When the last Pope died, my wife's uncle told me that he was a "great man." I just kinda nodded my head.
Bill O'Reilly, while commenting on Bill Maher's criticisms of The Pope, said that Pope Benedict XVI deserved respect.
I mean, I suppose that I respect him for the fact that he's a fellow human being, but that's about as far as I can go with it. Here's a guy who perpetuates the idea that a human being can be infallible. He claims to be the emissary of an all-knowing, all-powerful being who cares more about people using birth control than he does about them getting AIDS.
Sure, he says some good stuff. He's against this war in Iraq. I'm with him on that. Then again, I'm sure that Louis Farrakhan says some stuff that I agree with, but I'm not exactly going to give THAT guy my respect either.
So, no, sorry, I don't respect him. I don't respect what he does and I don't respect what he stands for. He deserves the same rights as any other human being, but the line ends there for me. I take everything that he says the same way I'd take it from anybody else. If he says something that I find insults my intelligence, then I'm not going to feel bad about speaking out on it just because others view him as being divine.
Same goes for that Dalai Lama. His opinions don't carry any more weight with me just because he's supposedly the reincarnation of some Buddhist master. (To be fair, I like more of what he has to say, but his being "holy" has nothing to do with it.)
I don't believe in giving human beings elevated status based solely on what certain people believe about them. If I were to go around saying that I was a reincarnated King Arthur, and I got a bunch of people to believe me, would that give my opinions on things any more weight? I would hope not.
Tom Jones, however, has my undying respect. The man can do no wrong.