Politicians and used car salesmen the world over have used the bait and switch tactic employed by Pope Benedict during his UK visit. It was easy to talk over the faithful masses because they didn’t want to think about how priests raped countless children or how Benedict helped to cover any of it up and has since offered nothing more than polite contrition. Let’s see how many words about something else will make you forget.
In his article about Benedict’s Edinburgh address, the Guardian‘s Andrew Brown appears to have left behind his ability to add two and two. Instead of four, his answer was something akin to “banana.” Brown insisted the Pope didn’t mean “us,” or even one of the UK’s most vocal atheists, Richard Dawkins, when he saddled atheism’s horse with Hitler’s actions. Who then did he mean?
Benedict said, “Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.”
That sounded Nazi-exclusive enough until he went on to say, “As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a reductive vision of the person and his destiny.”
Much religious speech has bombarded the world with the insistence that Muslim terrorists do not the nation of Islam define and those who murder in the name of God are not the poster children for Christianity. But the second a religious leader can’t create enough distance between himself and the atrocities of proclaimed followers, he invokes the most tired war cry of all: They must have been atheists!
Benedict didn’t just equate Hitler’s actions with atheism. He drew an unholy line between those who executed millions and those who don’t need a higher power to keep them from killing anyone.
That said, have you forgotten about the Pope’s contribution to and responsibility for the priests who raped countless children? So did the many who heard him speak.
Benedict has drawn no line of terror between Catholicism and those who, just like the Nazis, used their positions victimize the innocent. He has not publicly accused a single priest of being an atheist. And his focus on past atrocities committed by others does purposefully come at the expense of those who, in part because of Benedict himself, are suffering right now.
Take another look at his words: “…let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a reductive vision of the person and his destiny.” Benedict could just as easily have said this about those within his flock who have violated the humanity of children, but he didn’t.
He’d rather you despise atheists.