Sunday, April 24, 2005

Some thoughts on Pope John Paul II's greatness

Although not a catholic, It did think that Pope John Paul II was a great man. Many world leaders said so too, but their reason was often to do with the fall of communism. My reasons are quite different - he did three things that earned my respect:

Pardoned Galileo who was quite correct in his scientific views on the Earth going around the Sun and had been persecuted by the Church. I saw this as a kind of peace-making with, if not an actual apology to, scientists.

Apologised to Jews for the inquisition and was the first Pope to visit a Synagogue.

Apologised to Muslems for the crusades and visited a number of Muslem countries.

Through these acts he acknowledged some of the darkest acts of the Church. This is a kind of confessional for the Church itself and makes clear the intention to be more respectful of other people's views in the future.

There are other cases of the Church acting in a similar way to the above three. Whether Pope John Paul II was aware of these I do not know, but suspect that he would have addressed them if he was aware and had the opportunity. One such is the treatment of Buddhists, particularly Buddhist Monks, in South East Asia. For example, Portugese Catholics burried Buddhist Monks in the earth up to their necks and ran ploughs over their heads. This is very far from proper behaviour as taught by both Jesus Christ and the Buddha who both taught us to love all, including your enemies (that is, have no enemies).

May the new Pope carry on, as he has already stated he will, to have a friendly and understanding relationship with other faiths and beliefs.

May all be happy


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