| May 14, 2009 | 0 Comments
Pope Benedict’s recent trip to Israel is disconcerting to say the least. Traveling to Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, the Pope brought with him a message of reconciliation between interfaith groups – namely Muslims and Jews.

He urged them to “reject the destructive powers of hatred and prejudice.” While this act may be heralded by those around the world, the fact of the matter is anyone (especially these days) can and does go around urging peace. But were it that simple, we’d have had peace by now.

What I personally see as a popular trend is the rise of many so-called leaders trumpeting a message of peace that not only fails to have any real substance, but is also not followed by clear decisive action. What raises grave concerns here is not the stated agenda behind the Pope’s trip, but the acts and specific choice of words, which raise alarming suspicions and point to incredible hypocrisy.


The words of any leaders, particularly those given at mass public gatherings, are carefully thought out.  Words don’t just stumble out of their mouth – they’re crafted. And here is what was shaped on this occasion: “I urge people of goodwill in both communities to repair the damage that has been done, and in fidelity to our common belief in one God, the Father of the human family, to work to build bridges and find the way to a peaceful coexistence,” – Benedict.

The use and placement of the bolded text highlights the association created here. As monotheistic faiths agree, God is Father and Creator – and the title of Pope is derivative of “il Papa”, Latin for Father. In the minds of many who already believe in this self-appointed title, these words will reinforce a belief.  In the minds of others, it creates a subliminal association that makes his presence more acceptable.

Any student of rhetoric will attest to the obvious connection the Pope creates here, linking himself to the divine. Troubling?  Not so much. Troubling considering the immense influence he has over a significant percentage of the population? Yes. Troubling when as a self-appointed religious leader, with a claim to faith in God, he does the very things warned of in the Bible – the book he says he’s about?  YES.


While the rhetorical strategies in Benedict’s speech can be fairly debated, his actions cannot. While you may accidentally or unknowingly say the wrong word, you cannot “accidentally” create a parade “led by a procession of priests and bishops in flowing white robes.”

Nor can you accidentally carry a large gold cross, don yourself in a golden cloak, and surround yourself with an entourage of priests all setting the stage for a grand spectacle of ‘faith’. These shows of faith are exactly that – a show. The truly saddening part is the crowd that showed up, chanting his name, “clapping in unison and waving yellow and white Vatican flags.”

And the grand irony of this is the fact that it all took place in Nazareth.  Nazareth, in Galilee, was where “according to tradition, Jesus traveled through Galilee with his disciples preaching and performing miracles in the final years of his life.”

Benedict’s display here is a questionable imitation of Jesus. There are too many coincidences here for it to be a coincidence – the choice of words, the location, the movement… However you choose to look at the picture, there’s one fact and figure that stands out in sharp contrast to this scene.

Anyone who has studied Jesus would know how much this man was against shows of grandeur, against religious titles, against mass followings…against the very idea of a “pope”. And yet, here is Benedict – revered by believers who unfortunately do not see that he is a manifestation of the very thing Jesus warned against.

And when he passes, another in his place, and another thereafter and another and another.  Each claiming an exclusive right to something God gives freely to all.



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