Among the things I don't understand in life there certainly is the fact that still many people agree, or at least don't complain, that the Pope has the right to speak out in political matters and influence the development of social life.
For example, recently in the public Italian tv, journalist Roberto Balducci, whose task was to cover Vatican affairs (I hardly imagine a more boring duty), has committed the terrible sin to say the truth regarding the attendance to one of the weekly meetings the Pope holds in St. Peter's Square: he acknowledged, in fact, that there were very few people (well, he used a typical Italian expression "quattro gatti" that translates literally "only four cats were there").
I suddenly pictured the Pope wishing we were back to the Middle Age, with the laws of the Inquisition still in force, illiterate people buying Vatican's absurdities and secret prisons used to torture who didn't want to confess their deliberate disobedience to the will of God.
But no, we are in 2009, in Italy, a country that, Vatican's presence notwithstanding, is struggling to be considered a civilised country, so no torture for Balducci, just the dismissal from his boring task.
As it usually happens in a Clerical State, criticisms to the only legal representative of God on earth (sic!), awaken the sleeping MPs who cry out for justice, respect, fairness. I guess Balducci quickly understood he wasn't going to walk out unpunished and was relieved to learn that no torture was planned: the tv director deemed it was a fair resolution to remove him and replace him with someone who has the guts to tell that St. Peter's Square is always full of pilgrims, and if this is not enough to please God, that the Pope is tall, blonde and blue-eyed!
Alas, such absurdity, as is the papal authority, still exists and, what's worse, it has a political weight, and what's even worse is that many people still believe that the Pope believes in God and speaks for the good.
I wish I could plagiarise now, but Voltaire (1694-1778) is way too popular to pretend this perle is my creation, so I humbly bow to his genius: "For seventeen hundred years the Christian sect has done nothing but harm."
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