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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

March 21, 2008

Pope Benedict does it again

Filed under Life in Europe

"All good things come in threes" is a German saying. Even though he now lives in Italy, it seems that German Pope Benedict XVI remembers that saying. For the third time in as many years he has offended people.

In September 2006 Pope Benedict XVI sparked violent protests in the Muslim world when he gave a speech in Regensburg, Germany and quoted a medieval Christian emperor who equated Islam with violence: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Then last summer the Catholic church reinforced its view that only in the Catholic church the fullness of the church exists. One of the proofs for that claim is papal succession, which is "unbroken" only in the Catholic church. The statement drew critical comments from Protestants all over the world.

Now Benedict has offended the Jews on this "Good Friday" holiday, the day that in traditional Christianity is erroneously considered to be the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Benedict authorized the use of the old Latin "Good Friday" prayer that hasn’t been used since the 2nd Vatican Council in 1964. The traditional Latin prayer reads: "Let us also pray for the Jews, that our Lord God would illuminate their hearts so they will recognize Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all human beings." The Jews and apparently even some Catholics are offended by this wording, which the Jews view as an attempt to "Christianize" them.

Perhaps Benedict doesn’t have a skilled public relations department. Then again . . .

The news this week from Europe includes a threat of violence in Europe by Osama bin Laden if Europeans – mainly the Danes – continue to public caricatures of Mohammed.

Sunday-keeping Protestants upset by last summer’s Catholic statement appear foolish, since they already accept papal authority. The only authority for making Sunday the weekly day of rest is that of the Pope.

And since Acts 4:12 tells us that the only name through which we can be saved is Jesus, what’s wrong with a prayer that those who reject Jesus will someday accept him?

There’s another German proverb: Sweep in front of your own front door before you look for dirt on your neighbor’s doorstep. I wonder if Benedict remembers that saying. :-)

A church that contradicts the Bible by teaching that Jesus’ mother Mary – who is dead in her grave and not in heaven – is a mediator between man and God really hasn’t accepted what the Bible says about Jesus. Will Benedict have the courage to "offend" Catholics by repudiating the belief that Mary lives in heaven?

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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