Monday, June 01, 2009

Thumbnail Sketches; Two Powerful Men

One, the head of the holy Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, a man who emerged from a modest childhood to become the shepherd and leader of the most populous religion on Earth. A man with a mission; to spread the word of a charitable and understanding God, one who views all people universally as of his flock.

The other, also of a modest background, the most influential Muslim cleric of the times, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of The Islamic Republic of Iran.

Comparing the two, their experience, their place on the world stage, their agendas, one must admit that Pope Benedict appears as a beneficent and kindly figure, despite very human stumbles and maladroit handling of prickly and brittle-nuanced situations. Pope Benedict seeks to assure his flock that their needs are not forgotten by a forgiving Spirit. He sees it as his mission to enlarge and confirm and enhance the presence of Roman Catholics the world over.

He also avers that it is his intention to dedicate himself to the unification of his own Church and the reconciliation of his Church to that of other Christian denominations, and to extend that open harmony to other world religions. To this he attempts to devote himself, extending a hand of friendship to those who will meet his. He is hampered by his orthodoxy, his traditionally rigid conformity to church dogma.

He is also hampered by Roman Catholic demands of its clerics, denying their humanity and in the process ensuring that they will commit cardinal sins against those most vulnerable in society who depend upon the righteous and morally-superior guidance of their priestly mentors, who, in too-large numbers, repay their dependence and trust with sexual predation.

As for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, this is a man busy beyond belief on a mission to restore to Iran a position of dominance in the hierarchy of Islamic countries, one to which all other Muslim nations should look for the manner in which they must perform their obeisance to Allah and the strictures imposed upon them by the Koran and Islamic teachings.

It is to Muslims only that he concerns himself, to ensure that their practise is commensurate with the Islamist ideal. He is as religious and ideologically rigid as is his Catholic counterpart. But whereas Pope Benedict preaches peace and forbearance, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei teaches the perfection of the Islamist jihad and the impaired position of other religions as redundant.

Ayatollah Khamenei controls the mad utterances of Iran's President Ahmadinejad. As a former minister of defence of his country and a former president during the Iran-Iraq war, he is no stranger to conflict, and he does not shirk the brutality of war. Instead, he encourages the concept of war, of the potential to obliterate from the presence of the Middle East, the presence of a vile interloper-presence on sacrosanct Islamic soil.

He reaches beyond the borders of his own country to control and direct Syria's disruptive presence in the area, and to encourage and guide under the guise of performing Allah's divine work, the terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas. It would be as though Pope Benedict encouraged the Irish Republican Army to destroy all Protestants and their governments in Ireland with a view to controlling the British Isles.

Goodness radiating from one, while he steps unerringly in cowpies of one kind or another, enhancing his very humanity. Diabolical malevolence seeping from the presence of the other.

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