Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Papal`s Visit to Turkey

Having been born into and raised as a Catholic, the Pope has always been and perhaps in a way will always be a revered figure to me. However,the office of the Papal has over the years started to hold less and less importance and it must be said reverence in my personal view.

I haven`t been to confession for almost 20 years,same for taking the holy communion and i havent been to mass for 15 years save for the odd New Year`s eve service but i still regard myself as a catholic. So it is with much regret that i have to say i have no time for the new Pope, Benedict Ratzinger. He was quoted,not too long ago as referencing a 14th century byzantine emperor who said islam never brought anything but evil to humanity. By that he meant war and destruction. Well i think christianity too has its fair share of blood to account for. Over the centuries atrocities have been commited in the name of both religions. Even as we speak the Catholic Church stand accused of shielding it`s priests accused of sexual assault. Millions are being paid out in compensation. When the shit hit the fan Ratzinger explained he was only quoting what was said. You only use qoutes that way to butress a point. Dont get me wrong i am no apologist for islam or moslems but that statement was most impertinent.

His submission before becoming the pope, that EU memmbership should be denied to Turkey because according to him islam is a different culture from that of mainly christian Europe,is so flawed and simplistic i find it hard to believe someone occupying that august seat would come out with such arrant nonsense. Check this from Rantzinger-

"The roots that have formed Europe, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe.

"There were the old Ottoman Empire wars against the Byzantine Empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. It would be an error to equate the two continents...Turkey is founded upon Islam ... Thus the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical."

Would someone please remind his holiness that this is the 21st century and not the 1300s.His papacy seems to be residing in some kind of time-warp and needs to be woken up. What happened or did not happen in those medieval times are nothing much than history. A collection of events and actions,which by and large are open to interpretations depending on which version or point of view you subscribe to. Moreso the values celebrated those days are not necessarily in tandem with today`s. What a nation`s membership of an entity as the European Union has to do with what happened there aeons ago really i do not know.There are set conditions for membership of the European Union and it is against these conditions that Turkey`s desire for European integration should be judged. Is the country geographically located in Europe? Is it a democracy? Sound economic policies ? Open to and able to withstand outside market forces? These are the factors that serve as the framework and the basis for inclusion in the Union and not some fisherman`s wife tales.

What does the Pope mean by `equating the two continents`? What does he mean by anti-historical? One can only deduce that his social,political and historical philosophy is disturbingly jaundiced. Disturbing because as the Pope he has a platform and a voice. The world listens when he opens his mouth. If what comes out is informed by retrogressive,seemingly reckless or myopic thinking then he runs the risk of losing the respect and ears of all right thinking, objective observers thus bringing further discredit to the Church.

The Turkish authorities did well inviting him to Turkey.Good on him for accepting the invitation.Only has to keep in mind this is 2006.

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