The American media is waking up to the fact that the Eurocentric Pope Benedict has a Third World problem…
…and a Middle East problem.
…and an Asia problem.
Via Tapped’s Adele Stan, we learn that the Pope alienated some Brazilians:
HONEY, I SHRUNK THE CHURCH. It seems as if Pope Benedict XVI is really out to prove his philosophy that he’s willing to accept a smaller, but more loyal flock for the Roman Catholic Church. Among the loyalty tests — aside from the traditionally misogynist stands against women in the priesthood and reproductive rights for women — one rarely discussed appears to have roiled to the surface: acceptance of Western civilization and culture as superior to all others.
Yesterday, as his Brazilian sojourn drew to a close… reports Raymond Colitt of Reuters, [Benedict said]:
[Brazil’s indigenous people] had welcomed the arrival of European priests at the time of the conquest as they were “silently longing” for Christianity, he said.
… Particularly telling is reaction of Brazilian Indians who are Catholic, as well as the priests who minister to them. “The Pope doesn’t understand the reality of the Indians here, his statement was wrong and indefensible,” Father Paulo Suess, who runs the Brazilian church’s advocacy group for the indigenous, told Colitt. “I too was upset.”
Thanks to the convoluted character of Catholic doctrine and Benedict’s penchant for high-minded hairsplitting, it’s a bit difficult to tease out the Pope’s point.
The bottom line is that Benedict regards attempts to understand and acknowledge and reconcile what the indigenous people lost in that whole bloody genocide, forced conversion, and slavery fracas with the Conquistadors in South America as deluded carping by liberation-theology types who should be grateful that their once-pagan ancestors are not broiling in eternal hellfire.
So, thank you Christian Europe! for the wafers and wine that allowed this Godforsaken land to realize its destiny as a Christian continent.
An unsentimental farewell to whatever was going on here before the guns-germs-and-steel action!
And stop trying to put that pre-Columbian toothpaste back into the tube!
The Utopia of going back to breathe life into the pre-Columbus religions, separating them from Christ and from the universal Church, would not be a step forward: indeed, it would be a step back. In reality, it would be a retreat towards a stage in history anchored in the past.” (quoted in comments to Stan’s post)
That kind of condescending dismissal is at the heart of Benedict’s thought–and his problems as Pope.
Pope Benedict is quite the expert on the futility of non-Catholic spiritual exercises, as is clear in my post from 2006 riffing on the Pope’s notorious remark equating Buddhism with masturbation.
The post provides background on the Pope’s travails in Brazil by exploring his clash-of-civilizations view of European Catholicism as the bulwark of the true faith against assaults by secularists, Freudians, and those brown and yellow people whose traditional cultures and philosophies offer only barren ground for Christianity.
It provides an interesting perspective on why the guy who previously headed the Inquisition might be better equipped to shrink the church to a core of true believers, than grow it by addressing Catholicism’s philosophical and historical relationship to other faiths.
CHINA HAND edits the very interesting website China Matters.