Apology for Christianity
On the front page of all my daily newspapers is the story of Pope John Paul II in Athens apologizing for all of the "sins" of the Roman Catholic church against the Greek Orthodox Church. Last year the Pope went to Jerusalem's Western Wall and apologized for all of the damage the Christian church had inflicted upon the Jews. Several years ago he finally apologized to Galileo (now dead) for his persecution by the Christian church. You remember Galileo. He told the Pope at that time that the bible and church dogma about the universe and the earth was totally false. Not a word of truth in it said Galileo. So, naturally the church went after him with all the power at their command. Of course, Galileo was correct and the bible and church were wrong.
Unfortunately, there are probably not enough days left in Pope John Paul's life to apologize for all the damage done by the Christian church in the last 2000 years.
When Alfred North Whitehead was the Chair of Philosophy at Harvard University, he made this observation: "Christian theology has been the greatest disaster in the history of the human race." Was he correct?' A brief review:
391 C.E. (A.D.):' Christians burn down one of the greatest libraries in the world in Alexandria. Over 700,000 scrolls were destroyed.
[note from the editor: the consensus of modern scholarship is that only the extension library was destroyed by Christians, containing over 40,000 scrolls]
500 to 1000 C.E.:' The church takes over and brings with it the cancer of the dark ages destroying almost everything that defined civilization. The Christian church all but wiped out education..technology...science.. medicine...history...art..and commerce. During this period the church amassed enormous wealth.
1099 C.E.:' Christian crusaders take Jerusalem and massacre Jews and Muslims.' In the streets were piles of heads, hands and feet. Millions were killed as a result of the Crusades. (note: Billy Graham still calls his preaching a "crusade").
1208 C.E.:' Pope Innocent orders a' Crusade against the French Cathars.' Over 100,000 were killed by Arnaud's men at Beziers.
1231 C.E.:' Pope Gregory IX establishes the Inquisition.' Inquisitors were given license to explore every means of horror and cruelty. Victims were rubbed with lard or grease and slowly roasted alive.' Ovens built to kill people, made famous by Nazi Germany, were first used in the Christian Inquisition of Eastern Europe. Hitler, by the way, said he admired Martin Luther more than any other German, because Luther despised the Jews. Gruesome tortures used on hundreds of thousands of non-Christians in the Inquisition were so repugnant and horrible that I cannot even describe them to you. The Inquisition spread as far as Goa, India.
1377 C.E.:' The Pope's army descended on the Italian town of Cessna. For three days and nights beginning on February 3, the slaughter continued. The squares were filled with blood. Women were violently raped...a ransom was placed on children and priceless works of art destroyed. Over 5000 were butchered.
1497 C.E.: The Church began an enormous burning in Florence. The works of Latin and Italian poets, illuminated manuscripts, women's ornaments, musical instruments, and paintings were all burned.
1500's C.E.:' The' witch hunts are going full speed ahead. Members of the clergy proudly report how many they have killed.' The Lutheran prelate Benedict Carpzov bragged that he had killed over 20,000 "devil worshippers." Historians estimate that more than nine million persons were executed after 1484, mostly women. This was as brutal as anything that happened in the Nazi's twentieth-century holocaust.
1572 C.E.: On St. Bartholomew's Day over 10,000 Protestants are slaughtered in France. Wrote Pope Gregory XIII:' "We rejoice that you have relieved the world of those wretched heretics."
George Bush, when he was President:' "I don't consider atheists to be citizens of America." Randall Terry, of "Operation Rescue", the anti abortion fanatic, "Its us against them. It is the God fearing people against the pagans of the United States."
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that "Christian theology has been, and is, a disease of the intellect."
In 1995, Pope John Paul II sent a letter to his Cardinals. He wrote:' "How can one remain silent about the many forms of violence perpetrated in the name of the Christian church...wars of religion...tribunals of the Inquisition and all other forms of violations of the rights of human beings.?"
John Paul does not have enough days left in his life to say "For my part....I am sorry" to all of the millions and millions of human beings slaughtered by the Christian church.....to all new discoveries of truth.... slaughtered by the church....or to a legacy that has promoted sexism...racism....the desecration of the natural environment and the intolerance of other world spiritual traditions from Buddhism to the American Indian.
Maybe the next Pope can be joined by others in continuing to say....."we
are sorry"...and showing it by deeds rather than only empty words.
"Apology for Christianity" is copyright ' 2001 by William Edelen.
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