I clipped this article, as well as the faces of Pope Francis and Obama, from the provincial German newspaper Mittelbayrische Zeitung of March 28, 2014. It talks about Obama’s visit last week to the Vatican and his 52 minute meeting with the pope. I underlined the following sentence:
Der Chef des kleinsten Staates der Welt, der allerdings eine moralische Weltmacht ist…
Loosely translated this means:
The head of state of the smallest nation state in the world, which is nonetheless a moral superpower…
This sentence refers to the pope as the head of state of the Vatican, the smallest nation state in the world. It then adds that the Vatican is a “moral superpower.”
This struck me as an unbelievably bold and arrogant statement. The Vatican a moral superpower? Moral?
Putting it in perspective for you, of course, the Mittelbayrische Zeitung is the daily newspaper of Regensburg, the heart of Bavaria, away from the cosmopolitan Munich, in a society that’s well over 90% Catholic and has been so for a thousand years. Regensburg is also where Pope Benedict grew up and served as a priest for several decades before he embarked on his further career. It’s no wonder that the local rag thinks of the Catholic church as a moral superpower.
In an age where the church still, systematically, abuses children and then covers it up, there are nonetheless entire countries who look the other way and honestly and sincerely believe the church has moral authority. In the United States, a lot of religious people have a hard time understanding how atheists can be moral.
They often ask why atheists don’t walk around raping women, robbing people, as if the potential punishment by their God was the only thing that kept them from descending into depravity.
I have met a lot of moral Christians, and I have met a lot of moral atheists. I would estimate that the percentage of moral traits is higher among atheists than it is in Christians. Might it be because atheists choose to be moral by their own free will?
Claiming the Vatican to be a moral superpower is blatant arrogance.