Why does the world hate the pope?

Aldo Maria Valli, a Vatican expert for the Italian television network RAI, has recently published a book titled, The Truth About the Pope: Why He Is Attacked, Why He Must Be Listened To. In it, he poses the question: “Why is the present Pope the absolutely most attacked public figure and why are his words the object of strong manipulation?”

Valli offers his theory:

“Because at the heart of his teaching there is a battle against relativism, a battle fought with calm and gentle tones, and which focuses on the problem of present-day humanity.”

“It’s a convergence of interests and people who do not want others to pose to themselves the problem of truth,” he added. If they did, the author noted, they couldn’t be as easily manipulated. . . .

“[T]he attacks are due to the fact that the Pope poses several questions, in which the problem of truth is absolutely central, because it is a genuine battle against relativism.”

This happens “because what permeates our present culture and mentality is [the belief] that truth doesn’t exist,” the author explained.

He noted, “With great simplicity our Pope indicates that truth exists and that if it isn’t sought it’s not possible to be fully men, that man has this longing and that if this desire is denied part of him is amputated.”

Therefore, “if this underlying problem isn’t enunciated his pontificate cannot be understood,” the journalist asserted.

This all strikes me as true — though I’m always bemused that Benedict is singled out for this kind of attack, when his (much-beloved) predecessor would have agreed with every word of Benedict’s “battle against relativism.” There must be an element of popular perception at work, too: John Paul II was always seen as a warm ad gentle man, whereas Benedict was so long portrayed as the “enforcer of the Faith” in his role at the CDF — even if he is every bit as kindhearted as JPII.

What do you think contributes to the public’s distrust and dislike of Benedict — over and above the dislike some have for the institutional Church in general? Why this particular pope?

[H/t Catholic Herald]

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Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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