But I was struck by something the Pope said today, after embracing the statue of St. James the Greater in Compostela de Santiago, and meeting with the Prince and Princess of Asturias.
"Truth and freedom are closely and necessarily related", he added.
"Honestly seeking and aspiring to truth is the condition of authentic freedom. One cannot live without the other. The Church, which desires to serve unreservedly the human person and his dignity, stands at the service of both truth and freedom. She cannot renounce either, because what is at stake is man himself, because she is moved by love for man, 'the only creature on earth which God has wanted for its own sake', and because without this aspiration for truth, justice and freedom, man would lose his very self.There have been many creatures on Earth, all of them creations of the very God which Pope Benedict worships. Estimates of the number of species that have ever existed on Earth--plants, animals, multicellular organisms of all kinds--range from 750 million to 7.5 billion individual species.
That homo sapiens sapiens ("Man") is unique among God's creatures in the sense that Benedict claims--that he alone has God wanted for his own sake!--this claim I find to be extravagantly illogical given the facts of life on Earth as we know them.
Such homocentrism is as wrong as the geocentrism that was spectacularly deposed in that bit of unpleasantry involving Galileo Galilei.
The human race is NOT the center of the Biological Universe, nor in any real sense, apart from it. We are part of a genetic structure that stretches from the very earliest time that life existed on the planet. But we are relatively young for an Earthly species, having emerged in our present form less than 250,000 years ago (if not less). Life on earth, of which we are genetic inheritors, is however thought to be at least 2 billion years old.
The suggestion that God is indifferent to all other creatures--only Man does He want for its own sake!--is a bleak and pitiful piece of Vain Glory when viewed against the majestic backdrop of rich and vibrant diversity that life on earth displays.
It is a claim easily reduced to absurdity when one contemplates even a few of the logical consequences of assuming the Pope's claim to be valid and true.
It would mean for example, that for almost the entire 2 billion year history of life on earth, up until the emergence of homo sapiens a few hundred thousand years ago, Benedict's God has been engaged in nothing but genetic experimentation in which he has created millions upon millions of unique life forms; allowed 99.998% percent of those species to go extinct; and thereby slaughtered, mindlessly for their own sake! zillions of individual living creatures from bacteria to trilobytes to dinosaurs to sabertooth tigers and wooly mammoths which belonged to those now vanished species of creatures.
So what was God doing all those long, bloody aeons if he didn't care about these creations "for their own sake"? Was He maybe practicing to make the ultimate creature--the Catholic Human Being?
Only Man does God want for its own sake! Pope Benedict told the world today from Santiago de Compostela. But if the pinnacle of human perfection is attained only by the grace of God, (the one that Benedict worships) and within the folds of His Holy Church (the one that Benedict heads!), surely this statement is not only scientifically illogical, it is theologically self-serving.
This is the kind of exceptionalism that buttressed Hitler's Third Reich, his racist pogroms against the Jews and is dangerous shyte in my opinion.
Maybe Papa Ratzinger needs a refresher reprogramming course from when he was a member of the Hitler Youth!