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A (personal) commentary on the funeral of the Pope

Given the lack of objectivity and the generally maudlin sentimentality surrounding commentaries in the media surrounding the death of this Pope (with a few exceptions here and there) I decided that perhaps I would write a brief commentary on this funeral myself, having watched the whole extended affair, because I need an antidote.
I do not have cable, because I don't watch television, and last night all three of our over the air channels carried live coverage of the funeral of the Pope, so you had a choice of three different feeds. One feed, on the channel that typically just pipes up an American feed, usually from Fox, featured coverage of the funeral, with no commentary that I heard, the idea being I would suppose that it was thus supposed to be just like being there, and if you were there, you would not have any talking heads narrating the funeral. That feed seemed quite dignified, and really atypical for media coverage of big events. I switched over to our national public broadcaster, the CBC, where I stayed for the rest of the evening, and was subjected to several hours of commentary on the funeral, much as you would get commentary on a golf tournament, or something like that, from one of our most famous die hard catholic conservative broadcasters who was brought on board by the CBC to provide the 'color commentary' for the Pope's funeral.

Somehow getting the real die hard catholic conservative point of view concerning that funeral, and that pope, seemed strangely appropriate, so I resisted the urge to change channels and instead decided to soak it all in. It was unbearable, to tell the truth, and it was even more unbearable thinking about how damned embarrassing it was for two of our best known Canadian anchors to be forced to participate in a three hour long attempt to spin doctor the pope, Catholicism in general, and just hopefully get everyone to convert over to conservative Roman Catholicism, as well they should, especially at a time like this when the Pope is dead, thus making it an opportune time to convert more Catholics, or so it would seem.

Yes, my review of the coverage of the Pope's funeral on the CBC is that it was just unbearable, but however, looking on the brighter side of things, it was probably greatly enjoyed by that small fraction of the Roman Catholic community who rather than having a problem with that Pope, thought that finally the church was returning to the Middle Ages like it should, and thus had a problem with other Catholics instead of having a problem with that Pope which is the case for the majority of Catholics around here.

You would have had a hard time gleaning that fact from that heavily biased Pope coverage, though, where as I recall, on one particular occasion we were told that when that Pope came into office, many people were unsure whether or not that was a good idea, but now that it is the Pope's funeral, it suddenly becomes crystal clear that this Pope was not only a very good idea, indeed he was a giant, towering over history, a true giant among men, and truly now it has become obvious that far from being a questionable idea that this Pope was in fact revealed to all people everywhere as a great Gift from God. Normally it takes the Vatican about one hundred years to make a Saint, although that rule seems to have relaxed quite a bit by this last Pope, who was in such a big hurry to canonize every single neglected previously dead Catholic Conservative that making a saint was shortened to just taking years, although the truth be told it could have taken just a few days, except that appearances must be kept up, and so first it would mentioned that some really conservative Catholic was beautiful, and then there would be a seemly delay of a few years and then they would become Saints. Well, we were told, given how this Pope was truly a great giant among humanity, as shown by how George Bush and Clinton spent 15 minutes on their knees praying at the foot his coffin before the funeral, due to overwhelming popular demand, the Vatican is thinking of just putting aside that rule about waiting to make someone a Saint and just go right ahead as soon as possible and make this Pope a Saint, something which I am sure would bring on every single network and take up a full week or two of nonstop television coverage, due to the great upswelling of the public demanding that this Pope be made into a Saint, and right now, too, without delay. Already, all throughout the funeral crowd, the dead Pope, with the help of the Mother, the Virgin Mary, was performing miracle after miracle, as the reports of these miracles were just pouring in, fueling the unstoppable demand that the Pope be made a Saint immediately. That would not include Cardinal Ratzinger's brother who was one of the first to be wheeled up in a wheel chair to take communion after the funeral, but then Mary works in mysterious ways, and I am sure that there must have been a good reason to perform a miracle cure on somebody other than Cardinal Ratzinger's disabled brother, or so it would seem.

As I was saying, I really felt sorry for those CBC anchors were to get stuck covering the world's biggest Catholic funeral with their coanchors being the world's biggest Catholics, as you could tell from that on running color coverage of the event. As bad as that funeral was (and it was definitely the worst funeral I have ever been to) I thought what topped it off was having a die hard Catholic woman commentary express the extreme pleasure women felt everywhere when they saw the dominating role given to Cardinal Ratzinger at that funeral. Yah. Well. Not on this planet. But as we were told, Cardinal Ratzinger is one of the kindest, most tender, and most tragically misunderstood figures at the Vatican, this misunderstanding of what a nice person he is probably resulting, I would think, from the fact that nice as he is he still cannot resist the urge to pick up a pen from time to time and write something, a bad habit he has which just ruins his reputation, thus leading to him being misunderstood, although surely everyone understood what he wrote that time, which is what makes him so damned unpopular, so it is hard to see how anyone could suggest that his is 'misunderstood', unless it proves to the be the case that he just cannot get his thoughts down on paper correctly thus creating that problem he's got. You see, maybe the really die hard Catholics of the world, and those in the Vatican, are unable to understand that as nice and friendly and charming and shy and humble (and the list goes on) as Ratzinger really is in real life, he sounds like a fire breathing dragon to those who are not die hard Catholics themselves, and thus do not have that blind spot that cause some people to miss that simple fact of life. And that way he has of sounding unbearably arrogant, intolerant and dogmatic in the truest Catholic sense of the word, well that dragon sound is the source of his image problem, whatever fine qualities the man might possess as an individual.

Now speaking of Cardinal Ratzinger, you can tell that he is in the running to become the next Pope, given his Pope like standing at that funeral. He sat separate from all the other Bishops, on a kind of throne, and then they had this long line of Catholic lay people come and then kneel down before him. Ratzinger's throne was at center stage, with all the other unimportant Bishops and Cardinals seated off on the wings on either side of Ratzinger's throne. Then a line of people would come up two by two to bow down and kneel before Ratzinger's throne for some creepily weird reason. Who the hell knows what that was supposed to be about, or just how Ratzinger managed to beat out all the other cardinals and bishops of the world to get the lead starring role at the Pope's funeral (he also got to the swinging of the incense ceremony, and lots of the other rituals, when he wasn't perched on his central throne). The whole time of course we were being reminded by our catholic commentators of what a fine, loving, gentle, kind individual Ratzinger here, and how tragically misunderstood he has become, not to mention being reminded of how thrilled the women of the world were to see the central focus of the Pope's funeral being handed over to Cardinal Ratzinger, as clear a message as you can get from the Vatican these days (what it means is that even if Ratzinger cannot somehow get himself put in as Pope, it will someone jsut like Ratzinger, and when you think of it that way, well it might as well be Ratzinger, since no matter who is getting in as Pope, the Catholics will be getting Ratzinger anyways. This was the clear message of the Pope's funeral, thus making lots and lots of pro-Catholic spin doctoring on the fine qualities of Cardinal Ratzinger absolutely necessary, since, as everyone knows he is real unpopular, and as badly as he wants to be Pope, as you can tell, and as comfortable as he already is with that thing of being on a throne and bowed before and so, no one likes him, which is a real serious handicap for a Pope, even if it is true that the policies of Cardinal Ratzinger are the policies of the dead Pope, to whom Ratzinger was one of his closest aides. And so I guess the idea must be if that Pope could get away with it, well why not Cardinal Ratzinger.

One ongoing theme of the color commentary of that funeral, was the dramatic effect the Pope's funeral was already having on the young people of the world, who, being greatly moved and touched both by the way the Pope refused to retire and instead suffered like Christ, and also by the great pomp of a real Roman Catholic funeral, were even now flocking back to the church, and thus no doubt, inspired by the example of the last Pope, would finally decide to go cold turkey on the sex, thus solving that really bad problem the Catholic church has been unable to solve for the last 25 years, the problem of having a severe shortage of priests, the problem compounded by the fact that the Catholic church has lots of really old priests who like the Pope, keep in dying off, thus making the problem worse and worse all the time. Given how the Catholics of the world will be getting Ratzinger as Pope, or some clone of Ratzinger, we can tell already that this is one problem that won't be solved anytime soon. Speaking, as I am, from the trenches you might say, I can assure everyone that there is no way that there is a great upsurge in interest in celibacy or Roman Catholic hostility towards sex, quite the contrary really, a fact which is born out by those statistics showing how Catholics get abortions and divorces and premarital sex and so on, at rates marginally higher than those of the general population. IN the small town I grew up there was not enough population to support a Catholic High School, so we all went to High School together, an interesting experience, since I found myself getting cracked with a ruler by nuns, and not being Catholic myself, this sort of thing was a really new experience for me. But that's another story altogether. Let's just say that if you wanted to find out who was the Catholic, well you would have to ask, since it wasn't the case that Catholics were never to found at parties and so on, thus distinguishing themselves somehow from everyone else.

Well the Pope's funeral is over, and now the Machiavellian plotting and scheming must start, as all those really conservative Cardinals appointed by the point try to quash any opposition from those who might try to block Ratzinger's ascent to the papacy, that is, if there is any opposition left, you know, what with that last Pope having been in for close to 25 years, and having started at such a young age compared to all those dead Cardinals he was thus able to replace. By the way, speaking of diplomacy, and Machiavellian politics, just which candidate for Pope is in favor with Washington. It is a well known fact that Washington takes a great interest in getting some kind of Pope into power who will help out with 'the war against Terrorism', although given how Catholics have learned from experience over the last twenty five years with the last Pope and with Ratzinger, not to listen to the Pope and to just ignore the Vatican and treat the place as irrelevant, it remains in question just how useful getting the right Pope would prove to be with Washington. I just bring the matter up since it would appear that Washington got the 'right Pope' to help bring down the Soviet Union the last time it was time to choose a Pope, and so it makes one wonder how things will turn out this time. (Just what is Ratzinger's position on 'the New American Century'?)

Stronger 08.Apr.2005 08:48

Den Mark, Vancouver

Your stomach is stronger than mine. I could not even bear to hear radio news briefs about the "pope". The rapaciousness of that pope & his church & the government hacks & the lobotomous media is more than i can stand. So what will be the NEXT distraction from facing Truth & fixing what's broken!

zeitgeist or something else? 08.Apr.2005 09:17

sacred heathen

Interesting commentary! During the read, I was struck by the parallels between J2P2 stuffing the college of Cardinals with like-minded thinkers and the current state of the US executive, legislative and judicial branches. Are things just naturally tilting to the right as the world gets more crowded and anxious about natural resources or is there something a bit more sinister going on? Just seems a bit coordinated to me...

Hear Ye godless communists 08.Apr.2005 09:54

red suspenders

I also have a diffcult time with the amount of coverage at the expense of everything else.

However remember that this guy had a lot of influence among a very broad spectrum of people. The TV airs stuff that they think the most people will watch- it's about ratings, and money from advertisers, nothing else. We really ought to take a clue and reach out to everyone we can. Learn something about football or Nascar if football is too complicated. Go talk to the neighbors.

Remember the Pope (as with every other world leader) was against the invasion of Iraq.
Make sure you bring this up at every mention of the scene in rome and the media coverage.

Women weeping ??? 08.Apr.2005 10:29

ex-nun

Nothing is more nauseating than to see all these women weeping for a misogynist pope. It is on record that he has made very sexist remarks about women being the plight of men - while on the other side of his mouth he prayed to the Virgin Mary - his mother! Well it look official: people are now encouraged by the media whores to worship hypocrisy as a virtue?

Nothing more sickening than seeing all these old well-fed male parasites in red and purple filling our t.v. screen while the poor in Latin and South America, in Africa starve and procreate unwanted children because condoms - they are told by the Catholic Church - do not protect you from aids or from unwanted pregnancies.

All those people...so brainwashed...so uninformed...or so hypocritical too! Is it hopeless for the planet?

papal comments 08.Apr.2005 11:41

choosing death

I will be sure to pray that the Pope intercede on your behalf and plead that God bless you by removing the hate from your souls.

Question but 08.Apr.2005 12:39

No Answer

I have a question and hopefully someone in the reading audience will be able to give an answer. I have not been following the pope's rave reviews and when they do air I use that time to get a snack, use the bathroom or feed my cats. My question is why in-the-name-of-hell are all the flags at government offices/institutions flying at half-mast? Do we not still have seperation of church and state? Is this old white man really suppose to be so important in everyone's daily lives that we honor his death? I seriously do not understand.

a really big religious show 08.Apr.2005 14:39

moon

The pope....an exponent of wealth and power...I've heard the pope is one of the wealthiest men in the world. How so many people in the world accept as their spiritual leader, one who has such wealth and displays it so blatantly is a mystery.

The thoughts and words of this particular pope have ordered adulation in lofty and arbritrary dictums to followers that daily, must deal with the real world while he was cosseted and pampered.

The Catholic church itself is responsible for creating a religious structure that would cultivate and promote sexual abusers in the form of priests and then harbor them after the perpetrators repeatedly victimized vulnerable people.

The real significance of the catholic church and it's papal heirarchy is a common one recognized by the Medici family, one member of which schemed and conspired to become pope himself for benefits the position offered. The Medici family...considered by some to represent the origins of modern day mafia.

Yes, many will genuflect and show deference out of common sense corresponding with respect for the consequences of not doing so for this head of the world's largest power network.

the pope was a mass murderer 08.Apr.2005 17:28

hothead

I hold JP2 responsible for the deaths
of every person who was dumb enough to believe
his lies that condoms are sinful
(why should ignorance be capital punishment?)
and
don't prevent AIDS and also all
those good
catholic
women
who died bringing one more child onto this
standingroomonly planet
and also for the deaths of all
those
good
catholic women who died at the hands
of their
good
catholic
abusive partners because they were
like a dog
told to Stay.

Ad Nauseum Ad Mortem Popeperposterous 08.Apr.2005 17:35

Enoughalreadi

Such a sad commentary on hoards of humanity's sheeplike stupor. Take heart fellow travellers. Two excellent articles on <www.counterpunch.org> One by John Connolly "The Pope Who Revived the Office of the Inquisition"...now there's a jolly whollop by the nethanderal to women worldwide, and one by Vincete Navarro "Opus Dei and John Paul II" As far as I can tell Opus Dei is like Bohemian Grove Rituals, where the old boys do degrading things to one another in the name of his holiness. Ugh! What is with these guys??? Hey, let's go circumcise some infants, so they'll be fucked up just like us. Got ya boss, where's the hammer? Oh to be a cathoholic again! Give me guilt, give me CONTROL OF THE MASSES. Just think, even if you got ride of the infrastructure of the vatican, you've got to deal with 2 millenium of brain washed zombies. Now that's a problem.

maybe a surprise 08.Apr.2005 19:09

mom

maybe this is a surprise. There are Catholics who read this site. They are participants at anti war rallies, support the environment and generally are politically in the same place as many of those who post here --- or you see, they wouldn't read this site at all.
Now if those who post with such anti Catholic sentiments or who write such misinformed statements as "the pope was a wealthy man" were to write the same or similar comments about blacks, jews, gays or moslems for example --- all hell would break loose on this site or at least the comments would be immediately composted.
Just for the record, the pope owned nothing. he was the son of poor people and did not have an inheritance. The pope does not own the vatican or any of the vestments he wore or anything that he used while pope. It is kind of like the preseident and the white house except that americans seem to relish electing filthy rich men who have nothing in common with anyone but others who are also filthy rich men. The pope was popular in the third world because he understood the poor.
It is a mystery to me why people who had no interest in the pope or catholicism or christianity stayed up to watch the funeral --- only to write vitriolic nonsense columns. I am not sure if those who did so were any less hypocritical than gw bush himself. his obnoxious display of praying at the casket of the pope was really crass.
The best commentary by the way on the whole event was made by Fidel Castro. Look for it.
of course, I am catholic. I don't believe everything the pope did --- but I know I don't have to in order to be catholic --- something that some folks miss. If you think all catholics adhere to the no birth control no condom rule than you really are living in la la land.
I do think he was right on about capitalism, war, third world debt and the poor. He was however an 84 year old man --- not too many men of his generation have been able to shift their thinking about women, sex and other such "domestic" issues. Look at the old men in congress or on the supreme court --- unlike the pope those old guys have power to force their will on others. And they do. gw is much scarier to me than the pope could ever be.

He could have gone to Iraq to impede the invasion 08.Apr.2005 19:37

Ruth Atheist

Before US invaded and the Pope criticized the idea, I wrote to him that I was fasting with him the day he had asked us to, and if he would go to Iraq and make invading very uncomfortable, I would become a devout Catholic. Needless to say, I am still a happy agnostic. His response to Bush's war plans was lame at best.

Support Pope's Morality - CONDEMN His Social Accions 08.Apr.2005 19:39

e muinoz

 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/pope/etc/script.html

A Review of PAPAL ISsues:

1.  http://www.onlinejournal.com/Commentary/040505Madsen/040505madsen.html

The dream candidate of the neocons for the next pope is the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn. According to a major neocon media outlet of convenience, The Jerusalem Post, Schoenborn, on a recent visit to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, echoed the Christian Zionist line of George W. Bush, Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich, and neocon Catholic and New American centurion Michael Novak. Schoenborn referred to Israel as "God's chosen land" for the Jewish people...

2. "I hold," said Gandhi in 1916,

"that economic progress ... is antagonistic to real progress. Hence the ancient ideal has been the limitation of activities promoting wealth. ... That you cannot serve both God and Mammon is an economic truth of the highest value. We have to make our choice. Western nations today are groaning under the heel of the monster-god of materialism. Their moral growth has become stunted. ...
This land of ours was once, we are told, the abode of the gods. It is not possible to conceive gods inhabiting a land which is made hideous by the smoke and the din of mill chimneys and factories and whose roadways are traveled by rushing engines dragging numerous cars crowded by men mostly who know not what they are after."

3. The Pope John Paul a War Criminal and Submissive Hypocrite for Bush
by Enrique Munoz
internacional@ becouz.com

A true confessional of those who care about the world's poor and the influence of the Catholic Church would uphold the Pope's stand on Morality and condemn his attacks on the Church for supporting the poor people who are struggling for social change.

The Martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero is a Saint and John Paul Leaves His Church in Ruins. Besides turning his native Poland into a materialistic haven for sex shops and profit seekers the Pope found time to honor hundreds of mostly wealthy and right wing buddies including many loyalists in the rein of General Franco's tyranny. He apologized globally for many of the sins of the Church's past, but little has changed and the Church continues to insist that spiritual and political issues are not connected.



If you happened to have witnessed the atrocities committed by US financed Death Squads in Central America during the 1980s the PBS Special on the Pope and his wrong leadership in Latin America strikes an awkward chord. To understand the crisis of the church and of politics in Latin America requires faith and a tolerance for pain.

"The church in Latin America has much to say about humanity.

It looks at the sad picture portrayed by the Puebla conference:
faces of landless peasants mistreated and killed by the forces of power,
faces of laborers arbitrarily dismissed and without a living wage for their families, faces of the elderly,
faces of outcasts, faces of slum dwellers, faces of poor children who from infancy begin to feel the cruel sting of social injustice.
For them, it seems, there is no future - no school, no high school, no university.
By what right have we cataloged persons as first-class persons or second-class persons?
In the theology of human nature there is only one class: children of God."
- Oscar Romero, Assassinated by US-backed death squads while saying Mass in San Salvador, 1980.

4. The commentator who was appauled at women crying over the Pope shows his western, middle class, uni0-culture upbringing,... To most people in the world US culture - Liberalism - Modernity look like hell in a han basket -

5. The Pope Was Right But He Did Wrong

"Wealth should not be accumulated for its own sake. It should not be gained by injustice or oppression. Wealth often leads to covetousness. It belongs to God, not to us; we are simply stewards. We sin if we do not use it to help the poor, the weak, and the oppressed (Ezek. 22:29)"

Most people in wealthy countries are raised to be fully middle class and materialistic - even most activists and people who think or pretend to be poor......

Pope John Paul understood more about human development and the long-term needs of society than almost anyone before. His great mistake was in underestimating capitalist materialism and the Evil of GW Bush (and most Americans!) He did and said many great things. However, his experiences in Poland under the Nazis and Stalinists warped his perceptions of the spiritual and also the real battles raging across the planet.

He thought that if he vanquished communism then the Church could deal with the excesses of capitalism. In this view he erred. And his blunder played into the plan of the profit hungry Modernists and their Board of Directors: The Bush Clan and New American Century proponents. The Pope's reign must be judged an evil influence, especially in Latin America.

6. HIS VIEWS ON MORALITY AND THE EVILS OF MODERNITY were nearly perfect: homosexuality, birth control, abortion and women's roles in the church. This is quite hard for the narrow-minded left of the US or Europe to understand - though they matter little now that Bush has taken over the West and the Pope has deformed Latin America.

The Pope opposed these social-moral diseases because he knew that to accept them meant to embrace band-aids rather than truth. He wanted a spiritual life for all instead of a life mediated by technology and vices.

From the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:19- 31
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal... "

Jesus asked his followers to sell everything, give their money to the poor and follow him. It is a time-honored tradition in India for a man who has completed his working life to give away his possessions and retreat to the forest to pray. The focus of Islamic life is devotion and surrender to Allah. Theravadan Buddhist monks take a vow of extreme poverty as they dedicate themselves to realizing the Buddha's teaching. The world's prophets knew that the material world offered limited satisfaction and directed us to look beyond it.

7. John Paul probably hoped for a type of Christian Socialism, but never could describe it.

"John Paul II was no follower of neo-liberalism. For him, markets and profits were not a solution to human problems, but a mechanism to be used for moral purposes. Indeed, we often forget that both Adam Smith and Herbert Spencer's reasoning are very similar. Both of them - the two greatest thinkers that promoted the idea of the free market - were also moral philosophers. For them, as for John Paul II, the free market and profits were ways to improve humanity. They were sometimes naive, as when Spencer hoped that rich citizens would nearly automatically be good citizens and thus find it natural to help those who were not so successful. John Paul II might have been naive, too, but only up to a point.

Everything depends on our idea of human nature. If we believe, as the Catholic Church believes, that human beings bear the burden of original sin, but are perfectible; that human beings can understand what is good and bad and can choose between them because we have free will, then approval of the free market is understandable and not naive. By this one encyclical, John Paul II moved Church teaching from the Middle Ages to modernity.

9. The Pope and the Vatican Hierarchy Harm the Church and Resist the Popular Church, The Theology of Liberation and the Aspirations of the Poor

"It was a tragedy what the Pope did in Central America and Latin America in the 1980's." The PBS show goes on to cite a number of observers who question whether the pontiff's judgment was clouded by his personal experience with communism in Poland.


The defining moment in John Paul's legacy was his unjust and disrespectful treatment of Arch Bishop Oscar Romero in 1980. Romero thought that the church's place was with the poor and to back radical social change to end the suffering and repression.

After meeting with the Pope, Romero said to an aide: " Help me to understand why I have been treated so badly by the Holy Father." The Pope had told Romero to get along with the government of El Salvador that with US money training and moral support was frantically killing priests, peasants and organizers by the tens of thousands yearly. Romero himself called the Pope's response to his pleas and the situation in El Salvador as "Unjust."

One month later the Arch Bishop was assassinated while saying mass. Romero's funeral turned into a bloody riot as the US-backed death squads (the Salvadoran Government) opened fire on the crowds.

From a 1979 letter to US President Carter by Oscar Romero:

"You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here, because they use it only to kill my people."


for more see:
apa poco loco
apa poco loco
romero mucho santo
romero mucho santo

sorry about those toes 09.Apr.2005 00:24

moon

"And they do. gw is much scarier to me than the pope could ever be." ....That's good...that's very good. The catholic church and it's pope have a far greater power which they wield over it's adherents than any mere political and societal government. They persuade adherents that the church is an essential factor in the fate of their eternal souls in heaven. God alone isn't enough apart from policies and religious requirements of the catholic church...confirmation of faith and spiritual integrity by requisite catholic heirarchal officials can be a nearly inescapable factor for catholics seriously contemplating their fate in the hereafter.

Devotees of catholicism allow orders from the vatican to pervade every corner of their existence. I would say that the influence of catholicism and the vatican has a far greater influence on government in many countries of the world rather than vice versa, gw's administration included.

For all the moral and ethical bankruptcy of the mafia, a sound relationship with the church is aparrently very important to members of that organization, and no doubt, the church profits highly as a result of the conscience/penalty/penitence system it has in place just for that aspect of human nature.

And just how does the church use the wealth it derives from such enterprizes? Well, sure, thankfully it devotes significant amounts of it to humanitarian causes. I think though, that at least to some degree, exactly how to quantify it, I'm not sure....that such contributions are accompanied with a strategy to exert greater and greater influence over world societies' spiritual conscience. A little bit similar to the way a big corporation makes contributions to humanitarian causes as a show of appreciation to the community that in reality often turns out to be a devious kind of spin technique.

Fortunately, many catholics have found spiritual clarity allowing them to muster autonomy from the church, and in turn utilize the catholic church's massive resources to good cause in spite of the church's effort to incorporate all of the earth's inhabitants under it's influence.

The catholic church has acquired and preserved great art...creative works of a partnership between god and humanity. Wealth beyond that, and I believe it's known there is a great deal of it indeed, for a spiritual leader passing down such lofty pronouncements regarding the evils of capitalism and indulgence in materialistic lifestyle, seems rather obscene. Whether the pope personally owns all the trappings and perks, he seems to indulge in them.

I'm glad catholics who participate in anti-war demonstration and other activist organizations read this site. Their efforts are admired and greatly appreciated. Are they strong enough spiritually to withstand criticism of the religious establishment to which they place their allegiance? I think so. I hope so. If my comments and those of others that resonate with a similar tone seem callous and out of hand, I would hope that adherents of catholicism that are sincere believers in god, will respectfully and compassionately consider the thoughts offered, with the idea that sometime in the future, opportunities to respond in a way that may aid understanding of matters we may not know everything we would hope, may present themselves.

The Pope has blood on his hands 09.Apr.2005 22:35

Terry Eagleton

The Pope has blood on his hands
The Pope did great damage to the church, and to countless Catholics
Terry Eagleton
Monday April 4, 2005
Guardian
John Paul II became Pope in 1978, just as the emancipatory 60s were declining into the long political night of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. As the economic downturn of the early 70s began to bite, the western world made a decisive shift to the right, and the transformation of an obscure Polish bishop from Karol Wojtyla to John Paul II was part of this wider transition. The Catholic church had lived through its own brand of flower power in the 60s, known as the Second Vatican Council; and the time was now ripe to rein in leftist monks, clap-happy nuns and Latin American Catholic Marxists. All of this had been set in train by a pope - John XXIII - whom the Catholic conservatives regarded as at best wacky and at worst a Soviet agent.
What was needed for this task was someone well-trained in the techniques of the cold war. As a prelate from Poland, Wojtyla hailed from what was probably the most reactionary national outpost of the Catholic church, full of maudlin Mary-worship, nationalist fervour and ferocious anti-communism. Years of dealing with the Polish communists had turned him and his fellow Polish bishops into consummate political operators. In fact, it turned the Polish church into a set-up that was, at times, not easy to distinguish from the Stalinist bureaucracy. Both institutions were closed, dogmatic, censorious and hierarchical, awash with myth and personality cults. It was just that, like many alter egos, they also happened to be deadly enemies, locked in lethal combat over the soul of the Polish people.
Aware of how little they had won from dialogue with the Polish regime, the bishops were ill-inclined to bend a Rowan-Williams-like ear to both sides of the theological conflict that was raging within the universal church. On a visit to the Vatican before he became Pope, the authoritarian Wojtyla was horrified at the sight of bickering theologians. This was not the way they did things in Warsaw. The conservative wing of the Vatican, which had detested the Vatican Council from the outset and done its utmost to derail it, thus looked to the Poles for salvation. When the throne of Peter fell empty, the conservatives managed to swallow their aversion to a non-Italian pontiff and elected one for the first time since 1522.
Once ensconced in power, John Paul II set about rolling back the liberal achievements of Vatican 2. Prominent liberal theologians were summoned to his throne for a dressing down. One of his prime aims was to restore to papal hands the power that had been decentralised to the local churches. In the early church, laymen and women elected their own bishops. Vatican 2 didn't go as far as that, but it insisted on the doctrine of collegiality - that the Pope was not to be seen as capo di tutti capi, but as first among equals.
John Paul, however, acknowledged equality with nobody. From his early years as a priest, he was notable for his exorbitant belief in his own spiritual and intellectual powers. Graham Greene once dreamed of a newspaper headline reading "John Paul canonises Jesus Christ". Bishops were summoned to Rome to be given their orders, not for fraternal consultation. Loopy far-right mystics and Francoists were honoured, and Latin American political liberationists bawled out. The Pope's authority was so unassailable that the head of a Spanish seminary managed to convince his students that he had the Pope's personal permission to masturbate them.
The result of centring all power in Rome was an infantilisation of the local churches. Clergy found themselves incapable of taking initiatives without nervous glances over their shoulders at the Holy Office. It was at just this point, when the local churches were least capable of handling a crisis maturely, that the child sex abuse scandal broke. John Paul's response was to reward an American cardinal who had assiduously covered up the outrage with a plush posting in Rome.
The greatest crime of his papacy, however, was neither his part in this cover up nor his neanderthal attitude to women. It was the grotesque irony by which the Vatican condemned - as a "culture of death" - condoms, which might have saved countless Catholics in the developing world from an agonising Aids death. The Pope goes to his eternal reward with those deaths on his hands. He was one of the greatest disasters for the Christian church since Charles Darwin.
Terry Eagleton is professor of cultural theory at Manchester University
Guardian Unlimited Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5162343-103677,00.html

Response to "Papal Comments" 09.Apr.2005 23:13

S Wallace

No, I will pray for your soul. I will ask the Goddess to forgive you for supporting a Pope that has encouraged people to greatly overreproduce, causing severe pollution including global warming and endangering all life on Earth. The ecology of this planet is on the verge of collapse because of ignorant people like you who see no moral AND basic survival need to have human population at a reasonable, sustainable level. Scientists believe this planet can only comfortably support a MAXIMUM of 3 billion people and we are close to 7 billion.

The Goddess is not pleased that overpopulation is trashing her beautiful, green earth. Can the Goddess ever forgive YOU?

comment arising from papal funeral 10.Apr.2005 05:22

rht

I'm not really surprised that the overly reverential tone in the mainstream media has provoked such a polarised reaction from the readers, but this obscures what I consider a truer picture of John Paul II's pontificate; that he was an effective and powerful figurehead for the movement which freed much of central and eastern europe from communism as well as a man who abused his position by issuing terrible and fatal advice on the supposed evils of condoms. At the same time, neither the Pope nor Reagan (last year's anti-communist saviour) were the primary motors behind the fall of communism (the people themselves; inspired principally by Gorbachev), and the poisonous advice of the church on birth control is sensibly ignored by many Catholics in Africa. Your respondents need to give people more credit.

The Pious Perspective 10.Apr.2005 07:30

Mary Hale

You saw it here first...

Choice 10.Apr.2005 10:16

brent

If we suggest that the Vatican's powers are limited to telling people what to do, and that people can then 'just say no' this is a bit of an oversimplification.

For example, one could say that an African can just say no to the Vatican and then go get condoms, and in theory, that is true, for African's with money. For African's without, it might mean a trip to the United Nations sponsored family clinic, where, thanks to the religious right and the Vatican, it might no longer be possible to get a condom, since the Bush administration is using the threat of withholding funding to stack the United Nations deck with Right Wing Christian ideologues. So you can so no to the Vatican, in your thoughts, but that doesn't always mean that therefore you can go get a condom. Doesn't work like that...

Similarly, the Roman Catholic Church is the world's single largest real estate owning entity, and this leads to lots of power and influence as well. For example, you can tell some liberation theologian to shut up, and that theologian can then ignore the Vatican, but first, that theologian might want to find another job, since you see the church is the landlord you might say, and owns that university, and so you can shut your mouth and keep your job, make the rent and the mortgage, or you can be a hero and declare bankruptcy, and maybe try for welfare, if they still have that program available.

It isn't always just as simple as saying 'No' to the Pope, and there are complex reasons why the Vatican weilds the kind of influence it still does, not the least of which is that massive real estate holdings and the financial power that goes with such wealth and influence.

As well it doesn't help matters much if you are an African, dependant on getting some facts and information from the Family Center, and due to that deck stacking, you wind up being 'informed' of the great dangers of condoms, and thus make an 'informed' choice not to bother. Once again, money and power play a role, since when you have the cash you can hire the staff, print the information, and so on.

Things just are not simple, and there is a complex web of power at play here that makes such matters as 'choosing a Pope' an important decision, since it will have real life repercusions, beyond the effect it might have on someone who can just say 'No' to the pope and not much will happen as a result...

popes contribution to clowndom 10.Apr.2005 10:24

dingo

I cant see that the pope has done Anything for the planet at all. I did write a piece about that and got a few folks mad at me so I found a real contribution to the world.
He wears a funny hat.

Inquisition 10.Apr.2005 11:41

znet

The Pope Who Revived the Office of the Inquisition
An American Catholic Reflects on Papacy of John Paul II
 http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=105&ItemID=7608

Visiting a synagogue and a mosque, issuing a few statements about Iraq and Palestine, opposition to capital punishment as an isolated issue--Sorry, but these and some other (mainly symbolic) "proofs" of John Paul's "humanity" and his "apostolate of peace" ring very, very hollow to this American Catholic who has had his tradition and his Church wrenched from him by an Eastern European rightwing fanatic in Pope's clothes.

Hypocrisy is today's real religion 11.Apr.2005 15:45

***

It's mind boggling to read about all those people who label themselves "catholics" yet who feel the need to say that they do not follow "all" the dogmas of the church. Why this need to cling to a Medieval institution who is ruled by conservative old men who hate and fear women amidst them. (This alone should make people think about the kind of institution it REALLY is.)

The Church is the sum total of its historical deeds. PERIOD! And it has some hell of a history! Only the illiterate ignorami or mentally insecure still belong to it.

We are what we do. To say that this last Pope's morality was good and his deeds were bad is totally absurd. If I kill someone not out of self defense but out of my own interest, and then I try to convince others that I am deep down a good moral person, who would be so foolish as to believe me. I would be mistrusted and shunned in my community. Yet this Pope - a terrific actor- is responsible for the death of God knows how many hundreds of thousands if not millions of people yet he is worshipped as a Saint? I thank God that I left that evil evil church - full of abusive and parasitical misogynist males.

Something stinks in all religions but this one beats them all.

patriarchy is a dirty business 11.Apr.2005 16:59

quit the team if you don't like the game

> I do think he was right on about capitalism, war, third world debt and the
> poor. He was however an 84 year old man --- not too many men of his
> generation have been able to shift their thinking about women, sex and other
> such "domestic" issues.

The church is a very assertive force for overpopulation, homophobia, male supremacy and STD pandemics. It has no leverage to enforce these policies on modern, wealthy, educated societies, so it enforces them with superstition and "charity" (i.e. subsistence rationing) on poor people. This is not "bigotry," this is the truth.

We don't care WHY the church has its head up its ass. If unaccountable 84 year olds are not an appropriate demographic to be deciding social policy for a billion people, then the church better stop appointing geriatric popes, and it better stop expecting them to drag their power with them into their deathbeds. As I recall, the ministry of "Jesus" (supposing any such person ever existed) was conducted entirely during the man's late 20s and early 30s. Recruiting priests out of high school and retiring them, and the pope, at the same age Jeezy was crucified would be a grand idea. But then the church wouldn't be nearly as useful a tool for holding together a multi-generational patriarchy with the geezers at the top.

The Pope lied to the world 11.Apr.2005 18:24

Jesus

The Pope has said that he was not responsible for the fall of "communism" but that it was its inherent problems that destroyed it.
Well, what he never said (maybe he was not as well read in philosophy and marxist theory despite the fact that his PR people try to have us believe that his writings/babblings made of him some sort of a "philosopher")- what he NEVER said was that "communism" has never yet existed anywhere on this planet. The USSR was analyzed by scholars of marxism as being a form of "state capitalism" - profits still existing, division of labour, powerful bureaucrats with privileges, women still oppressed by the vestiges of a cultural patriarchy (but still more equal than in the west!)centralized decision-making, freedoms curtailed, etc., et. The Soviet model was driven to a disaster by the West pushing them to the economic brink with an insane arms' race (faulty CIA intelligence being used to extract taxpayers' money.)

What the Pope LIED about(through omission) was that the Vatican and Reagan's CIA sent reactionary priests with money and gestetners for anti-communist propaganda purposes in Poland. His financial support precipated the organizing and the fall more than the West would like us to know.

Telling the South American liberation-theologist-priests helping the poor organize against fascist dictators to stay out of politics, he did nothing but meddle in politics himself!
This is not bigotry - but facts! Catholics like all institutional-brainwashed-poorly-read people are quick to call all factually based critiques: "bigotry". It's the easy way out; don't analyze, just dismiss logic with labels and love thyself for doing it.

On the dying of Popes 21.Oct.2005 07:42

Elizabeth Parenti Soba dead_rose_rising@yahoo.com

By curious chance I have been in some form of confinement by Federal and state government during the deaths of the last three popes, during this one the most news coverage was available to me. I was interested most by the action conducted by Italian Chatholic feminist in doing a female cruxifition re-enactment over easter, meant I beleave to make a statement on the churches patriarchal and masogynist stance. I would be interested in hearing more from any closer source about this event.

I think it is important to understand the deliniation between believe systems of spirituality and institutions of control and dominance. The career of Eugenio Pacelli (1876-1958), later Pope Pious XII, demonstrates the effect and desire of the Vatican to maintain it's own power over local, regional and national divisions within the body of the church. This is covered well in the book Hitler's pope and I recommend it's content in understanding the degree to which many institutions including the church have opted to side with oppression and the roots of suffering in order to provide more strenth and stability to the institution as a priority placed above individuals and humanity as a whole.

Elizabeth Parenti Soba


you people... 18.Mar.2006 23:00

no mice

Don't really know anything about Catholicism do you? You try to cover your ignorance of the church by talking in circles about condoms and Latin American priests.

Catholics in Africa are a minority; Islam and native religions make up a greater percent of religion in the population.

Most of Latin America's problems were caused by Spain and the USA.

John Paul II was old, from a conservative country, and had trouble from Nazis and the USSR. Therefore, he had old views, and a distrust for changes.

Homosexuality? Birth Control? Women's Roles? Within the church, views on the matter are changing; at some point in the future, we will be liberal as you; at which point, your descendants will accuse us of being Neanderthals, parasites, sickos, etc.

We're not trying to overpopulate the earth; we believe in responsibility. Don't have sex if you don't want to be pregnant. Don't be a whore, find something useful with your life. Abusive husband? We will let you leave, because a marriage without love is in fact not a marriage.

Complaining about the morals of my faith, most of these complaints being stereotypes against the Irish that have spread to all Catholics, is more bigoted than any statement made by an old man with old views.

At least Pope John Paul II wasn't a Sedevacantist Catholic.

----------------------------
By the way- why watch the funeral if you don't really care? It's not like you're helping anyone that way.