"Silent longing" for Christianity


Reuters reported yesterday that the Pope had claimed that the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere "welcomed the arrival of European priests at the time of the conquest as they were 'silently longing' for Christianity." Naturally, Indian leaders in Brazil were pissed off at the arrogance of such a statement.

As the article pointed out,

Millions of tribal Indians are believed to have died as a result of European colonization backed by the Church since Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, through slaughter, disease or enslavement.
In my view, claiming that people who have another religion imposed on them by force are "silently longing" for it is kind of like saying that a rape victim was really asking for it. But hey, that's just me.

Maybe when you spent much of your professional career rooting out heresy, as the current Pope did before he got his current gig, then the idea there is only One True Religion (your own, of course) becomes so ingrained in your thinking that respect for other peoples, their religious backgrounds, and their autonomy just sort of eludes you. On the other hand, maybe the current Pope is just a dufus. It's hard to know.


Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

My sense is that Benedict's Eurocentrism got the better of him. All the reports from Brazil suggest that there was a signficant disconnect between him and Latin America.

My sense is that there will be a strong push the next time out to get a Latin American as Pope -- otherwise Latin America could ultimately be lost to the Catholic Church.

Mystical Seeker said...

You might be right. The irony is that he tried so hard to stamp out Liberation Theology from that region of the world, and now he is at risk for losing the church from that region altogether. Then again, isn't Benedict of the opinion that it is better to have a smaller church as long as it is more theologically pure?

Heather said...

I don't think it's just you. It's possible that I overreact to attitudes such as that, but the Pope's comment just seems to be one more example of lack of listening skills. Only in this case, lack of a sense of history, as well. Plus, it just seems to dismiss a lot of tragedy and pain.

All I could think is, "Jesus wouldn't make a comment like that." And now I'm slipping into my judgemental mode.