Neil White: Once the Pope leaves office, will he become 'fallible' again?
I HAVE to admit, I struggle with the concept of religion.
Of course, I am not wise enough to know whether there is a God (although I seriously doubt it) but it is the blind faith which surrounds religion which really troubles me.
For the past 30 years, I have learned, as a journalist to question assumptions and yet I haven't encountered a religion which isn't based on many of them.
For example, I visited the Temple on the Mount where the prophet Muhammad arrived with the angel Gabriel on a winged horse. Those last two words ended any belief I could have had in that particular story.
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Even when I was at school, I couldn't come to terms with the idea that Jesus was the son of a virgin. That would be medically impossible.
Too much religious teaching put individuals on pedestals and I am afraid that idols have a nasty habit of disappointing.
Last week, I watched a remarkable movie called Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God.
It highlights the appalling abuse which has been carried out by priests worldwide over recent decades and the unwillingness of the Vatican to do anything about it.
Of course, this has become even more relevant because of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.
According to a dogma of the Catholic church, the Pope is infallible. That means he is "preserved from the possibility of error".
I am interested to know whether Benedict suddenly became infallible at the age of 78 when he was elected to office.
Should we presume that he was a normal human being before that?
Ask any old person and they will tell you that they are probably more fallible late in their life than at any other time just because of the ravages on their memory.
Anyway, I guess if he had been perfect earlier in his life he probably wouldn't have joined the Hitler Youth, albeit reluctantly.
And I would presume that, a bit later in life, he wouldn't have made decisions to defend pervert priests.
You see, Benedict was the head of the Vatican department which investigated priests accused of sexual assault.
Indeed, he decreed that every case should be put on his desk.
And yet, instead of reporting these criminals to the police, the Vatican did everything it could to avoid any scandal.
The film, Mea Maxim Culpa shows interviews with people who have now left the church but testify to this policy.
It meant that hundreds if not thousands of children were abused by those who were given tacit approval to stay in office.
At the end of February, Benedict will leave the office of Pope – the first to resign in hundreds of years.
Will it mean he is no longer infallible?
More interestingly, will he take the opportunity to admit the wrongs of the past.
I don't have faith that he will.