Saturday, April 23, 2011

Influence, Respect, Humility

There is something endearing about even a programmed, obviously staged event where the most prestigious, respected religious authority figure in the world appears to be humbly presenting himself in a modest setting, to respond to the confusion in the hearts of his adoring public.

As the single most impressive and important representative of God on Earth Pope Benedict XVI made his august presence available for enquiry. At the televised question-and-answer session that took place on Good Friday, Pope Benedict responded to a question by a Japanese child by his admission that he does not have "the answers" to human suffering.

No one is too grand or too important to hold themselves above and apart from ordinary people. Particularly those people whose lives have been touched by God and who acknowledge their need to worship their Saviour during this time of his resurrection celebrated in a yearly ritual of mourning and joyfulness.

And Pope Benedict holds himself responsible for his vast flock, as must a pope do.

It is to his great credit that he has not shied away from the need to speak forcibly and without diplomatic guile to the modern-day forces of brutal violence expressed through the resentment of another, competing religion, against the followers of the Roman Catholic Church. He has pleaded repeatedly for Muslim countries to respect the human rights of Christians.

He has responded to the outrage of his own parishioners - for all those who worship at the altar of the Roman Catholic Church are his parishioners - against the depredations of parish priests and their superiors in violating the trust and the faith of children by sexually abusing them for decades. His response has been one of anguish - and of guilt.

"I am saddened", he said "that I can do so little". Referring without doubt, to the proclivities of human beings whose spirit and courage has not been equal to the demands placed upon them in the service of God. He is saddened, that though he reproves and protests against humankind's continual surrender to tribal, clan and religious destruction, passions are unabated.

He often enough - because, as the major representative as he would have it, of God upon this planet, he is infallible, and his decision is to be respected - infuriates both the faithful and those for whom his faith is not theirs. He seeks to be a unifying force for goodness yet he is often seen as a divisive force through his decisions.

Given his due, his is an impossible task. And even when tasks are possible there is the reality that no one can possibly ever satisfy all people all the time. He likely comes as close to that impossible goal as anyone may.

But then ... on the other hand ...

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