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Scoop Feedback: Appraising The Pope

Dear Sir / Madam,

Re: The Old Man In The Vatican Is In The Middle But Not At The Center

Christianity emerged more or less in the middle of human history and in many countries the starting point of their solar calender, is the birthyear of Jesus Christ (AD=Anno Domini, BC=Before Christ). Buddhists, Hindu's, Jews and Muslims are using the lunar calendar.

Christianity was preceeded by six major religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Shintoism, Taoism and Zoroatrianism. It was followed by Bahaism, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism and many other smaller religions.

Notwithstanding this enormous variety of faiths, Pope John Paul II and his ultra-conservative adviser Cardinal Ratzinger are still convinced that Roman-Catholism(RC) is the authentic religion in the world and that only the adherents to this faith will be saved (salvation). Recently the Pope went even one step further and publicly expressed doubt about the salvation of the Anglicans, Orthodox and Protestants, who are his Christian brothers. May be he thinks that there is a second-class heaven and hell reserved for them somewhere.

Notwithstanding the fact that Jesus Christ was born as a Jew and an adherent of the Judaist religion, the Pope's relations with Judaism are still not one of the best. Also his contacts with Islam, the third mono-theistic religion, are very limited.

Recently he made a big mistake by beautifying Pope Pius IX. With this act he antagonized not only the Jews, but also his brother in Christ, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican church, who protested vigorously. It is well known that Pope Pius IX had anti-semitic inclinations, but what is worse is that he proclaimed the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, and Papal Infallibility.These two dogmas will make unification of all Christians very difficult to realize, because they are not acceptable to the non-RC Christians.

The Pope's relations with the non-monotheistic religions are negligable. It is very rare to see a Buddhist, Hindu or Taoist dignitary in the Vatican. The Buddhist Patriarch of Sri-Lanka, once refused to meet the Pope in Colombo, because he had declared in one of his addresses, that Buddhism is atheistic. From a purely theological point of view this may be correct, because Buddhism does not have a God. But in the ears of many people in the world, the word atheism has a rather negative connotation. On a number of occasions, the Pope has also declared, that the RC Church reserves the right to proselytize adherents of other religions.This statement will definitely not improve his popularity amongst other religions and particularly not with Hindu's and Muslims.

Visitors to old fashioned RC churches in Italy, Latin America, Poland and Spain with their colourful images, flowers, candles, incense and the use of water, will have undoubtely noticed, that they look very much the same as Buddhist, Hindu or Taoist temples. In this connection it may be of interest to mention, that according to Tibetan manuscripts, Jesus did not spend 17 years (12-29 AD) in the carpenter shop of his father Joseph, but that he travelled in caravans to the East, first as a student and later as a teacher. In these countries he mastered Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, learned to heal and cast out devils, and prepared himself for his three years of teaching in Palestine (30-33 AD). The Bible is almost mute about this period in the life of Jesus Christ. The only exception is Luke 2-52 where it says: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men".

Pope John Paul II has done very little, in a practical way, to stop the violence between Roman-Catholics ( Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zaire), between Christians (Bosnia, Northern Ireland), between Christians and Muslims (Indonesia, Philippines, Sudan and Yugoslavia) and between Christians and Hindus (India).

He is a stern opponent of birth-control, extra-marital sex, homo-sexuality, eusthanasia, and the ordination of female priests. He is very much in favour of the celibacy of his own priests.

The unification of, or at least, the improvement of the understanding and relations between the thousands of religions in the world, has a very low priority for this Pope. This notwithstanding the fact, that religions, even at the present time, very often are at the root of very violent conflicts, which have killed millions of people and transformed innocent and peaceful civilians into miserable refugees. It is also significant, that the Pope was absent at the recent inter-religious meeting at the United Nations in New York.

The great achievement of Pope John Paul II's pontificate has been, without any doubt, his role in the peaceful elimination of communism in Europe and some other countries in the world.

Historians will have the last word, in appraising the significance of this remarkable, conservative religious leader both in the history of the RC church and the world as a whole.

With kind regards,

Frans Soede

Publisher of the Website E-mail: Address: Patong Resort suite # 532, Patong Beach. Phuket 83150, Thailand. Telephone: 66 76 340551

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