Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pope's Bag o' Tricks

Perhaps we can stop calling Pope Benedict, né Joseph Ratzinger, Benny the Rat. He doesn't make it easy.

Thursday, he was trash talking, slamming everything from video games to toy guns to same-sex-marriage. In a prayer-service homily, he claimed to be saddened by divisions in various Christian churches. He apparently didn't perceive any culpability by predecessor Popes in fostering division, much less think that he has been doing so.

He did, however, find great hope in folk unifying in reactionary fervor. As the AP story put it:
In his homily, Benedict said through such encounters as Thursday's service it has been possible to perceive the joy of brotherhood, together with sadness for the tensions that remain.

The Vatican is eager for Christian churches to work together on positions they can share, such as opposition to abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriages.

Same week, different enemy...violent games and sexually explicit animation are big trouble, the International Herald Tribune quoted the Pope as saying. He "was concerned that media could have more influence on children than their family or teachers do."

Okay, so he doesn't get around much, at least without handlers.

At the game-industry site, Gamasutra, they stressed his call to game makers. He said, "Any trend to produce programmes and products - including animated films and video games - which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behaviour or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion, all the more repulsive when these programmes are directed at children and adolescents." His solution included, "Again I appeal to the leaders of the media industry to educate and encourage producers to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family."

The Herald Tribune piece added
  • "The pope said children should be introduced to classic literature, fine arts and 'uplifting music.'"
  • He called on game and video makers to support parents, schools and churches by promoting "fundamental human dignity, the true value of marriage and family life, and the positive achievements and goals of humanity."
  • These companies should "safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family."
  • The previous Sunday, he likewise called for campaigns to discourage kids from using toy weapons -- part of the "contagion" of violence.
In his Thursday homily, Benny preceded his call for fighting such evils as same-sex marriage with one for Christians coming together. He said "Honest and loyal dialogue constitutes the typical and indispensable instrument in the search for unity...Christians are praying so that all the disciples of Christ be one, so they can give harmonious testimony to the men and women of our times."

That unity apparently has its basis in being anti-gay, anti-marriage-equality, anti-women's-choice, among other themes. That's more than his right to opinion, making such pronouncements is a big part of his job.

On the other hand, these recent calls may be as influential as various Popes' edicts on birth control, pre-marital sex, adultery, and divorce. If Roman Catholics pay as much heed to what he said on this week's targets, this may be a good year to invest in video-game companies and to push for same-sex marriage.

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