Pope vs. Dalai Lama

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Difference between Pope and Dalai Lama

The Pope is considered to be the leader of the Catholic Church because he is the Bishop of Rome. The word pope actually means "Father" in Latin. The Pope also is the head state for the Vatican City State with is a city state that is completely within the city of Rome. At this point in history, popes do not have political power, and focus on religious matters.

The Dalai Lama is the leader of the Buddhist religion and is believed to be a reborn tulku, which is an expression of compassion. Each Dalai Lama is considered to be the latest reincarnation of the same identity.


The title of Pope has existed since the Patriarch of Alexandria, Pope Heracleus. Catholics believe the Pope to be the successor of Saint Peter, whom Jesus named as the shepherd of the Catholic Church. According to church beliefs, the Catholic Church is the "one true church".

The first Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso was titled in 1578 by Altan Khan, a Mongol leader. Dispute has arisen as to whether or not it was intended to title Sonam as Dalai Lama as Altan was probably trying only to translate Sonam's name.


The Pope gained authority in the Catholic Church based upon the First Vatican Council in 1870. Several cannons were established that basically all state that if a person does not believe in Jesus Christ or his powers and authority, they are anathema (solemnly cursed).

The Buddhists believe that when the current Dalai Lama dies, and his soul is reincarnated. High Lamas as well as the Tibetan government are responsible for finding the next Dalai Lama. It can take years to figure out who the next Dalai Lama is. The search is typically only in Tibet, but once they found one in Mongolia.

Politics and Religion Mix

Pope Benedict XVI was threatened with arrest and prosecution by a group of atheists in Britain, in 2010. They claimed that the Pope was guilty of many offences dating back many years and including sex abuse cases. While it was dismissed as a silly idea, many people around the world agreed.

The Dalai Lama came under attack in 1998 when it was discovered that the United States government was sending the Dalai Lama almost 2 million dollars per year through the Central Intelligence Agency. The Chinese government claims the Dalai Lama has ties to India that are inappropriate as he has claimed he is a son of India. This proclamation, according to the Chinese means he should not be permitted to represent people from Tibet.


While the Pope might be recognized by the Catholic Church and some governments and religions, some religions outright denounce the Pope as an authority of anything. Some actually claim he is the Antichrist. The Pope enjoys diplomatic immunity in most countries.

In 2007, the Chinese government decided that all high monks are to be approved by the Chinese government, including the Dalai Lama.

The 14th Dalai Lama says that government control means nothing as the selection is based upon tradition. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 which further enhanced the image of the Dalai Lama and Buddhism.


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