… get out of the papal palace! Yes folks, Pope Benedict XVI is not happy. The source of his unhappiness? The backlash against him after he presumed to know more about epidemiology than actual credentialed epidemiologists. As I blogged previously, the Vatican is famously thin-skinned, so there’s no surprise. Here’s the AP report, via the Hartford Courant:

The Vatican says some negative reactions to the pope’s comments about condoms and AIDS during a trip to Africa were an “unprecedented” attempt to intimidate him.

Pope Benedict XVI said last month that condoms weren’t the answer to Africa’s AIDS epidemic and could make the problem worse. …

The Vatican said the pope’s comments were taken out of context and had unleashed an “unprecedented media campaign.” It says they were “used by some groups with a clear intent to intimidate, as if to dissuade the Pope from expressing himself.”

Actually I agree that — on matters that are not his to decide — the Pope should, in fact, not “express himself.” As an important, globally-known public figure, the Pope has a responsibility to measure his words and not just shoot off his mouth whenever he feels like it, on topics in which he has zero expertise. As Stan Lee has famously said (reflecting the words of FDR), “With great power comes great responsibility.” For better or worse, the Pope’s words carry great power. It is not wrong to expect of him — especially since he presumes to be the standard-bearer for morality in the occidental world — that he take care in how he exercises that power.

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