“Apostolic Succession” is Nonsense
Even if Peter was the first Roman bishop, which he was not, that adds nothing to the authority of today’s pope. The poorly documented and ethically flawed ideas of a person (Jesus) who may or may not have existed, and who died nearly two thousand years ago, cannot be transferred through a chain of hundreds of men, nor can they be used to adjudicate on issues for which there is 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 is 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 the Vatican’s premise that the pope is Christ’s vicar on earth is accepted, 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. Jesus was not that bigoted, greedy or evil.
The Vatican’s spokesmen have the audacity to maintain that they are God’s messengers to man only because for them the benefits of power are more important than common sense, 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 have alienated themselves from most thinking people, and from many of their own theologians.
Rather than preach to the people, it would be more appropriate for today’s Vatican to cower in shame for past and present sins against humanity. They have no real humility. There has been some qualified apologies, but these are always followed up by more proselytising. It seems they cannot change this, as it appears to be part of their corporate culture.
They have never voluntarily offered any money to help right past wrongs. Instead, the Vatican and its subsidiaries have often 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 must not be compromised.
The papacy keeps performing and profiting because they are 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 are not. Their spiel always encourages people to pray, which achieves nothing other than promote the existence of their hypothetical god and their non existent connection to a higher power. Their comments are free advertising which makes them appear benevolent. Enough of the people are patronised and placated to make it profitable. Many common Catholics do not see through the spiel, and the ones that do are not 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 the circus.
A Poor Track Record on Moral Issues
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, anaesthetics, biblical infallibility, vaccinations, Nazis, Jews, Muslims, and Protestants. ( http://markhumphrys.com/science.religion.html ). They have been forced to revise their bad 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 would not have made so many mistakes.
They have failed to learn humility from their own history. They are unashamedly dogmatic about their present day beliefs and rules, as if they have always been correct about everything. It is probable that in the future they will 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 have 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.
They hide their real agendas behind a mask of benevolence and respect for human dignity, which, it can be argued, is just a facade to cover their greed and their self-promotion.