It turns out the Pope is totally ignorant of history, culture and religions other than Christianity. The other alternative is that he is a big liar.
This is via Americablog:
In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the end of a visit to Brazil, the Pope said the Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
They had welcomed the arrival of European priests at the time of the conquest as they were "silently longing" for Christianity, he said.
Millions of tribal Indians are believed to have died as a result of European colonization backed by the Church since Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, through slaughter, disease or enslavement.
Uh, huh. “Longing for Christianity”.... And they even knew that Christianity existed prior to the arrival of the Europeans, how again? I don’t know if I have ever seen such an outlandishly asinine and profoundly ignorant statement by someone of such a power and influence. And yes, that includes George Bush.
I am continually amazed about the conceit of true believers of any ilk. They cannot even begin to imagine that someone else might have a valid opinion that is different from their own. I suppose that is to be expected, given human nature. No one is walking around saying “Well, I am totally convinced that what I believe is 100% absolute truth, but I sure wish someone would come along and convince me I am wrong and force me to believe something else.” Every single one of us is absolutely convinced that we know that we are correct in whatever we believe. That is the basic example of a truism. A equals A. If we weren’t convinced that we knew “the truth”, then we would go find something that we believe does represent “the truth”. The human mind does not like a vacuum like that. We need some sort of stable platform upon which we can form the basis of “self”. However, the unfortunate corollary of this is that we cannot believe that anyone who doesn’t believe the same things we do holds a valid viewpoint. “I am right, you are wrong. End of story.” What makes this tendency even worse in today’s society is that we now have very little social constraints upon trying to impose our beliefs on everyone else. Fundamentalist Christians are now the worse offenders of the bunch.
Getting back to the Pope… How can a person of his learning and background make such a stupid statement that is so obviously 180 degrees out of phase with the historical truth? This is on the same level as those who would deny that the Holocaust occurred. All statements like that accomplish by persons in a position of power and influence is that they end up looking like morons. What I can’t figure out is if he really believes that, or if he just thinks (like so many in America do these days) if he says something often enough and with authority that somehow the actual truth shall somehow be altered and people will now believe whatever he says. The former is a bit scary, but the latter is truly Orwellian. “Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.”
Then again, maybe he is just getting a bit senile?