Even if Peter was the first Roman bishop, which he wasn’t, that adds nothing to the authority of today’s pope. The poorly documented and ethically flawed ideas of a person who may or may not have existed, and who died nearly two thousand years ago, can’t be transferred through a chain of hundreds of men, nor can they be used to adjudicate on issues for which there’s no historical precedent.
How could “Jesus” have an opinion about Muslims, evolution, vaccinations, anaesthetics, the contraceptive pill, global warming or stem cell research? The Vatican claims today’s pope has a supreme god given authority, as if Jesus could somehow beam his opinions down to the pontiff. That’s a slight against common sense.
Consider this from another angle. Popes have behaved atrociously and made numerous immoral proclamations over the centuries. Their history could keep today’s reader appalled and entertained for weeks! (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vatican/esp_vatican30.htm#Contents ). If we accept the Vatican’s premise that the pope is Christ’s vicar on earth, Jesus has given license to anti Semitism, crusades against Islam, the murder and torture of millions in the inquisition and witch hunts, wars against Protestants, incest within many popes’ own families, the stealing of people’s assets, such as from the Knights Templar, misogyny, pedophilia, prostitution, the suppression of women, attacks against scientists, homophobia, the rise of Nazi Germany and the protection of their war criminals, money laundering, the spread of Aids by the demonising of condom use, and much more. I don’t think Jesus was that bigoted, greedy or evil.
The Vatican’s spokesmen have the audacity to maintain they’re God’s messengers to man only because for them the benefits of power are more important than common sense, human decency and truth. The only exceptions to this generalisation to be found historically are in some of the declarations of Vatican 2 in the 1960′s, which proposed a more humanitarian attitude. Subsequent popes to date have moved away from these more progressive (for them) teachings. In so doing they’ve alienated themselves from most thinking people, and from many of their own theologians.
Rather than preach to the people, I think today’s Vatican should cower in shame for past and present sins against humanity. They’ve no real humility. There have been some qualified apologies, but they’re always followed up by more proselytising.
They can’t help themselves; it’s part of their corporate culture.
They’ve never voluntarily offered any money to help right past wrongs. Instead, the Vatican and its subsidiaries have created financial structures with one purpose in mind; to protect their assets from people seeking compensation for all the abuse. They spend millions on lawyers, accountants and PR people to protect their image and their assets. The cash flow mustn’t be compromised.
The papacy keeps performing and profiting because they’re arrogant and powerful. They regularly comment in the media about current affairs and ethical issues, as if most of the world is listening to them, which they aren’t. Their spiel always encourages people to pray, which achieves nothing other than promote the existence of their hypothetical god. Their comments are just some free advertising which makes them appear benevolent. Enough of the people are patronised and placated to make it profitable. Most common Catholics don’t see through the spiel, and the ones that do aren’t confident enough to criticise them.
The Italians obviously know how to put on a good show and how to manage the media. The pomp and ceremony, the public prayers, and the extravagant displays of wealth are all part of a ploy designed to keep most of the little people on their knees and subsidizing their circus.
The Vatican’s track record contradicts their claim that they preach an infallible moral code. Consider their past attitude to slavery, eunuchs, heretics, witches, astronomy, evolution, anesthetics, biblical infallibility, vaccinations, Nazis, Jews, Muslims, and Protestants. ( http://markhumphrys.com/science.religion.html ). They’ve been forced to revise their attitudes as the generations have gone by to keep some credibility in an increasingly tolerant and fair world. If they were pillars of ethical wisdom, and if they really cared about people’s welfare, they wouldn’t have made so many mistakes.
They’ve failed to learn humility from their own history. They’re unashamedly dogmatic about their present day beliefs and rules, as if they’ve always been correct about everything. It’s probable that in the future they’ll reverse their thinking about birth control, homosexuality, women priests, premarital sex, genetic engineering, the validity of other religions, the power of prayer, and stem cell research, in the same way they’ve flipped their opinions on these other issues.
Given the Vatican’s track record, their so-called teachings should be considered with the utmost suspicion. When they try to lecture the world on ethical issues, people should demand objective reasons for their proclamations, and insist they be based on humanitarian principles, not biblical bullshit.
I think they hide their real agendas behind a mask of benevolence and respect for human dignity, which is just a facade to cover their greed and their self-promotion.