the Jews didn’t kill Jesus. So what? Who cares anymore? Are we really going to let the pope decide our opinion on such matters as, Are Jews intrinsically evil? That sounds pretty ridiculous today, but for centuries the pope’s opinion on such matters really mattered. Thankfully, his words are now grist for the mill of Twitter jokes. Here’s my attempt at an elegant controbattuta:

Have They Really Found St. Paul?

Pope Benedict XVI thinks so.

Back in 2006, MSNBC published a piece about the excavation of St. Paul’s tomb beneath the homonymous basilica in Rome:

Vatican archaeologists have unearthed a sarcophagus believed to contain the remains of the Apostle Paul, buried beneath Rome’s second-largest basilica.

The sarcophagus, which dates at least as far back as A.D. 390, has been the subject of an extended excavation that began in 2002 and was completed last month, the project’s head said this week.

So why is the pope chiming in only now about the veracity of these “findings?” Because today is a big holiday here in the Eternal City. It’s St. Peter & Paul’s Day, the city’s Catholic patriarchs, on the liturgical calendar.

Listen to the pope’s “scientific proof” that the remains are actually Paul’s:

…human bone fragments going back to the first or second century, red incense powder and linen cloth. “This–Pope Benedict XVI declared–seems to confirm the unanimous and unopposed tradition the what we have here are the remains of the apostle Paul.”

So of all the human folk living in Rome in the first few centuries CE, the presence of incense and linen absolutely and incontrovertibly indicates that these are the bones of Saul of Tarsus, or Paul the Apostle? How did they narrow it down? Oh, it’s because they have always maintained that this was the case, which is usually how the Vatican ratifies its miracles. Outrageous, unfounded claims about history and the nature of the universe, fake skepticism and the dispatching of Vatican “officials”, then unopposable “proof” of the miracle or relic in question. Then, alas, a sanctuary and the opening of a tchotchke shop selling plastic replicas of holy relics.

The great irony here is that the Vatican feels the need to back up its claims with science. Otherwise, they realize very few people would be stupid enough to fall for this mishaguss. After all, we aren’t living in the Middle Ages any longer.

Are we??

Begging for Forgiveness

Tomorrow the Pope will begin his week-long trip to the Middle East. Alan Dershowitz has a worthy article highlighting why his trip might enthuse some people less than others.

As Pope Benedict makes his historic visit to Israel, several Cardinals, Bishops and priests continue to perpetuate the Church’s long history of anti-Semitism. Photographs recently surfaced of Father Angelo Idi wearing a swastika as he makes a hail-Hitler salute at a neo-Nazi rally. He belongs to the same group of Fascists that include Bishop Richard Williamson—who persists in denying the Holocaust. But the Church’s Jewish problem is not limited to marginal priests or excommunicated Bishops. At least two of the Church’s most influential Cardinals, including one who was in the running for Pope Benedict’s job and who remains a leading candidate to replace him, are overt anti-Semites and proud of it.

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Meridiaga, who is the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has been telling anyone who is willing to listen that “the Jews” are to blame for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners! The Jews? How did Cardinal Rodriguez ever come up with this ridiculous idea? Here is his “logic.” He begins by asserting that the Vatican is anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. It follows, therefore, that “the Jews” had to get even with the Catholic Church, while at the same time deflecting attention away from Israeli injustices against the Palestinians.

The Jews managed to do this by arranging for the media which they, of course, control to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal. Listen to Rodriguez’s own words:

“It certainly makes me think that in a moment in which all the attention of the mass media was focused on the Middle East, all the many injustices done against the Palestinian people, the print media and the TV in the United States became obsessed with sexual scandals that happened 40 years ago, 30 years ago.  Why? I think it’s also for these motives: What is the church that has received Arafat the most times and has most often confirmed the necessity of the creation of a Palestinian state? What is the church that does not accept that Jerusalem should be the indivisible capital of the State of Israel, but that it should be the capital of the three great monotheistic religions?”

Rodriguez then goes on to compare the Jewish-controlled media with “Hitler,” because they are “protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the Church.”

I know what you’re thinking: “Dude, you’re making this up!”

Anyone wondering what the Pope himself is thinking can read the words of his Sunday Angelus:

I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to ask the Lord, visiting the places sanctified by his passage on the earth, for his precious blessing of unity and peace for the Middle East and for all of mankind. I am counting on the spiritual support of all of you, and may God accompany me, support me and bless with his Grace all those who I meet on my way.

It’s beautiful poetry, really. I hope he succeeds in intervening with the Lord, blessing his flock, and all the stuff that popes do on visits to the Holy Land. I also hope he doesn’t forget that there are real people who live and die,  pay taxes and raise children, invent technology and fight endless wars, educate their young and bury their dead in that land.

And that, right about now, the Lord is the last guy on earth whose blessing he should be seeking.

Then there’s this gem. With people like this making the case for God, who needs Christopher Hitchens?

Pope Blesses Durban 2

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

This morning’s Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s leading newspapers, has a snippet article on Durban 2. Germany and Sweden have pulled out at the last minute, while France and Great Britain are attending. The Pope chimed in with a blessing over the heads of all the participants, calling for:

“strong, concrete action, on an international scale, in order to eliminate all forms of discrimination and intolerance.”

Which begs the question: is Joseph Ratzinger completely insane? Is he unaware that his own church still condemns homosexuality? Are homosexuals not deserving of the same rights as others who suffer discrimination: Jews, women, blacks and minorities of every stripe and creed? After having scandalously reinstated a Holocaust-denying bishop a few months ago, it hardly seems that Pope Benedict XVI is qualified to make such universal-sounding pronouncements.

Of course the Pope is no ignoramus. He’s just a cynic. What can a blessing from such a man possibly augur?

For a gloss on the anti-Semitic dimensions of April 20, read Yaacov Lozowick.

Pope Condemns Witchcraft

The New York Times reports today that the Pope Benedict XVI was embraced by the people of Angola, in Africa. They further report that the crowd of faithful Angolans wasn’t the least bit fazed by the controversy surrounding the pope’s poo-pooing of condoms as a useful way to fight HIV (and various other STDs, unwanted pregnancy, etc…). Here’s the clincher, at least for me:  

“The only people who use condoms are those with no faith,” said Simba Teresa, a 45-year-old street vendor, trying to wave away the heat with a continuing flap of her hand. She said three of her five children had died as infants, a common story in a country with one of the worst child mortality rates in the world. “Faith is everything,” she said. “You put your life in God’s hands.”

Now, we live in a world where it is no longer able to claim absolute ignorance of certain things, namely that if you want to have sex without risking making babies–and therefore ending up with too darn many of them–you can put on a rubber. Unless you are a Catholic–no, wait…unless you are a Catholic living in an underdeveloped region of the world. Italy, for example, is home to Vatican City and a healthy majority of Italians still identify with being Catholics, but all of them have recourse to condoms (and, more importantly, use them). The ones who don’t aren’t supposed to be doing the nasty anyway.  So this just goes to show that while most mainstream Catholics will pay lip service to the pope, most of them realize he is full of hot medieval air when he says these things.

One thing the NYTimes article did not report that the Italian media did was Benedict’s plea to the Angolans to abandon their old time religion: witchcraft, animism and all, and get with the new. My guess is that he meant the Catholic Church, that big, democratic holy roller-rink of a faith. I, for one, don’t see much difference between the doctrine of transubstantiation and, well, lesser known forms of religious witchcraft.

Pope Benedict XVI, enemy of Africa

Pope Benedict XVI, in a plane on his way to Africa, had this to say about AIDS: ”You can’t resolve it with the distribution of condoms.”  The New York Times reports that there are about 22-million people in sub-Saharan Africa infected with HIV. The story is here.

At times I tell myself this man is joking. He seems to be a caricature of a cartoon of a pope. And then, when he has had his say, he appears genuinely distraught that his statements upset some people. I mean, who can be serious when they tell others to control themselves sexually through abstinence? The popes–who one might suppose have no experience, and therefore no real advice to offer–can’t even control their own men, so what other term is there for this but hypocrisy?