Pope Francis has been a grave disappointment to many Christians, not just Catholics. He appears to be as steeped in “Merchant of Death” conspiracy theory as he is in Christian theology.
At a traditional pre-Easter ritual, the Pope washed the feet of refuges, including a Catholic woman, Muslims, and a Hindu man. The ritual had long been limited to practising Catholic men, almost exclusively, priests.
Many Catholics are unhappy with this severe break in tradition.
Of greater interest is that the Pope blames the terrorist attack in Brussels on arms manufacturers and arms traffickers.
“Three days ago, there was a gesture of war, of destruction, in a city of Europe by people who don’t want to live in peace,” he said. “Behind that gesture there were arms manufacturers, arms traffickers, who want blood, not peace, who want war, not brotherhood,” he said.
In a reference to the Brussels attackers, Francis condemned “those poor creatures who buy weapons in order to destroy brotherhood,” comparing them to Judas Iscariot, the apostle who the Bible says betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
This is not the first time that this Pope has inappropriately condemned weapons manufacturers.
This is not Christian theology. It is “Merchants of Death” conspiracy theory. This theory claims that it is arms manufacturers who push for and cause wars. It minimizes conflicts between nations and people who have ideological and religious differences, or who are competing for limited resources such as territory, food, raw materials, or for dominance.
The theory, like many conspiracy theories, is popular among people who want someone to blame for wars, and an “easy fix” to stop wars. Movies have been made with this theme.
The theory has long been discredited. War is as old has humanity, as old as social insects. It existed long before there were weapons manufacturers and has been waged by numerous states where the manufacture of weapons of war was done only by the state. For Pope Francis to make this statement shows a profound and deep misunderstanding of the causes of war, and of human nature.
The weapons used in the Brussels attack were not manufactured by an industrial concern. They were homemade from common household chemicals.
The change in the foot washing ritual confirms a profound misunderstanding of human nature. To Muslims, it is a symbol of submission. Fundamental Muslims will interpret this as a sign that the attack in Brussels was a tremendous success. It will embolden them and lead to more attacks. After all, because of the attack, they will believe, the Pope knelt down at the feet of Muslims, in an act of submission!
When the Pope exhibits such a deep misunderstanding of human nature, of human organization, of global realities and of Christian doctrine, it is a grave cause for concern.
If Popes in the days of the Crusades had urged their followers to welcome Muslim invaders, Christian Europe would never have survived and thrived. There would not have been a reformation, the renaissance, or the scientific revolution. Christians were conquered and enslaved in the Middle east, eastern Europe, North Africa and Spain. In those areas Muslim invaders conquered vast areas controlled by Christians. They destroyed the Christian Byzantine empire.
Science in Muslim lands never advanced beyond that of the middle ages, in spite of Muslim access to Greek manuscripts, Indian mathematics, Chinese printing blocks, and gunpowder technology, all of which travelled through Muslim controlled lands before they reached Christendom.
Fortunately, wiser Popes in the western half of Christendom recognized the legitimacy of self defense and helped expound the doctrine of “Just War”. It is a long standing and well developed Catholic doctrine. The comments of Pope Francis seem to be inconsistent with “Just War” doctrine.
How can there be a “Just War” if the manufacture of weapons is illegitimate?
How can the Pope maintain an armed guard of Swiss mercenaries to defend the Vatican?
Will the next proclamation of Pope Francis be that he is throwing wide the gates of the Vatican to refuges, and disbanding the Swiss guard?
I hope, and pray, that this will not happen.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and a link to Gun Watch are included.