Monday, April 11, 2005

The Pope and Stalin 2

Updating my previous post. Jogo's reply to Bob's comments are at http://brockley.blogspot.com/2005/04/pope-and-stalin.html#comments.

Some other comments

Andrew Sullivan writes:
Last night on Hardball, I said what I think needs to be said. Under John Paul II (and his predecessors), the Roman Catholic church presided over the rape and molestation of thousands of children and teenagers. Under John Paul II, the church at first did all it could to protect its own and to impugn and threaten the victims of this abuse. Rome never acknowledged, let alone take responsibility for, the scale of the moral betrayal. I was staggered to see Cardinal Bernard Law holding press conferences in Rome this week, and appearing on television next to the man who announced the Pope's death. But that was the central reaction of the late Pope to this scandal: he sided with the perpetrators, because they were integral to his maintenance of power.

When you hear about this Pope's compassion, his concern for the victims of society, his love of children, it's important to recall that when it came to walking the walk in his own life and with his own responsibility, he walked away. He all but ignored his church's violation of the most basic morality - that you don't use the prestige of the church to rape innocent children. Here was a man who lectured American married couples that they could not take the pill, who told committed gay couples that they were part of an "ideology of evil," but acquiesced and covered up the rape of minors. When truth met power, John Paul II chose truth. When truth met his power, John Paul II defended his own prerogatives at the expense of the innocent. Many have forgotten. That's not an option for the victims of this clerical criminality. [beliefnet: Weblog of Andrew Sullivan, via Body and Soul: The fundie pope and the whining bishops.]

Theologian Hans Kung writes:
Outwardly Pope John Paul II, who has been actively involved in battling war and suppression, is a beacon of hope for those who long for freedom. Internally, however, his anti-reformist tenure has plunged the Roman Catholic church into an epochal credibility crisis. [Der Speigel: Crisis in the Catholic Church:]
Johan Hari writes:
In time, the world will see that John Paul II claimed just as many victims as his now-notorious predecessor. They will see his contemporary defenders to be as base as those who fed the myth of a holy and benign Pius. There were three scandals in John Paul II's papacy, and the stench from them far outweighs the small compensations of his opposition to capital punishment, or his support for Solidarity and fair trade.

The first was his approach to South America, where he showed himself to be soft on fascism. He described Chile's fascist dictator General Augusto Pinochet and his wife as 'an exemplary Christian couple', despite knowing they had mounted an anti-democratic coup and murdered tens of thousands of socialists and democrats. When the dictator was finally about to be brought to justice for his crimes against humanity after being intercepted here in Britain, the Pope called for his release. His reasoning? He offered the realpolitik rationale that Pinochet's crimes were committed when he was head of state and he therefore enjoyed sovereign immunity.

He also cut a deal with the Reagan administration where he pledged to support tacitly their attempt to topple the democratically elected Sandinista government with armed fascist guerillas, according to Bob Woodward's authoritative biography. John Paul II never saw the difference between the poisonous authoritarian socialism practised by the Soviet Union and the democratic, decent socialism promoted by the Sandinistas and Salvador Allende; to him, they were equally atheist and had to be destroyed. The notion - promoted by Catholic apologists like Cristina Odone and Mary Kenny over the past week - that he was a one-man clerical Amnesty International dedicated to human rights across the world looks like a cruel joke after this knowledge.

Indeed, even the Pope's much-feted opposition to Soviet tyranny was based primarily on this hatred of atheism rather than any love of democracy. In his recent book, Memory and Identity, the Pope railed against all existing democracies, saying the West is sunk in 'nihilism' and that 'democratic parliaments are the carriers'. This is not the gospel of a champion of democracy - one of the many fatuous garlands tossed onto his coffin. [Johann Hari: History will judge the Pope far more harshly than the adoring crowds in Rome]
Keywords: Pope Benedict, Pope John Paul, Cardinal Ratzinger


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