Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Anatomising The Pope

Religious people actually enjoy being persecuted. Persecution is evidence to them that they've managed to get up the noses of worldly folk and are therefore on the right track. As it says in the Gospel of Matthew, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in Heaven."

This mentality makes them impervious to criticism. I don't know how genuinely sorry Pope Benedict is for all the scandals that are breaking about his head (My guess is not very sorry at all) but there's a part of him that's going to be enjoying that feeling of embattlement. It's not as if his personal comfort and security are in any way threatened.

Peter Tatchell- who was bashing the bishop of Rome for an hour on Channel 4 last night- said a smart thing. He said Benedict really doesn't mind if the church shrinks on his watch. Yes, it would be nice if the whole world converted to Roman Catholicism, but it would be equally nice (and much cosier) to find oneself huddled in the catacombs with a remnant of the faithful. The ultra-religious mind is bombproof. You flourish and that's a sign of of God's favour, you suffer and that's a sign of God's favour too.

I don't hate the Pope. He's not a bad man. In fact from the point of view of those of us who would like to see the church humbled he's the best man for the job.   His predecessor's charisma blinded us to the cruelty and hypocrisy of the organisation he fronted; with Benedict- who has never been a pastor but only ever an academic, a bureaucrat and an inquisitor-  there's really no such danger.

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