There is a longstanding paradox in many religious traditions that continues unchecked: the plight against idolatry, and the raising up of humans to idolatrous heights. Of course, the distance between religious philosophy and its application in everyday life is often vast, which is how men and women can claim idols to be divinely dangerous and strive to be one every step of the way.
Perhaps Islam is the one major tradition that has rallied tirelessly against idolizing its prophet (the paradox being that followers often idolize the very idea of Muhammad, which in many ways translates to the same problem). Idolatry is prohibited so that the follower does not confuse the stone for the substance, to mistake the figure on the cross for the actual man, or the soft-eyed sage for the Buddha himself. The general idea being that the savior is not trapped in a material object, but remains boundless, forever embodying the divinity they are said to represent.
So instead of attempting to embody the spirit of the faith yourself, you are told to worship this or that person who supposedly did so, disregarding their messages to find the truth for yourself. This is the righteous fiat religious leaders use to snake themselves into positions of authority, to jump upon the nearest podium in hopes of being recognized as the conduit for their deity to speak through. Whether or not any words pass between the two is secondary to whether or not they make you believe they are in such communion.
And so goes the history of organized religion, which is how the current pope-in-residence remains silent about accusations dating to when he was more humbly known as Cardinal Ratzinger, using Rome's diplomatic immunity as a shield from the law. Leave it to Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the totems of the British Atheist movement, to once again point out common sense, noting that the man's political sidestep is not recognized by the UN; thus Ratzinger should be tried for signing off on a priest's sexual abuse case two-and-a-half decades ago. If Roman Polanski can be arrested on sexual abuse charges after 32 years of hiding, so can the Pope, holy or not.
But it's the man's supposed holiness that keeps him out of the courts, and the public's idolization of him that lifts him above the human race. That any man should be able to get away with a crime without paying the price is a travesty, especially in a day and age when democracy is touted as the balm to the world's problems. If only democracy was not so intimately tied to capitalism, creating the social/political stepladder that claims the CEO to be the end-all, his minions below dependent like child to nipple. This is bad enough in business, but worse in religion. Their holiness comes at the price of making you believe you can't talk to the same agencies they can.
Of course, those agencies have nothing to do with whatever god or gods they happen to be advertising. These instead rely on a number of archaic laws and reams of paperwork written in languages translated out of the public eye, which means the translation will best serve their interests. Eventually it will be touted as a divine oversight, an unfortunate but dismissible mistake that happened so long ago that it no longer makes sense to charge anyone. More importantly, after numerous consultations with the bible, the Pope will be ensured in his secret chamber that he will be forgiven in the eyes of this or that lord.
If only these men would put down the bible and pick up a biology book, they would understand that forcing any man into celibacy as a theological mandate for righteousness is physically demeaning and emotionally damaging. Retention of semen is horrible for the prostate, and you cannot possibly quiet desire by pretending it does not exist. Unconscious urges manifest in strange ways, and no, this does not hint at same-sex relations. Consensual love between two human beings of any sex is a beautiful thing, but pretending to be a religious and therefore community leader while you're fondling altar boys who are too young and too infatuated with your idolatrous stature is not. Let's remove this whole "God will serve justice" nonsense out of the picture, for that's simply a way of avoiding the responsibility you have to the rest of humankind. If you want to be a leader, then lead. Don't shirk under the laws the rest of us are bound to uphold.
When dropped from small heights, stone idols are treacherously broken. So much more so the human ones.
Follow Derek Beres on Twitter: www.twitter.com/derekberes