With Pope Benedict's visit to the UK currently in the news, I thought I'd offer a human-evolutionary, i.e. Darwinian, view of what he and the Catholic church stand for, which is, to cut a long story short, POWER.
Back in the Middle Ages, while the aristocracy sought advantage for themselves through the power of the sword, the clergy, i.e. Catholic church, did so through the power of the word (of God) and the moral authority that went with it.
The two, aristocracy and clergy, complemented each other nicely and cooperated in creating the state, i.e. the social, political and economic power structures by means of which they were able to control and exploit their social and human environment.
Now, if you want to exert moral authority over your fellow humans, man having evolved emotionally and behaviourally as a tribal animal, you have to convince them that you belong to the same TRIBE. This was achieved, at one level, by equating state and nation, and, at an other level, by declaring everyone to be a “child of God”, subject to the authority of his universal Church.
The Pope and his church insist that they are motivated by their love for God, Truth and humanity – but they would do, wouldn't they . . . They cannot admit, even to themselves, that they are motivated, primarily, by the desire for POWER, since that would expose the lie on which their authority, power and own self-image are based, and their social status would tumble to the ground. They would no longer be able to exploit the social environment to their own advantage. Added to which, the loss of their own self-image would probably destroy them psychologically, thus one shouldn't be too harsh on them. We need to understand their blindness and the falseness of their claims to wisdom and authority.
Why is POWER (in its multifarious forms of money, social and professional status, the moral high ground, etc) man's primary motivation? Because it is what our primordial Darwinian drive for survival and reproductive success has been perverted and reduced to in the artificial environment of human society. Understandably, when one considers that such power has the potential to greatly enhance an individual's chances of survival and reproductive success.
The bigger the LIE the more difficult it is to recognise and face up to, and there are no bigger lies than those on which the British state and the Catholic church, for example, are based.