|"I feel like Bette Davis in All About Eve."|
Speaking in Rochester, Minnesota on February 4, the 14th Dalai Lama had some unexpected harsh words for Pope Francis, accusing him of usurping his role as generic spiritual leader of the world.
"You know, I don't care that Pope Francis got a 73% approval rating and I got 62% in that Harris poll last year," said the Dalai Lama. "I say congratulations, quite sincerely, but we know he's got novelty going for him. I would remind people that I have been the Dalai Lama since 1940. It's a little tougher to compete with someone who just arrived in 2013."
The Dalai Lama went on to state that he received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, an honor Pope Francis has yet to receive. When asked if there was any friendly competition between the two spiritual powerhouses, the Dalai Lama said no. "I remain the generic spiritual leader of the world, a symbol of peace and enlightenment."
But he admitted feeling a little pressure from the popular pope.
"Pope Francis would obviously like to be the generic spiritual leader of the world," the Dalai Lama observed. "He's everywhere, all the time. Have you seen the videos he's putting out? Very professional. The last one doesn't even mention God once. How can we compete with Hollywood?"
Pope Francis has released two short videos that feature his voice and image along with various scenes relating to the theme.
The Dalai Lama said that popes used to "pretty much focus on Catholicism," but Pope Francis is different. "He's going after those people who like to feel vaguely spiritual without committing to anything. He talks about the environment, peace, justice, the poor, and people feel warm and happy for a moment. He doesn't spoil it by bringing up his Church."
The Dalai Lama's famous serenity seemed to be disturbed by brief anger.
"That's my role. Half of his quotes are originally mine. Ever hear, 'All major religious traditions carry basically the same message. That is love, compassion, and forgiveness?' I've been saying that since Pius XII was pope, and now, all of a sudden, it's like some new revelation. I feel like Bette Davis in All About Eve." (The 1950 drama starred Bette Davis as an aging star of the stage whose role is being threatened by ambitious understudy Anne Baxter.)
The Dalai Lama complained that Pope Francis would not meet with him, or accept a challenge to debate him on "being good and happy, or maybe world peace."