I am not an anti-papist, though sometimes perhaps I am hard on the leaders and doctrines of the organization. After all, in its time it has sponsored great art and music, what it has not done is encourage or increased the sum of scientific knowledge or created a better society. With the resignation of the current incumbent to the title of “Vicar of Christ” the world is faced with a very simple decision. What we have to decide is if once again we will bend a knee and take the shafting or whether we can this time “just say no”.
The church Catholic has for years had an amazing way of insinuating and infecting social justice and steering countries and continents without any form of censure. No one says “no” to a pope, no one looks at a bishop and says “go away”. These people are imbued with a power that is both hypnotic and frightening and not because they deserve or have earned it but rather because we are still programmed to bend the knee. What do I mean? Well lets look at the whole thing from a historical point of view.
When the church really began to take power it was a time when might equaled right. The man with the biggest sword and the biggest army said what was correct and the church used these men, kings is the usual term, to establish itself as the primary faith in Europe. In doing so it gained lands, and more importantly incomes, it was able to say to men who were not as scientifically advanced as us “if you don’t do it our way you will be damned to hell.” That might seem trite to us but to our ancestors it was a frightening prospect. Superstition is a wonderful lever, say to a man “I hold the keys to heaven” when he is living in a world where every plague, every famine, every comet are said to be his fault for not following the church and he will generally do what you say. The social structure was also very clearly defined. King at the top, lords below him in descending order, then freemen, then the rest of us, the peasants. But what the church did was to put itself above kings by teaching the world that it was heaven that was important not this world. The message from any religion is not “here is the way to live so that you leave the world a better place”, it is always “here is the method by which you become good enough to get into the next one”. “Oh and I hold the keys so it’s my way or the flame and pain” is the unspoken rider.
So in that world of superstition and divine retribution the church was also given legal powers and its own courts. It became a bloated, corrupt force in the world that had little to do with the teachings of Christ and everything to do with securing a power base and having as much as it could at the expense of everyone else. Simply put, if the papacy was such an august institution how do you explain the blessing of slave ships, the instigation of genocide, the helping of Nazi war criminals to evade punishment, oh and the subjugation of women, the slaughter of millions by driving them to suicide, and the deliberate holding back of centuries of scientists because their findings didn’t fit the book that the church itself had edited to the point where there was nothing left of the original? Please explain these things to me. I want to understand how through the centuries one man has been allowed to do all these things and get away with them while still being held by millions as the holiest man on the planet. It kind of stinks doesn’t it?
What we have today is a carry over from all those centuries of being told what to do and how to do it. We are programmed as societies to bend the knee to these men who claim to speak for Christ and though we may be disgusted by their behavior we make no effort to actually stop it. Let me propose a question. It’s one I have had to challenge myself on and still do because it gives me a true gauge as to my deference level. The question is this. Would I ever get up and say no if I was sitting in church and heard something I didn’t agree with? For a long time the answer was always “yes……… but” and the a whole stream of conditions would come out. Now the answer is a simple “yes”. Who knows what tomorrow will be because I am afraid I am human. Tomorrow I may face death or sickness or fear and I will be more willing to accept the words from the preachers mouth, in order to comfort myself about my own fate. I’m human and sometimes I do worry about what happens in the next life. But its a thought from the middle of the night and to be honest I try to see it as that. The day should always be about this world and living to the fullest. Ask yourself that question, really think about the courage you would need and whether it would only be if the issue involved you. You see it takes a brave human to stand up to perceived authority when it directly affects them, but it takes so much more when the need is society’s, and it’s almost inconceivably brave when it is done for a stranger who you don’t know. But that’s what Christ would do. The man who started the whole thing has been pushed out of his own church because other men want money, power, and the right to abuse children without consequence.
Don’t believe me then tell me where these priests go? Most are quietly retired before the storm hits, parishes are depleted of funds, records are hidden, so that the church can’t be sued. No where is there a Vatican prison for sex offenders. No where do we see accountability from the man in charge saying here are the names of the offenders, here are the victims, here are the prison sentences and the cell numbers, here is justice for all to see and flowing like a river. Has one single pope ever given that kind of open prosecution of offenders? The answer is of course a resounding no.
Again to find the reason we have to go back into the history books and see how the church has managed to protect itself and its citizens. The idea of ecclesiastical courts has a fine tradition of being a “get out of jail” card. Since the middle ages priests have been tried by their peers and not by the temporal government of the day. Apart, separate, without fear because they were safe to govern themselves. Look back through the records and you will find that in most cases the serious sentences didn’t go to the priests that were known to be breaking the laws of man but rather to the ones that were caught out by the public and made the church look bad in the eyes of the faithful. Phrases like “he is a man and man is sinful so we must forgive not judge” drip like poison from the pages of history. For when a priest sins he becomes a man and must be forgiven because that’s what Christ would do. Sin, confess, and you are absolved, no need to pay on earth for your crimes. How would that work in a real court? You murdered, you admit it, go free because your sin is wiped away. Doesn’t really ring true does it. The church offender goes free and the organisation which protects him is unsullied because it is dispensing God’s justice which is so much better than man’s.
When the next incumbent of the throne of St. Peter sits his backside down to give the word of God I hope that everyone Catholic and non-catholic will remember one thing. This is not a sovereign nation it is a religion in the same way that the Jews are a religion. These are not temporal powers which have no responsibilities to the governments that their church members live in and as such should not be held aloof from being accountable to them. As religions they have no higher authority than the government in Westminster, Washington, or any countries seat of government. Their members both as staff or congregation should have no right to self govern or dispense justice. As Christ said “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” and that includes the respects for the laws that he lays down. A man, priest or not is still under his law while in his country and should not be protected by an organization. To say that any religious order has superiority over the laws of a nation is repugnant be it rabbinical, christian, or sharia. Faith has it’s place and it is not in perverting the course of justice. To the new pope I would say only about 17% of the worlds population is Catholic so on behalf of the other 83% please don’t feel you have the right to influence whole communities and protect your members from justice. Be open, show the records of how these men have been treated as men who have broken the law, not as sinners who have been forgiven by God. And please stop persecuting the homosexuals. The plain fact is that the vast majority of offenders vehemently attest to their heterosexuality and so you can’t lay that one at our door. In the end we are among those caring for your victims and trying to provide answers when they ask why. Please get your own house in order before coming into ours. The world is not yours, you have no claim to it, and you should answer for the crimes of those who claim to be acting in your name. Enron fell even though it thought it was greater than the government and it fell.
As a historical footnote I would point out that Israel and the Vatican were both declared states within a short space of time. Both have historically been and still are the ultimate refuge for criminals of the vilest order, are able to put their religious poison into the world at an international level, and seem to have the power to sway governments much larger than themselves. Both of them are also religions not peoples. So perhaps its time some of the seats in the United Nations were removed permanently. To the people of the world I say this. Your faith is your own but it should never be allowed to infringe on the personal rights of another, especially if they don’t believe what you do. Its all smoke and mirrors and once you see that they have no power over you you will attain true freedom. Your right to heaven is up to you. Protect the offenders or dare to see what God actually teaches. One nation under God? Or one nation thinking for itself and saying we will not live in fear. Your choice.