Addressing an academic group assembled at his former university at Regensburg in his native Germany, Pope Benedict XVI launched into a mystifying homily against Islam. At the height of the diatribe, Pope Benedict quoted a medieval monarch who insulted Islam by stating that Islam was both “evil and inhuman.”
Predictably, the pope’s ill-conceived outburst triggered outrage and protest throughout the world. Public demonstrations have called for a formal papal apology, and in Somalia, an aged nun became the victim of what is being portrayed as a reprisal.
In the midst of the emerging crisis, the pope issued yet another statement designed to quell the outrage and stem the violence. Strangely, in his new statement the pope chose to insult the Jews by quoting a biblical passage blaming them for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The pope must have had an unfortunate lapse of memory, for it would appear that he may have forgotten that the disciples were all Jews and so, too, were many of Jesus’s myriads of followers who did not support the crucifixion.
This latest insult was not the first time that Pope Benedict has enraged the Jews. When he appeared at Auschwitz earlier this year, the pope had forgotten (deliberately, of course) to mention that the Holocaust was the product of Anti-Semitism. Instead, Benedict air-brushed the Anti-Semitism of Nazism and its collaborators out of history altogether in his clumsy attempt to revise the Holocaust.
Almost immediately following the outrage at the pope’s Islamophobia, Angela Merkel, the right-wing Prime Minister of Germany, leapt to his defence. Following swiftly on her statement defending the Pope, election results from Merkel’s home constituency confirmed the political resurgence of the far right in Germany.
The National Democratic Party an extraordinary political euphemism for a party that espouses xenophobia, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, racial superiority of Nordic and Germanic races and Aryan supremacy – swept to victories that will allow them to send representatives to the German Parliament, the Bundestag. With this latest triumph of racial extremism, three radical parties will now be represented in the Bundestag. Merkel and her pope must be pleased.
Pope Benedict’s statements about Islam have been shameful. While no monotheistic religion is blameless and each has committed atrocities in the name of their divinity Christianity and Judaism have long and atrocious records of war crimes extending back to the time of Joshua who led the Hebrews in the massacre of the people of Ai slaughtering twelve thousand men, women and children (Joshua 8:25). King David was a brutal warrior. Not only did he slay Goliath; he gruesomely desecrated the corpse by severing the head and brandished it about ghoulishly. In his poetic Book of Psalms, David addressed the Babylonians by writing a macabre curse, “A blessing on him who takes and dashes your babies against the rock!” (Psalm 137).
Neither was Jesus totally non-violent. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) More. Jesus advocates the execution of rebellious children (Mark 7:9-10) and the amputation of limbs as punishment (Matthew 5:29-30).
In recent Islamophobic diatribes, the Pope and others have castigated the Muslims for their resort to the sword to spread their religion. This tactic is outrageous for it airbrushes the crusades, the Inquistion and the Holocaust out of history. All of these atrocities were perpetrated by Christians against millions of victims among the unfortunate non-believers, pagans, Jews and Muslims who lost their lives in wars, in courts of Inquistion or in the Nazi extermination camps arrayed across Germany and Poland that are coincidentally the sites of the birthplaces of the present pope and his immediate predecessor, John Paul II.
Worse than outrageous, these statements are lies, outright lies. The word “sword” does not occur in the Qu’ran not even in the so-called “Sword Verse,” (at-taubah 9:5) – but it certainly does occur in the Judaeo-Christian Bible where it appears at least 424 times. In fact, in the Bible the word “sword” appears more than one hundred times more frequently than the word for “peace.”
In the Mosaic book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 20, the Lord God of Israel commands Moses to sack all cities in his wake, but in those cities in the promised land the Lord commands Moses to kill all of the inhabitants utterly i.e. commit genocide. According to the writers of Deuteronomy, the Lord God of Israel ordered the Israelites to commit genocide by mass-murdering and massacring all of the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites a massive conglomeration of humanity equivalent to the populations of the Middle Eastern nations currently occupying Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinian territories and Iraq.
In the final book of the Christian Bible, the Revelations of St John the Divine, after the Rapture, Jesus Christ will return to commit genocide on all the inhabitants of the earth. Men, women, children, animals and plants will be convulsed, exploded, lacerated or incinerated in a global holocaust that will eradicate every last vestige of life on our planet.
The current Pope is not the only holder of his office to foment wars against members of other religions. The crusades were papal onslaughts against Jews and Muslims. The Jewish populations in the German provinces of Europe were the first victims of the first crusade. A long line of papal diatribes led the way for the Nazi genocide of the Jews in the same anti-semitic region of Europe.
In the nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII explicitly stated,
“The death sentence is a necessary and efficacious means for the Church to attain its end when rebels act against it and disturbers of the ecclesiastical unity, especially obstinate heretics and heresiarchs, cannot be restrained by any other penalty from continuing to derange the ecclesiastical order and impelling others to all sorts of crime … When the perversity of one or several is calculated to bring about the ruin of many of its children it is bound effectively to remove it, in such wise that if there be no other remedy for saving its people it can and must put these wicked men to death.”
Pope Leo XIII’s statement stands as a clear and blatant call to genocide of Jews, Muslims and non-believers. It is worth noting that in recent decades, the number of conversions from Christianity to Islam and Buddhism has been gaining momentum throughout the world a phenomenon well known to the Vatican and its chief lieutenants including Josef Ratzinger, the former Hitler Youth.
Prior to becoming pope, Josef Ratzinger led a controversial career. Known as “God’s Rottweiler,” Ratzinger delivered numerous Islamophobic and Buddhaphobic harangues, and he excommunicated leading reformist theologians while crushing liberation theology and covering up the sex crimes of thousands of Catholic pirests. Ratzinger’s ecclesiastical career is predicated on the radical reform of Roman Catholicism by returning it to medieval levels of absolutistic-totalitarian authority.
While his predecessor made explicit statements condemning the war in Iraq, Pope Benedict has done no such thing. Worse. During the American presidential election in 2004, when he was still a Cardinal, Josef Ratzinger sent a controversial letter to America’s bishops threatening to excommunicate every Catholic who voted for Bush’s opponent, Senator John Kerry. In doing so, Ratzinger became openly and willfully complicit in Bush’s explicitly Islamophobic wars.
This pope has a well-established record of inciting wars against Islamic peoples. To date, Benedict’s highly politicized statements have fomented wars between the Christian West and the Islamic Middle East. Neither before nor since assuming his papal throne has Benedict done anything worthy of note to increase genuine understanding between the major religions. For this reason alone, Benedict’s is a failed papacy. For other reasons especially his personal bigotry and his obstinate preference for political prejudice Benedict’s pontificate will be remembered as a disaster for Roman Catholicism.
Writing the greatest Christian literature of the medieval period, the Divina Comedia, Dante Aligheri boldly attacked the treacherous political machinations of the papacy in the fourteenth century. Seven centuries later, the situation is no different. The papacy is in the hands of a neoconservative political extremist, who views his personal role as that of a religious tyrant. There can be little serious doubt that the world will pay an extremely high price for his outrageous vanities.
MICHAEL CARMICHAEL has been a professional public affairs consultant, author and broadcaster since 1968. In 2003, he founded The Planetary Movement Limited, a global public affairs organization based in the United Kingdom. He has appeared as a public affairs expert on the BBC’s Today Programme, Hardtalk, PM, as well as numerous appearances on ITN, NPR and many European broadcasts examining politics and culture. He can be reached through his website: www.planetarymovement.org