Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ratzinger doesn't have to apologize to anyone

In several posts, I have been rather critical of Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) and, as a Catholic, I will continue to do so where and when I think appropriate. It is in that vein that I decided to read his entire speech, not the snippets the Exempt Media has reported and which has caused a furore in the Muslim world. (Read it for yourself, here, in PDF format.)

Earlier today, Ratz said he apologized for any offence he caused. There was no need for him to do so. He was merely quoting a Byzantine Emperor in the 14th century, Manuel Paleologu II, who was critical of Mohammed -- rightly or wrongly. This didn't impress Morocco, one of the more secular Muslim majority states, who recalled its Ambassador to the Vatican for "consultations."

Let's face it, we're all guilty of using evil people and their quotes to make a point. The most famous of these is Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister, who said:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus
by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

As evil as the context in it which it was used -- justifying the Holocaust -- we've used it ever since to slam people who would restrict free speech, or who criticize political leaders for lying their way into war, irresponsible tax policies and using religion to justify terrorism -- and I think that's the point the Pope was trying to make. Unfortunately, people have only heard enough to presume Benedict co-opted the words Manuel for himself. The idiots who are so successful in having done this are the same as those who manage to persuade most Muslims that Jewish people booked off work the day of 9/11. Let's not forget, there are some who believe all wars are just, based on rather convoluted interpretations of the Bible; as is taking oil from the Middle East at bargain basement prices.

The Vatican still hasn't fully apologized for the abuse of children, or for that matter the atrocities it committed during the Crusades. But Benedict doesn't have to apologize for anything, at least not in this case. In fact, I think his effort to apologize may have weakened his position. People should actually take the time to check the facts. For some broadcasters and print media, however, truth is less important than ratings -- or riling up people to commit even more terrorist acts.

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