3 Problems Not Caused by Atheism

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI strongly criticized atheism in a major document released Friday, saying it had led to some of the “greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” ever known.

In his second encyclical, Benedict also critically questioned modern Christianity, saying its focus on individual salvation had ignored Jesus’ message that true Christian hope involves salvation for all.

The document, titled “Saved by Hope,” is a deeply theological exploration of Christian hope: that in the suffering and misery of daily life, Christianity provides the faithful with a “journey of hope” to the Kingdom of God.

“We must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world is not in our power,” Benedict wrote. “Only God is able to do this.”

In the 76-page document, Benedict elaborated on how the Christian understanding of hope had changed in the modern age, when man sought to relieve the suffering and injustice in the world. Benedict points to two historical upheavals: the French Revolution and the proletarian revolution instigated by Karl Marx.

Benedict sharply criticizes Marx and the 19th and 20th century atheism spawned by his revolution, although he acknowledges that both were responding to the deep injustices of the time.

“A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God,” he wrote. But he said the idea that mankind can do what God cannot by creating a new salvation on Earth was “both presumptuous and intrinsically false.”

“It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice,” he wrote. “A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope.”

Problem #1:

Hundreds of Sudanese Muslims, waving green Islamic flags, took to the streets of Khartoum on Friday demanding death for the British teacher convicted of insulting Islam after her class named a teddy bear Mohammad.

“No one lives who insults the Prophet,” the protesters chanted, a day after school teacher Gillian Gibbons, 54, was sentenced to 15 days in jail and deportation from Sudan.

In a bid to secure her early release, Lord Ahmed, a Muslim peer from Britain’s ruling Labour party in the House of Lords upper house, left London on Friday.

He was accompanied by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, from the opposition Conservative Party. They were invited to Khartoum by the Sudanese government.

At least 1,000 protesters shook their fists or waved banners or ceremonial swords and chanted religious and nationalist slogans after leaving Muslim Friday prayers. Banners called for “punishment” for Ms. Gibbons, and some protesters burned newspapers that contained pictures of the teacher. Several hundred protesters made a brief stop at the closed but heavily guarded Unity High School, where Ms. Gibbons worked, but did not attempt to go inside. The school was guarded by five truckloads of police in riot gear.

Problem #2:

A 14-year-old boy who refused blood transfusions in his fight against leukemia — based on religious beliefs — died Wednesday night in Seattle, hours after a Skagit County judge affirmed his right to reject the treatment.

Dennis Lindberg, of Mount Vernon, died around 6 p.m. at Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center in Seattle, according to KING-5 television. As a Jehovah’s Witness, Lindberg objected to receiving blood. Doctors had said he needed it to survive his cancer treatment.

In court Wednesday, Superior Court Judge John Meyer said that Lindberg, though in the eighth grade, was old enough to know that refusing blood transfusions might amount to a “death sentence,” and that he had the right to make that decision.

Problem #3:

A new coloring book being distributed by the Archdiocese of New York uses a cartoon guardian angel to warn kids against predators in what is apparently the first such effort by a Roman Catholic diocese in the United States.

But the head of an advocacy group for victims of abuse by priests said the book should say explicitly that trusted adults _ including priests _ may be the abusers.

In the coloring book, the perky guardian angel tells children not to keep secrets from their parents, not to meet anyone from an Internet chat room and to allow only “certain people” like a doctor or parent to see “where your bathing suit would be.”

In a comic book version for older kids, a teenager turns to St. Michael the Archangel for strength to report that two schoolmates are being sexually abused.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said the books are new this fall and have been distributed to about 300 schools and 400 religious education programs to use as a resource.

“It’s to help young people to know situations they should not get into,” he said. “How to be safe _ but to try to do it in an age-appropriate and sensitive way.”

Zwilling said the coloring book grew out of the archdiocese’s “safe environment” training program for adults such as coaches and parent volunteers who interact with children.

Leave a Reply