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The Pope, God, Turkey and Islam

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Pope Benedict XVI on his pilgrimage to Turkey, stopped at a small Orthodox Catholic Church, and told Christians that are living in this largely Islamic land that they are not forgotten about by other Christians, and that Islamic nations must do more and give more freedoms to their Christian minorities. He also brought up the complaint of Islam's that are living in western countries, who claim they are discriminated against. Islamic countries have actual state-sponsored restrictions on Christians and he said that Islam should understand it should work both ways, less discrimination against Muslims in the west, and more freedom for Christians in the Islamic countries.

His arrival in Turkey brought headlines on a few Islamic websites and some newspapers that lambasted him for his reference to Islam in a 14th century paper that put Muslims in a very bad light. They did not accept his statement that they "misunderstood" what he was trying to say and wanted an apology where he admits wrongdoing. He has refused to do that and ignores the threats against him as Turkey, a nation that is doing everything it can to become a member nation of the EU, has taken security precautions and the Pope is heavily guarded by troops and police. The Pope indicated to reporters when asked if he was worried about possible violence against him, said he is not afraid.

The Pope is meeting with the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church that spilt with Rome over a thousand years ago over issues like papal primacy. He will meet with Patriarch Bartholomew I, to talk about healing what has been called the "Great Schism".

This is an event of historical proportions. When this Pope was elected after Pope John died, it was expected then that he would be a "caretaker" Pope. With the recent statements he has made and his objection to Turkey joining the EU according to statements that he made before he was elected Pope, many consider him now to be an activist type Pope that has no intention of being a "caretaker". He has certainly not been a quiet Pope. Muslims have accused him of being a "Crusader" Pope. The Pope, to his credit, has responded by saying statements such as this just fans the flames of hatred between religions and that religions should stop being the cause or the shield for violence in the world.

I totally agree with him. This notion that my religion or my God is better than yours is one reason that people can't get along. Even in this country we have divisions because of religion. I am not religious but I respect people who are. I mean people that truly believe instead of people that use religion as an excuse to hate someone because they are a different religion than they themselves are, or people who hide behind a religious veneer only to hide their own depravity and shamelessness. I have seen too much of that in my lifetime. Sometimes I wonder why we have religions at all. What, or who, decides which is the correct religion? If you ask a thousand people what religion is the best, I can tell you from experience that most people will tell you that it is the religion that they belong too.

So now we have the Pope in Turkey, an Islamic nation. If he succeeds in reuniting the two factions of Catholicism than he will certainly have a legacy. I don't think it can be done, but with Christians' against Muslims in this day and age you never know. Not being religious myself, I don't understand all of it. I believe there is a power greater than myself or other humans. I don't believe that he or she or it would condone us killing each other because of a difference of understanding of who or what God is. I think that religion is used by humans to gain power over other humans. It's that simple. Back before Christianity and Islam, rulers were themselves God. How could you rise up against God? Nowadays, people don't claim to be God, they claim to know what it is the God wants us to do. It changes with each person that is "in the know" so to speak. Whether it's the Pope, or The Patriarch, or the Ayatollah, or any other spiritual leader. Once you bring God into your idea of the way life is, it's not an idea anymore, it's a conviction. If you succeed in making other people believe it, why, then it's a tenant. To me it's all crap. I don't think anyone knows any more than the next guy who or what God is. Even the most spiritual person on Earth when you ask them why they believe what they believe, they will tell you "because I have faith". In other words, they don't know either.

They like to use the "hereafter". That's something nobody has come back to report about. If there is a hereafter, I don't think you are going to get punished because you picked the wrong religion. It's a crapshoot. I do believe whether or not you were good or bad might have something to it. After all, everything has an opposite; good-bad, right-wrong, love-hate, black-white, ying-yang, old-young. Everything has a cause and an effect.

So I wish this Pope well, and I'm proud that he's his own man, and not just a caretaker Pope. The thing I am worried about though is that he will stick his foot in his mouth again, or get himself assassinated. Then we will have every Christian; yes even the ones who are not Catholic, calling for the removal of every Muslim on the face of this Earth. Sometimes I wish we had another planet to live on. Someplace where people just want to get along, and where everyone never talks about religion or tries to be the most powerful. It sure isn't going to be this one. At least not in my lifetime.
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Tim Gatto is Ret. US Army and has been writing against the Duopoly for the last decade. He has two books on Amazon, Kimchee Days or Stoned Colds Warriors and Complicity to Contempt.

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