Eminent Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that as Catholics and Hindus and others had freedom of their belief systems and were respected for their respective choices, and so should be the atheists. A religious leader of Pope's stature should have been more inclusive.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that although Pope frequently talked about right to religious freedom, cooperation of the human family, truly universal human community, etc., but in this speech, he apparently condemned the beliefs of a considerable chunk of world population called atheists. Who were we as human beings to judge publicly that other humans' beliefs different than us were wrong?
Rajan Zed stressed that Pope should get rid of his obsession against atheism and show some maturity and inclusiveness. Frankly, it was the fault of us religious leaders (which included Pope also) and organizations that atheism was growing in the world. We (including Pope) needed to do a better job to make religion more vibrant, attractive and engaging to keep people in God's fold.
In his Edinburgh speech, Pope talked about Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society. He further reportedly said: As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a reductive vision of the person and his destiny.
In his encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth) issued in Rome last year, Pope was also highly critical of atheists and humanists: "...ideological rejection of God and an atheism of indifference, oblivious to the Creator and at risk of becoming equally oblivious to human values, constitute some of the chief obstacles to development today. A humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism." This encyclical letter is considered the highest form of papal teaching.
Atheism is disbelief in the existence of God and atheists argue that there is little or no real evidence for the existence of God. Pope Benedict heads the Roman Catholic Church, which is the largest of the Christian denominations. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal. (ANI)