It's Time for a Little Humility

The only thing scarier than a fanatical Islamic cleric talking about jihad may be a fanatical Catholic talking about jihad. The Pope’s recent address enraged Muslims around the world leading to violence including the shooting of a nun. In quoting a medieval Catholic prince, the Pope described Islam as “evil and inhuman” in an address he described as designed as “an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue.” Well done, sir. I say, well done.

The Pope retracted some of his statements by saying he was reading a medieval text “which do not in any way express my personal thought.” Well, then why did you read it? So what you are saying is that this was an antiquated and inaccurate text as opposed to the more antiquated, but accurate Bible?

The whole affair from the initial speech to the apology stinks of hypocrisy. Any Catholic who demeaningly quotes that Muhammad “command to spread by the sword the faith he preached” has little understanding of the violent history of the Catholic Church. And the speech was “largely criticizing the West for submitting itself too much to reason” according to the NY Times. The Church has a long history of attacking science and reason, from imprisoning scientists for suggesting that the sun is the center of our solar system hundreds of years ago to attacking the volumes of scientific evidence for evolution today. History has shown that over time, science and reason has won most of those battles. Maybe it’s time to be using more reason than less, be more tolerant and a little more humble.

Perhaps the most interesting storyline here is that this is the first time (!?!) in recorded history that a Pope has apologized for his remarks. It is shocking to me that religious leaders are still highly regarded as infallible. They may be walking the path, but everyone has missteps.

The primary dimension by which I regard and respect organized religions is by their tolerance of other beliefs, in essence their own humility. I respect Buddhism and generic notions of personal spirituality and have gradually more objections as you approach Catholicism and then Islam.

Why is it so hard to understand that as long as you call the other person an infidel, an evil doer, or tell them they are going to hell, you are building barriers, not bridges. You are creating wars, not building peace. You are causing suffering.

Well, if the Pope can finally apologize for his remarks, maybe it’s time for us all to admit that we could be wrong. And by us, of course, I mean you. Just kidding.