Pope - Pursuit of Wealth Wrong

A few days ago I wrote about the rampant hypocrisy spouted by the leaders of the Anglican church, in regard to the current financial crisis. Hypocrites? Of Course not, They're our Spiritual Leaders!

Not to be out-done, the Pope had a few things to say about the evils of wealth too.

Well, lets not kid ourselves here. We all pretty much know that every time the Catholic church says anything at all, it will include at least a smidgen of hypocrisy, but for that organisation to talk about the evils of wealth is going way beyond the pale.

The Pope said that the global financial crisis is proof that that the pursuit of money and success is pointless. He also said that the disappearance of money as banks collapsed showed that wealth meant nothing.

This is taking the argument a little too far, though I partly agree with the second statement. The pursuit of wealth can hardly be pointless, and worked a dream for the Catholic church. Irresponsible management and poor foresight have brought us to the current banking problems; a responsible pursuit of wealth and success would bring just that, in smaller quantities but more sustainably, surely.

He then went on to say that people should instead base their lives on God's word (as interpreted by yours truly, naturally).

So, people should give up all ambition, all desire to enrich themselves, and instead crawl at the feet of your merciful God.

Those who think that "concrete things we can touch are the surest reality" are deceiving themselves, said the holy one, clutching his golden, jewel encrusted and probably priceless staff.

In a strong field, that ranks as the most laughable thing I've heard a spiritual leader say for quite some time.

There is no reality other than the one spoken of in this collection of ancient stories, the interpretation of which we've altered down the centuries to suit political needs or the whimsy of popes; this truth, that we have moulded and remoulded as occasion demanded, is what you really need to live your life. All this stuff, this apparently 'real' stuff you see around you, is mere illusion, not real at all. The real world is the spiritual one, with a God who looks after us all, if you grovel before him. Now, I know you can't see him or talk to him, but don't worry, I can! And I'll always interpret his wishes for you. Oh, and if you believe, I mean really believe that God is there, you'll be able to feel him. Now, about our fee...

As for the evils of money, I was unable to find a reliable estimate of the Catholic church's wealth, but the value of its property holdings, in the US alone, is estimated to be larger than the net worth of the three largest US corporations combined (the estimate was made before the current financial crisis). With a worldwide reach, you can perhaps imagine how much cash it must have locked away in buildings. It has many billions of pounds worth of gold, both in ornamentation and ingot and bullion reserves. Unregulated by any secular government, This immensely wealthy organisation holds power over the thoughts and actions of over a billion people worldwide. Don't know about you but that scares the shit out of me.

So just how did the Pope become (possibly) the richest man in the world?

The Catholic church has operated for more than 1500 years as an extremely successful business. It has raised taxes, demanded contributions from peasants and nobles alike, offered indulgences (go on then, do something unholy if you must, just slip us a bit of gold and I'll get God to turn a blind eye), demanded tribute from Kings and Emperors, (give us gold, lots of gold, and I won't criticise your rule; refuse and I'll excommunicate you, leaving you vulnerable to invasion by the 'faithful'), sold 'relics' to gullible people (if all the 'splinters of the one true cross' are genuine, Jesus must have been crucified on a cross more than 30 feet high), and in an absolutely blinding moment of inspiration, invented purgatory. What a winner that was! As I mentioned in The Road to Rationalism Part 2 , this made them an absolute fortune. In hitting on the idea of calculating how long an individual would spend in purgatory, and offering to reduce that time for a healthy amount of gold (the more you pay, the quicker you can go to heaven, sucker!) the church hit on what I think has to be the greatest confidence trick in history. Until quite recently, the church had more wealth than all of the European empires, kingdoms and principalities combined.

Stalin once sarcastically asked of the Pope, in a typical example of his bullish stupidity, "How many divisions has he?" He completely underestimated the power of the church's wealth and influence over its followers.

So how has the church used its massive wealth and power for the good of the people its god loves so much?

By torturing and burning countless people who disagreed, by ordering and funding wars against 'infidels' and political rivals (using the trump card of excommunication) Seeking control and dominion over every person alive, and for all time after their death, sending out hordes of psychopathic inquisitors to root out 'heresy' and witchcraft, happily burning people for the merest whiff of non-conformity, demanding that everyone obeys its pathological rules and condemning all who don't, and generally making everyone know just what a load of worthless, miserable sinners they all are. Oh, and of course more recently exacerbating the population problem and spread of AIDS by refusing to allow the use of contraceptives.

So, Cardinal Joseph multi-billionaire Hitler-youth Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI, you delusional old hypocrite, how dare you lecture the world about the evils of wealth, when your organisation has used its fortune to cause misery and death to countless millions of people for more than 1500 years.

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Candace said...

The Pope lecturing on the evils of wealth. Oh, that is rich. As it were.

Snave said...

Nice to find a blog which talks about reason and religion. Nicely done!

I voted for "Meddle", by the way. I think "Echoes" has to be my all-time favorite Floyd track. Other favorite tracks of theirs for me include "Obscured by Clouds", "One of These Days", "Have a Cigar" and "Careful With That Axe, Eugene". What a great band, and what an underrated keyboardist Wright was. I am a keyboard player in a band, and thus I tend to tune in to Wright when I listen to Pink Floyd... and I have come to realize he, like John Paul Jones with Led Zeppelin, was a huge part of what gave the band its sound.

Dave said...

Thanks Snave, and you're right about Wright, he was the unsung hero of the band. One of my favourite tracks is Summer '68, written and sung by Wright. All time favourite track might just be Wish You Were Here, though its a strong field!

As for the blog content, I'm a little fish in a very big pond, but I witter away about things that annoy or amuse me. If you like science, reason and atheist themed blogs, make sure you take a look at the stuff on my bloglist and the blogroll - there's some great stuff out there.