"Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honour in the synagogues and the head table at banquets." (Luke 20:46)
So, Jesus was saying it 2000 years ago, and it remains frighteningly true today. (Especially disturbing when said leaders actually claim to be followers of Jesus. The guy who explicitly disapproved of the kind of pomp and circumstance that surrounds them. )
Perhaps the Pope has tired of his "infallible" label? He seems determined to disprove it by being wrong about EVERYTHING. Every day seems to bring a new opinion on something utterly irrelevant. Who does he think he is, Peaches Geldof?
The latest news from the Vatican's newspaper L'Osservatore Romano concerns the Beatles. The front-page article proclaims: 'It's true they took drugs, lived life to excess because of their success, even said they were bigger than Jesus and put out mysterious messages that were possibly even Satanic. They may not have been the best example for the youth of the day but they were by no means the worst. Their beautiful melodies changed music and continue to give pleasure.”
So, let me get this straight. The Beatles were Satanic. But they made nice music, so that’s ok? Ummm.... Whatever you say.
You might also be interested to know that, two years ago, the Vatican "forgave" John Lennon for saying The Beatles were 'bigger than Jesus', saying it was the "boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success". Well, thanks for clearing that up. (Dare I wonder if that headline-grabber coincided with a bout of paedophilia, too?)
You’ll be happy to know that, while the Vatican may be iffy on child abuse, they DO want to tell you which films your children shouldn’t be watching.
When New Moon (the second of the Twilight movies) hit cinemas last year, Vatican officials were moved to condemn it as "a moral vacuum with a deviant message". Evidently the Pope’s thoughts on teen fiction are based on what middle-of-the-road Christians want to hear.
Said Monsignor Franco Perazzolo, of the Pontifical Council of Culture:"The theme of vampires in Twilight combines a mixture of excesses that as ever is aimed at young people and gives a heavy esoteric element. It is once again that age-old trick or ideal formula of using extremes to make an impact at the box office. This film is nothing more than a moral vacuum with a deviant message and as such should be of concern."
Nothing more? Sir, you jest. The Twilight series has awakened a generation of teenage girls to romance, passion, and the joys of sexual abstinence. You’d think the Catholic church would be grateful that finally someone has managed to make it seem cool, desirable and even a bit sexy to "save yourself" for marriage.
Just to make it really obvious that they have read no more than the blurb on the back of the books, they completely miss the religious symbolism which permeates every line. (Yes, I finished the book and I loved it. SPOILERS AHEAD!) Hands up if you can spot the significance of:
a) the transformation into a Heavenly, indestructible body with eternal life
b) a baby that is born to a human mother and immortal father, and
c) a false prophet causing a battle over the child.
If you noticed the common thread, congratulations! You're more intelligent than a Vatican official.
It’s imperative to monitor what your children are reading, of course. But sexual abuse? Pah.
At a Palm Sunday service, The Pope claimed that Faith in God, leads "towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion". Dominant opinion being that PAEDOPHILIA IS WRONG?
On the plus side, he has managed to apologise for the abuse. Well, sort of.
Addressing the victims of abuse, he wrote: "You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated... I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel." He said those guilty of abuse must "answer before God and properly constituted tribunals for the sinful and criminal actions they have committed".
However, the massive cover-ups within the Catholic church is glossed over. The only direct reference is to "a misplaced concern for the reputation of the church and the avoidance of scandal".
Although the Pope said Vatican officials would visit Ireland to inspect some dioceses, he did not call for any restructuring of the church in Ireland. Nor has he called for the resignation of any bishops, although a few have already volunteered to leave their posts.
The head of the Catholic church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, has resisted calls to resign over his handling of abuse allegations in the 1970s that saw victims sign confidentiality agreements.
Sounds like they need to brush up on their New Testament reading – "How terrible that you should boast about your spirituality, and yet you let this sort of thing go on. Don’t you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected?" (1 Corinthians 5:6)
And don’t even get me started on the ban on contraception. Rebecca Hodes, of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, pointed out that if the Pope was serious about preventing new HIV infections he would focus on promoting access to condoms. "Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans."
The Roman Catholic Church believes marital fidelity and sexual abstinence are the best way to prevent the spread of HIV. Which would be fine, if people weren’t raping babies in a bizarre effort to "cure" themselves.
The pope has pointed out that condoms cannot cure HIV. Cure, no. But prevent from spreading? Yes, yes, yes!
Three-quarters of all Aids deaths in 2007 happened in South Africa. Maybe it’s time to stop listening to ill-informed men in frocks and use some common sense.