It’s bad enough that George Bush acts like he has a monopoly on the truth. Now Pope Benedict XVI is acting that way, too.

In his latest papal pronouncement, Benedict asserts that the Roman Catholic Church is the one and only true church — and that all other faiths suffer from serious “defects.”

In other words, to billions of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Quakers, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Buddhists, and other believers, the Pope’s message is: “Suck it up. You’re all losers. You’ll never get to Heaven.”

It’s an assertion first made by the Pope in 2000, when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, and one that created a serious backlash among leaders of other faiths. After all, it’s hard to be taken seriously as an ecumenical partner when you start out by insisting that God has anointed you, and only you, as the sole path to salvation. 

As a Catholic, I consider this statement by Benedict XVI to fall in the category of “papal bull.” Surely God is not so narrow-minded. As long as you’re traveling down God’s highway and leading a virtuous life, God doesn’t care whether you’re driving a Ford, Chevrolet, Lexus or Fiat. Any make will get you to the same destination.

But the Pope’s message is also very dangerous. After all, that message — “We have the corner on morality and, unless you agree with us, you are an infidel” — is the same message we hear from the followers of Osama bin Laden.

We can’t overcome the wrongs of Islamic fundamentalism by replacing it with Catholic fundamentalism.