Seeing Little in the Holy See

By William J. Furney
The Bali Times

It’s no wonder the pope was sounding off on Good Friday that there’s “a desert of godlessness” in the world today. It’s precisely because of his medieval outlook and his agents’ godless goings-on that people have turned away in their droves.

The only places the pontiff is able to drum up delirious converts is in developing, save-us nations such as those of dried-up Africa, where Benedict XVI has just returned from a bout of country-hopping.

It was while there that the pope sought fit to issue a proclamation on condoms, that they’re basically ineffective in tackling the scourge of HIV/AIDS sweeping the African continent, and not only that, but they increase the risk of contraction of the disease.

It’s hard to know how a leader of millions of people could be so out of touch with the times we live in, yet the aged pontiff used his address last Friday to lash out at those who would lash him, saying “Religious sentiments” were nowadays perceived as “unwelcome leftovers of antiquity” and “held up to scorn and ridicule.”

At least he’s got that last part right, but it’s disconcerting that the Holy See hasn’t moved with modernity and woken up to the way people live today, even – surprise! – with God.

Just as the Association of Southeast Nations, the United Nations and other lofty groupings of talking shops have in recent years become irrelevant due to their impotence, the Vatican has also become extraneous and diluted, especially so on morality lines.

The Vatican, however, is nothing if not rooted in a sea of tradition that has stretched back unbroken for centuries – witness the bizarre drama of a pope’s election, replete with theatrical smoke signals when a successor is chosen (try a mike!). That’s all very well and nice, and, much like the British royal family, is great for tourism. But it doesn’t do much for the progression of humanity when its resulting edicts and views that seek to influence lives are as entrenched in the far-distance past.

The outrage of predator priests and the legions of misery they have caused people around the world has disgracefully not been hit harder on the head by this pontiff, and that’s done more than anything to dent Catholicism’s image worldwide.

So are we to wonder why the world reacts with such head-shaking scorn when the pope issued his condom pronouncement? Hardly.

It’s a shame to see such a once-mighty institution go down the tubes, because apart from his severely outmoded stance, Benedict XVI, who turns 82 later this month, can offer contributions on the human condition. But the German-born theologian doesn’t always hit the mark.

The Catholic News Agency reported that as part of Easter celebrations just passed, the pope “focused on the sacrifice of the cross and how it proves ‘the fundamental law of human existence: Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.’

Two topics that are seen as causes for much of the economic crises, greed and selfishness, were also discussed.”

Ergo, to love your life results in an early demise while those who despise living are consumed by earthly pleasures that lead to their continual existence on Earth. Have a raging, deep debate if you want, but that’s about the gist of the sentiment.

It’s so much simpler – and stimulating – living in Bali and not having to hear nearby declarations on life from people who purport to uphold morality and understand the minutiae of existence while, in reality, trampling all over good and honest principals while living such a rarified existence they hardly know what life is about.

(The agency also reported that the leader of the Catholic Church said that “denial” and “self-sacrifice” were the requirements to living what he called a “just life” – essentially an austere existence that many would say is not living at all.)

The Catholic Church is certainly not alone in its insentience-driven alienation; there are many more in the established-religion ranks that are perusing the same lifeless policies. But as we’re seeing, year after year, the purported places of worship are fast emptying out as people seek real answers and advice to real-life problems and questions.

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