I recently noticed a magazine at the public library called Utne which had a title on the cover "The New Extremists: Understanding and Combating Fanatics." On the cover were caricatures of eight people, and at the top and the largest caricature was of Ratz., better known as the pope. The others in the Rogues' Gallery were Iran's Ahmadinejad, Bill O' Reilly of Fox TV, a man whom I didn't recognize, North Korea's Kim Jong Il, an Orthodox rabbi, Libya's Qaddafi, and Sarah Palin.
The author of the article Amos Oz made some fine points:
"...the seed of fanaticism always lies in uncompromising self-righteousness."
"Conformity and uniformity, the urge to belong and the desire to make everyone else belong, may be the most widespread if not the most dangerous forms of fanaticism."
"A fanatic wants to save your soul; he wants to redeem your; he want to liberate you from sin, from error, from your faith or from faithlessness..."
"One way or another the fanatic is more interested in you than in himself for the simple reason that the fanatic has very little self or no self at all."
The editor of the magazine David Schimke had some interesting observations on this subject in his forward:
"Fanatics have mastered the art of disguise. Like altruistic mothers, they profess, and in many cases believe, to be fighting for our best interests.....They lack self awareness; their survival depends on whether or not we allow them to prey on our fears."
The above comments fit p. benedict to a T.