Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 02, 2005

Billmon: Shoes of the Fisherman

But the church is more than just a political institution, and a pope can't be evaluated in political terms alone -- left on economic issues, right on abortion, as if he were a candidate in a U.S. Senate race. A pope's moral impact on the world, like the impact of the church itself, has a lot of moving parts, including the complexity of the religious experience, the material or psychological benefits each believer derives from that experience, and -- last but hardly least -- the impact of religious doctines or practices on nonbelievers.
As the church moves through the ancient rituals of succession, I'll be watching closely -- to see whether the old graybacks in the College of Cardinals can transcend their own limitations and produce a pope like John XXIII, or whether the reactionaries will, as usual, have the upper hand and the kind of papacy that goes with it.

The answer may not determine the fate of the church -- for a 2,000-year-old institution, what's another CEO, more or less? But it will go a long way towards telling me whether I should, on balance, regard that ancient institution as an ally or an enemy of the moral values I believe in.
Shoes of the Fisherman

Posted by b on April 2, 2005 at 06:18 AM | Permalink

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Adding to Billmon's piece (very good again Billmon!) Josh Marshall's piece on the issue is also well written.

Posted by: b | Apr 2, 2005 10:24:07 AM | 1

It's not "2,000-year-old". Probably is more than 3,000-years-old.
There is a continuity from Aegipt´s pharaos religion, and older religion coming from Babel and elsewhere.

Posted by: curious | Apr 2, 2005 12:45:16 PM | 2

A glaring ommision from Billmon's summary: pedophile priests.

Whatever else he may have (or not) done, this episode was equivalent of Bush's WMD lies, Iran Contra, and all the rest. I don't know what the pontiff may have known of the goings on, though given his tight fist over bishops it's hard to believe this stuff was a surprise. However his actions after the facts were out are unforgivable: it was a coverup.

Bishops in trouble were shuttled off to the protective setting of the Vatican. US Bishops and Cardinals PR was reminiscent of Rovian damage control. I recall high profile events, with Bishops explaining their efforts at corrective measures in holy, liturgical, and deliberately obfuscatory language. That "his holiness" was guiding their every step was oft repeated. Subsequent actions were a testament to their intentions: eg. cover their butts. Their pleas were for "forgiveness" of the offenders, without ever conveying a sense of the magnitude of the crimes or communicating a conviction they understood any of this.

That the church... claiming *moral* authority on Earth, can't come clean on such a fundamental depravity is something I can't gloss over in memorium to a man who's caricature does not match his record.

This was an evil in their midst, and they failed... utterly. AFAIC, his legacy is roughly akin to Nixon's. That the current ceremonial rhetoric is more or less "by the book" while simultaneously ignoring monumental failures in moral clarity, it all seems to me another chapter of "Let us Pretend".

This is what's truly sad about this moment in my view.

Posted by: JDMcKay | Apr 2, 2005 1:30:06 PM | 3

JD McKay, perhaps you merely wished to ventilate in more detail about your own pet peeve but if you take the trouble to return to Billmon's article it will repay further reading for there, nestling among the many words, you will indeed find reference to that issue which you claim, erroneously, that Billmon failed to address.

Posted by: Recté | Apr 2, 2005 1:46:25 PM | 4

The glaring omission, imo: AIDS in Africa. How many have died because of this man's stubborn stand against contraception?

Posted by: mats | Apr 2, 2005 2:34:10 PM | 5

i will not mourn him. not at all. he & pius were two of the most reactionary leaders of their church. he was & reamained an anti-semite - something as casula to polish culture of his generation as breathing. & yes i've 'heard' of all the stories of the 'good' pope in this regard - & i do not believe them

his major crime & his deliberate destruction of liberation theology is to the church's shame. & in lmatin america especially american evangalists have been quick to replace them with terrible consequences

the only decent thing i can say - is that he was very clear in his opposition to bush & his policies - especially the war(s) of anhilation in iraq & afghanistan

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 2, 2005 2:39:55 PM | 6

& that other old fraud & 'man of god', jerry falwell isn't he also feeling poorly

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 2, 2005 2:54:52 PM | 7

The chuch and sexuality is some wired issue. During its some 2000 years of continued burocracy the church has been at its core both very free and very strict on sexual issues. Neither in itself seems to have been, over the times, a negative for the church. But I do think the difference between saying and doing has been a negative and is today and should be changed.

So I wonder why the catholic church (and other churches who follow that lead) doesn´t put aside the issue. To be strict on sexuality does not give more followers (unless you count some starving kids with AIDs born form lack of condoms), more funds or more reputation or legitimacy.

The church has -naturaly- always had deep sexual issues. In times of "free" sexual behavior they had orgies and incest, in times of strict sexual behaviour they have sex starved priests assaulting the most easily reachable prey. There is of course homosexual contact in every friary and candles in nunneries do smell special.

So why not go to a neutral stance on this. There are more deep running issues of human life that deserve the power of believe.

Maybe a new pope will have an answer to that. The current cardinals -most of them put in place by Karol Wojtila- are conservative. But that does not mean they will elect a conservative one. A fat pope is always followed by a slim one and whoever goes into the conclave as pope will leave it as cardinal. So maybe there is some hope for a decent leader there.

On the other hand, there has been some 27(?) years of a pope now who mostly worked in the open world, traveling and opining often outside the church. Maybe the organisation will look for someone who is more inside and will take his 5-10 years to reorganise the inside before there is time again for some outside acting pope.

To us, speculating how the US 2004 election "mandate" may influence what's happening in the 2006 elections, is an urgent issue. To the catholic church and those cardinals the twentyfrist century maybe a soso century after a reasonably run in the twentiest century and not be off the scale as much as to worry about it - whoever they may vote for.

So what is facinating me (and I think also Billmon) is this time dimension we are not used to take into account to this extend. How does one manage an organisation to reach shareholders expectations in 2857?

Posted by: b | Apr 2, 2005 2:57:20 PM | 8

Oh well - he is dead the tickers say. (I wonder what judge allowed to pull the feeding tube. Where is Tom deLay when he is needed?)

Posted by: b | Apr 2, 2005 3:10:46 PM | 9

Pope John Paul II dies

Posted by: R.I.P. | Apr 2, 2005 3:20:56 PM | 10

Recté said:
<...> will repay further reading for there, nestling among the many words, you will indeed find reference to that issue<...>

uhhh... sort of. I consider...

the bestial sex crimes uncovered in the parishes of America over the past few years can't be laid at John Paul's feet

... an ommision. If it wasn't at his feet, it was on his shoulders. Digressing to celibacy issues is as relevant as the latest white house intelligence failure report.

If the church can't get this right, what's their purpose? One can almost conclude that to some, the pageantry is an end in itself. AFAIC, art and literature fullfill that need nicely. The church (should) have a higher calling.

That you (or anyone) consider this stuff a "pet peeve" makes me wonder.

Anyway, he summarizes...

If all this sounds like an extended apologia for the Catholic Church, I suppose it is.

I agree, that's what it sounded like.

I read him everyday. Along w/Digby, my favorite blog journalists. But even Billmon flubs one now and then.

He eloquently highlights Bush malfeasance that concerns us all, and illuminates principle in the process. That the Popester's ceremonial hoopla apparently trumps the other stuff strikes me as out of charactar.

Posted by: JDMcKay | Apr 2, 2005 3:24:14 PM | 11

I read an article in last yr. or two discussing next pope. Said this guy made sure selecting body packed w/reactionaries, so only question left is whether it/he will be a male homosexual or male pedophile & skin color.

It's sad when things go so awry that institutions don't die in a timely fashion so that they can be reborn. In the absence of that it eludes me why the xAm. Catholics don't just secede from the corrupt disaster of Rome. They provide the lions share of the money. I assume they think they'll wield more power domestically if they don't - or simple inertia.

There was a link on buzzflash 2 days ago that a new order of these perverts - from maleseminarians thru malepriests - has been formed to focus specifically on political action. This probably grew out of meetings w/Protestant Fundies. It was a Hey Guys, let's bury the hatchet & go after our real enemy - Women. They're going to go after Abortion big time.

At a time when being seriously & intelligently pro-life means figuring out how to quickly reduce the human population by say ~1/2 - 2/3 very quickly, before the capacity of this planet to support life is extinguished, this only underscores their illiteracy, irrelevancy & personal hysteria at thought of not controlling women which they've institutionalized for too long.

Posted by: jj | Apr 2, 2005 3:39:50 PM | 12

Europe alone needs a pope who's prepared to ponder the possibility of some connection between the flood of African immigrants into Europe, on the one hand, and Africa's raging AIDS epidemic, on the other (since people flee plagues, and plagues tend to concentrate in places). In other words, Europe, along with the rest of the world, needs a pope who can think clearly about human sexuality. Ordinarily, of course, one would never seek, or hope to find, such a clear line of thought in the leading celibate functionary of a celibate bureaucracy. But the Church has been playing such a big, negative role in Africa for such a long time, that it's beginning to harm to its own local (European) constituencies. And so it's time for the Church to do the impossible thing, and begin to ponder human sexuality in a responsible fashion. In fact, the governments of Europe should demand that it do so. Better yet, the Catholic peoples of Europe should pressure the Church at the parish level to do so. Boycotts would be one way to go about this.

As for the Pope who just passed away, de mortuis nil nisi bonum.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 2, 2005 4:03:48 PM | 13

how anybody including billmon can suggest on whole that christianity in general & the catholic church in particular score a positive is beyond me

as an instrument of power it has always & without reserve supported reaction. as an ideology it is riddled not only with inconsistencies & outright lies but also with an image of itself that is contrary to its material reality

the liberation theology which was not only catholic but had its roots in many theological strains is about the only moment in recent catholicism worth something

i will not list the endless crimes & i think that is the appropriate word to use when we are speaking of the material neglect of the poor on all continents. their unbelievably shameful response to aids especially in africa is cause for the highest concern

zionist will suggest that he healed rifts between judaism & catholicism but that too would be far from the truth. he was & remained as i sd a product of his generation in poland who were to a man - anti-semites - so deeply anti -semitic that the poles instititued laws, exclusions & ghettoisations long before the nazis concretised their efforts. his false reconciliation was simply an accord amongst power & little more than that

the people he pushed most favourably at all levels of the heirarchy are members of opus dei & their fellow travellers who have their roots in national fascist movements iin france, spain, italy & numerous other countries in the early twentieth century. the thug pius & his concordat with the nazis was mere recognition of that fact. pius's actual neglect of jewry during the second world war tells the real story

the church too has played a role in infantilising & eradicating civic duty & the responsibilisation of its flock

its continual crisis with sexuality is a long & perverted history but for me what was done to destroy liberation theology & worker priests was an indication that it does not & will not respond with human decency. it has & will ally itself to its own needs & desires

they pretend at a piety they do not possess. eben less an exemplariness. at least the american gangsters falwell, robertson, schuller, baker & swaggart are what they are - small time crooks with small time patois who feed not into our own fear but our own greed

& i do not undrstand how someone who is prepared to mock cruelly & not without justification the historical currents in modern china including the cultural revoltion seems quite blind to the quotidian realities of the power & the deeds of the church especially in the 20th century

the quotidian cruelty & ignorance of religious practice is in & of itself an abdomination. man created man. man is man

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 2, 2005 4:17:13 PM | 14

"its continual crisis with sexuality is a long & perverted history but for me what was done to destroy liberation theology & worker priests was an indication that it does not & will not respond with human decency"

Does anyone have any thoughts on whether hierarchy were asked for approval before assasination of ArchBishop Romero?

Posted by: jj | Apr 2, 2005 4:24:45 PM | 15

RGiap - I am with you on this one.
"Bilan globalement positif' my ass.

Posted by: Jérôme | Apr 2, 2005 4:26:39 PM | 16

Meanwhile Iraq

Posted by: Friendly Fire | Apr 2, 2005 4:32:25 PM | 17

in our time or that of our most recent century two figures stand out as both exemplary figures -indeed even sacred figures - that of nelson mandela & of ernesto 'che' guevara - simone weil obvioussly too is in that league but this pope or that - for me at least - is of no historical or even sacred importance

jj is correct to mention the archbishop romero who could not have been isolated as he was without at least a tacit content of members of the heirarchy because his killers were themseleves deeply catholic especially that killer boy aubisson

in relation to romero & many others within the church who were liquidated it is interesting to go back to the italian general della chiesi & judge giovanni falcone - when they both speak of how a fgure of importance is first isolated, mocked then killed & you will find many many of those liquidated follow that pattern

that great son of the church guilleo andreotti & close intimate of toto riina saw the corrupt state, the mafia & the church as not only the real synthesis but also a contemporary holy trinity

we as a species should not be so vain about our ideological constructs whether they are religious or political & jérôme is correct to rebuke me when i do not see the humanity which constitutes both form & theory

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 2, 2005 4:53:11 PM | 19

RGiap sez:
"in our time or that of our most recent century two figures stand out as both exemplary figures -indeed even sacred figures - that of nelson mandela & of ernesto 'che' guevara - simone weil obvioussly too is in that league but this pope or that - for me at least - is of no historical or even sacred importance"

If the term sacred implies almost post-mortal wisdom that we need right now, I would add the Dali Lama to his list.

And there are a few very specially moral & wise members of the patriarchal monotheistic sects left, say Huston Smith & Karen Armstrong, although generally this particular thought form has thoroughly exhausted its contribution to human advancement. Pope Fossil-the-Toomanyith coming down the pike all too soon sounds like yet another member of the broken record club. It's unfortunate that Europe wasn't able to entirely toss the Vatican to the winds & redistribute it's assets during the Enlightenment. Catholicism wouldn't be nearly as hindered in its evolution w/out that avowedly reactionary & obscenely rich linchpin. I heard the Vatican is the Richest Corporation in the World. Anyone know anything about that?

Right now I'm worried that w/Bu$h & Berlusconi in power, a radically reactionary pope could come in to link up w/Protestant & Jewish Fundies.

Posted by: jj | Apr 2, 2005 6:33:30 PM | 20

Well, as I said in the previous thread about Billmon's "globally very good", I strongly disagree with him. He seems to have some kind of romantic vision of some organisation who never existed the way he sees it. And I'm baffled by his praising of Catholic liturgy. Having most of my family Catholic, I can say I never heard one single priest who had any kind of charisma or obvious intellect. From what stuttering babble they gave during masses, I don't think any one of the score I've seen could make a convincing speech to save his own life. Of course, it's not as if I've seen Protestant ministers who are anything else than nutcases (a very few cases thankfully) or just as numbingly dull as Catholic priests.
Basically, there's no surprise that we're seeing a dying organisation in Western nations. They may need the conservatory stance for 3rd world, but they surely need a massive aggiornamento for US and Europe, otherwise they'll lose 3/4 of their followers in the next 25 years.

Concerning Catholic church, I won't say I'm impressed by 2.000 years of abuses and greedy reign. Rather, than it is the biggest proof of the innate inertia of humans, because any decent species would have booted them and made revolution to get back to the core Christian principles.
Though Billmon was perfectly right to point that Catholicism is a weird mix of pre-monotheist religions and Christianism, with the Mother-Goddess cult and the Saints cult - which is a direct carbon copy of old Mediterranean superstitions, and if you don't believe me, visit Padua's cathedral and then go to Asclepios' sanctuary in Epidauros.

Concerning JPII, well, as said, his stance on AIDS arguably killed millions. His stance on no condoms for birth control arguably killed millions from starvation and overally poverty in (mostly) Africa.
All in all, my (as usual vile and psychotic) final assessment of JPII's untimely death is similar to Greg Palast' kakology of Reagan:
Good riddance. Another proof that only the good die young.
(and if someone can tell me why Kennedys were shot but Reagan survived, and why JPI was poisoned, but JPII survived...)

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Apr 3, 2005 8:48:04 AM | 21

Pope John Paul II : a tribute

Juan Cole takes a look at the Pope you maybe didn't see or understand.

Posted by: Nugget | Apr 3, 2005 1:56:13 PM | 22

After John Paul II - the state of Catholic church in the U.S.A.

Posted by: He didn't start the fire | Apr 3, 2005 3:28:51 PM | 23

first billmon then juan cole -

i don't see any progressive agenda - i think i know of the same things as mr cole & how open ended sympathy of the palestinians can be mistaken for even the softest form of advocacy

on the death penalty - the entire world with few exceptions is opposed to it

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 3, 2005 3:53:06 PM | 24>more thoughts on the pope and the papacy

I think Juan Cole was reaching a bit.

also the personal qualities of the pope are secondary to the institutional qualities of the church. I think Jimmy Carter may have had good intentions, but the structural inertia of the vast machine at whose head he was temporarily perched was far too great for any one man to shift. steering doesn't come from the figurehead -- it comes from quite the other end of the ship :-)

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 3, 2005 5:06:05 PM | 25


i think both billmon & juan cole were reaching a bit. the thearticality of the deaths of this poepe & that woman in florida make obscene the daily deaths of so many. & the deaths thata are so unnecessary & cruel as are those in iraq & afghanistan. there is not one leader worth more than any of the members of the hassan family & anybody who thinks that is not true is a 'criminal' of war

there have been so few leaders in the last century who are really worth anything at all. there are many imperfect people who have tried to honour humanity & their efforts ought to be honoured

we have already made obscene any sense of honouring. if murdoch is not the chief celebrant then it is not a worthy death & if i was the meeting cardinals i would choose rupert murdoch to lead their chirch because he is a figure that is closer to their real & practical sense of power. murdoch is the man who has created that tattered pole we call morality & ethics & he has created the perverted clergy like bill o'reilly

whatever murdoch calls vision & i sincerely doubt he has heard of that word or has nay sense of its meaning. if the church's main task was to institutionalise both people's fears & their capacity of wonderment - then rupert is the man who has done most to create & foster fear. & murdoch is the man who has most destroyed wonderment

the church has never really been interested in humanity. neither does rupert murdoch. they are a perfect match

humans are such wondrous creatures that it is in their poverty - their actual poverty & their spiritual poverty that one begins to understand their once beautiful capacity for wonderment - which lmed in gifted people to vision & left in the rest of us a common humanity which served to humanise lives societies

murdoch has destroyed that. almost completely. he is the one who hands out the new sacrements on his reality television. he is the one who deigns to tell us where the dragons live. he is the one who has torn so insistently at the fabric of a common morality - there is very little left

when we read as we have on moon in the last several days of what american soldiers, christian american soldiers have done in iraq & afghanistan to other people - men women & children - we can only wonder precisely what cloths of morality are left to us today & for those that follow us tommorrow

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 3, 2005 5:30:35 PM | 26

The Catholic church must keep a grip on sexual behavior, that is, encourage, promote, child bearing; ignore and cover up sexual abuse of women and children and young men-- To both reinforce the power of patriarchy and the priesthood, those who are on top (in their eyes, their experience) and at the same time pretend to control their adherents in the one area, private life, where they still can. They also need to side with all the other power mongers, showing that they are on board with some repressive measures and so are deserving of attention, a seat at the table.

These values overode the humanitarian ideal of implementing simple measures to save lives and prevent misery (condoms etc. to prevent AIDS.) Most un-Christ-like, but there you are. When values clash, you gotta go where the best bet is.

As Bush did with his endless harping on abstinence, legislation concerning faith based initiatives, half-hearted (and false) attempts to scotch women-friendly health programs, etc.

But Oh! Bush stole the Pope’s cards and trumped him by giving mucho money for AIDS patients, treatment, orphans (and what a fuss was made of that...but no one bothered to find out where the money went or how it was spent or invested..), a brilliant move.

The American establishment knocked Catholicism hard with the pedophile priests scandals, and then grabbed the suffering children card for themselves, that is, for the Kristians and Zionists. (All fake of course. Pot calling the kettle black.)

That irked the Pope no end, I guess, therefore his anti-US stance and his hesitant foray into world politics, his completely silly pontificating and disgusting, despicable contradictions, created by his own stupidity, lack of foresight, and inhumanity.

Posted by: Blackie | Apr 3, 2005 5:32:21 PM | 27

this is the church & these are its cardinals

The media organizations in charge of vetting our images of war have become fewer and bigger — and the news more uniform and gung ho. Six huge corporations now control the major U.S. media: Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation (FOX, HarperCollins, New York Post, Weekly Standard, TV Guide, DirecTV and 35 TV stations), General Electric (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Telemundo, Bravo, Universal Pictures and 28 TV stations), Time Warner (AOL, CNN, Warner Bros., Time and its 130-plus magazines), Disney (ABC, Disney Channel, ESPN, 10 TV and 72 radio stations), Viacom (CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Simon & Schuster and 183 U.S. radio stations), and Bertelsmann (Random House and its more than 120 imprints worldwide, and Gruner + Jahr and its more than 110 magazines in 10 countries).

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 3, 2005 5:39:54 PM | 28

Quite. A local Catholic priest and scholar explained on the radio yesterday that a large part of the pope's function is as a representative of the church, institution and people. Papal pronouncements are meant to be synthesised from the views of Catholics, as well as the other way around.

In fact the priest on the radio irritated me, defending the authoritarianism of the Catholic church as neccesary to prevent individual interpretations of Christian faith from creating religious anarchy - saying that it's important to have someone adjudicate on what's Christian and what's not. (He used Catholic and Christian fairly interchangeably) It seemed to me a profoundly disempowering idea: all your religious experiences belong to us and we'll tell you which ideas are valid.

Posted by: Oliver T. | Apr 3, 2005 5:50:35 PM | 29

Juan Cole has some excerps from Karol Wojtila's speeches The Other Pope

With the ones he cites I can whole heartly agree. With other I am disgusted.

Posted by: b | Apr 3, 2005 6:03:43 PM | 30

Showman, mystic, philosopher

Karol Jozef Wojtyla was a towering force of humanistic and spiritual illumination and an unparalleled global evangelist who compelled a noisy world to pay attention to his words…..

Posted by: Balance beyond vitriol | Apr 3, 2005 7:16:39 PM | 31

Karol Jozef Wojtyl was to metaphysics what albert speer was to architecture

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 3, 2005 7:31:46 PM | 32

the church is the genuine article, the name brand, while the saccharine, homogenized brand of Protestantism I was raised with is the pale imitation

He certainly echoed my thoughts on this point. There aren't a lot of things more stupid than Protestant evangelicals who hate Catholicism .

Posted by: bcf | Apr 3, 2005 7:52:30 PM | 33

The pope and his 'historical legacy' are being raised to quite astonishing levels. A global media who pored over and elevated to a form of pornography, his long, slow and painful descent into a dribbling and semi-comatose state, now hoist his corpse up to the ranks of the most powerful and influential human of the 20th century. It is a disgrace, surely, to attribute to this one man, the collapse of the Stalinist edifice. It began to crumble in the 1950s from its own internal contradictions; and Reaganite arms spending in the 1980s was the final kick in the door that brought it all down. It is equally shameful that courageous workers’ struggles in Poland in the 1980s, struggles to become consumers, not pious Catholics, we must remember, has been credited to the 'inspiration' of one man. Historical forces are deeper, much deeper, than that. Historical forces move, whereas the pope was deeply conservative. If Stalin and those who came after him supported the Catholic Church instead of stupidly taunting it 'how many divisions does the pope have?' The Vatican would have been just as conservative on the question of Communism--in fact a Stalinist Christian order would have been immensely powerful, challenged only by a US counterpoint, the one that is currently in the ascendency. The head man in the Vatican, as rememberinggiap touch on, is concerned primarily with higher orders of power, and how to shape historical forces to augment that power. The media-vision of those sobbing millions, blinded by their tears to the reality of religion and power, is simply the next instalment of the made-for-media drama that followed the pornography of his lingering death.

Posted by: Theodor | Apr 3, 2005 10:07:55 PM | 34

It occurs to me that if networks gave Howard Dean 1% of the untarnished coverage give the pope, Howard could work miracles.

Posted by: JDMcKay | Apr 3, 2005 10:56:12 PM | 35>Link to Libération....This is the only article I've been able to find anywhere that describes, in a calm, cool way, the disaster that this Pope has visited upon his flock.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 3, 2005 11:58:12 PM | 36

And Terry Eagleton certainly gets it right about the Pope's relationship to AIDS link to Guardian

Posted by: alabama | Apr 4, 2005 12:18:14 AM | 37

I seem to have messed up that link to Terry Eagleton, so just go to the Guardian, where it's posted in the Monday edition.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 4, 2005 12:21:36 AM | 38

Thanks, alabama, for Eagleton's Guardian comment.

Posted by: teuton | Apr 4, 2005 9:36:19 AM | 39,2933,152309,00.html>"God bless America."

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 4, 2005 11:57:42 AM | 40

Well good that Theodor pointed out that the Pope had nothing to do with the collapse of “Communism” - as used to refer to one flowering of the murderous, repressive, dictatorial, one-party State.

Historical forces move, to quote Theodor, Yes Indeed.

Surely we have enough fundamentalist religionists cum hyper conservatives cum media manipulators about to not wax sentimental about the prolonged publicised illness and death of one of them, at a late age. “We” being a general we, the people.

alabama, Libé, yes that was good.

Here is another, from der Spiegel (Eng.):,1518,348471,00.html>Spiegel


Consequences: A servile episcopate and intolerable legal conditions. Any pastor, theologian or layperson who enters into a legal dispute with the higher church courts has virtually no prospects of prevailing. (..)

Consequences: Ecumenical understanding was blocked after the council, and relations with the Orthodox and Protestant churches were burdened to an appalling extent. The papacy, like its predecessors in the 11th and 16th centuries, is proving to be the greatest obstacle to unity among Christian churches in freedom and diversity. (..)

Consequences: Rome's clericalist policy merely strengthens the position of dogmatic anti-clericalists and fundamentalist atheists. It also creates suspicion among believers that religion could be being misused for political ends. (..)

Posted by: Blackie | Apr 4, 2005 12:38:28 PM | 41

Thanks for the link, Blackie. As you know, all we get is fluff.

Posted by: beq | Apr 4, 2005 1:12:48 PM | 42

Well I guess that the death of a man who oversees an institution that is vehemently anti-war and anti-violence, that provides spiritual guidance and comfort to over one billion people, that has people who visit the sick in hospital, that has people who visit the imprisoned in jails all around the world, that maintains contact with and exerts pressure on behalf of political prisoners in vicious regimes around the world, that has people who quietly and without fuss provide money, clothing, furniture and other items to the poor in their communities all over the world, that works with lepers and other sufferers from contagious diseases, that establishes and runs schools, colleges and education schemes for millions who otherwise would receive no tutoring whatsoever, including people who are blind, deaf, maimed by war, orphaned or abandoned, that is involved in famine relief work on a massive scale, that is involved with farming and irrigation projects, that is involved with housing and shelter projects, that runs hospices for the dying, that has people who provide the only medical attention they will ever receive to millions, that works with troubled and out-of-control youth and offers routes back to dignity, that offers solace to the condemned, the sick and the dying along with countless other unsung, unacknowledged, unrecognized, unconsidered, uncounted acts of charity, mercy and compassion around the world that often comprise the only responses to the brutality of imperial wars, the misery inflicted by failed communist, totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, as well as trying to counter the indignities, poverty and hardship endured by millions upon millions in so-called free and prosperous nations, is the proper occasion to pass comments saying what an evil cunt he was.

His whole wicked organization should be dismantled and the pathetic dupes who benefit in their multi-millions from its activities should be allowed to rot or die screaming through torture, hunger and agony. That monster stood between them and the very real salvation to be gained from the precious truth as delivered by small embittered leftist demagogues. May he receive his proper reward for it. As for ‘de mortuis nil nisi bonum - fuggedaboudit.

Posted by: Obsequy | Apr 4, 2005 2:25:43 PM | 43

vehement : (1.) fierce: marked by extreme intensity of emotions or convictions; inclined to react violently; fervid; (2.) characterized by great force or energy

"one should not lose sight of the real" - frantz fannon

Posted by: b real | Apr 4, 2005 2:44:28 PM | 44

US envoy says pope considered Iraq war 'defeat for humanity'

Posted by: Semantic hair-splitter | Apr 4, 2005 2:55:49 PM | 45

@Obsequy, nice rant -- but again I suggest the good actions of many Americans around the world -- Peace Corps volunteers, peacekeepers, MsF workers, kids who go to stand with the Internationals in occupied Palestine and sometimes die for it, Americans who go to jail for protesting injustice worldwide -- don't change the power politics back at the core. all same with the Church imho. many Catholic people -- lay and ordained -- are doing fine, noble, altruistic, constructive things daily all over the world. doesn't change the power politics back home or the Church's history (at the leadership level) of conspiring with big business against labour, with battering husbands against their wives, with rapists against their victims, etc. we can, I think, separate the institution and its structural weaknesses from the sincerity and heroism of many of those who operate under its flag.

it would be difficult to do the calculus, to figure out whether the Church's many helpers and healers have saved more lives than have been brutally discarded by the Church's campaigns against condoms, against birth control, against women's civil liberties, against liberation theology, etc. what irks me is that the institution could abandon that calculus altogether and do nearly 100 percent good, rather than whimsically saving here and condemning there.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 4, 2005 2:58:36 PM | 46

How exciting, a right-wing Catholic shows up. But before writing trash like this:

"Well I guess that the death of a man who oversees an institution that is vehemently anti-war and anti-violence,..."

you should learn just a little bit about the actual history of that institution that's responsible for vast bloodshed throughout it's history. Insofar, as it's directly responsible for less bloodshed than nationstates now, it's only because it was forced out of that business due to it's own horrific record.

Just think, if there's anything left of the world in a few centuries, perhaps people will be able to say similar things about nation-states themselves now that even the military is being piratized!!!

Posted by: jj | Apr 4, 2005 3:21:01 PM | 47

Fascinating jj. Could you post us some links or other sources to show how the late pope was pro-war and violence? A few facts from you would be just the ticket to lay to rest any lingering notions that the dead man wasn't a war mongerer with blood-soaked hands.

We wouldn't want anyone to think that your evaluation was just an anachronistic rant would we?

Posted by: Not a Catholic | Apr 4, 2005 4:03:29 PM | 48

It seems that the main 'crime' of John Paul II, if some of the ahistorical and somewhat hysterical assessments being offered here are a guide, is that he wasn't the leader of some hypothetical Utopian political party. Hair-trigger homilies delivered at the drop of a papal ring aren't perhaps judgments that are based on any in-depth familiarity with the context of the man's position or any real familiarity with his life and writings. Still, who hasn't shot off his mouth in a bar sometimes? Such performances can be comforting as the onlookers reassure themselves with the knowledge that something, humility, lack of scholarship, an aversion to pontificating about pontiffs, an admission that rent-a-quote reactions are no real substitute for considered, informed analysis, wisely holds many of us back from ranting and raving and offering intemperate views devoid of any balanced critique of the subject of the tirade. Observing such performances one can discern a good deal about the baggage of the orators but a good deal less about the object of their invective.

Rant on, it gets all the bitterness out (vicariously).

Posted by: More vinegar | Apr 4, 2005 4:26:11 PM | 49

sly. moving from a declaration of an institution that is vehemently anti-war and anti-violence to the demand to show how the late pope was pro-war and violence.

Posted by: b real | Apr 4, 2005 4:36:44 PM | 50

don't be surprised b real - these anal -itic ideologues know nothing of the history they so authoritatively hold as a banner to hit us over the head with. i am simply surprised that this person manages to believe the church seems to have a monopoly on good works

thier principal crime is as someone here sd earlier is to annex the intimité of people's sacred experience & feed it into their inherently corrupt machine as is the case with nearly all monotheist religions

the do dishonour to the depth of wonder in ordinary people as they have always done & that is why i suggested their logical inheritors are the rupert murdochs of this world & not some cleric whose own sense of being was frail

there are people to be honoured in this world - the late pope is not one of them

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 4, 2005 4:46:24 PM | 51

O.K. b real, your homework assignment is to produce evidence that the Catholic church is not vehemently anti-war and anti-violence. If you can illustrate your answer with references to utterances from the late pope so much the better.

Note the use of the present tense 'is' and fashion your response accordingly.

It is ironic that one who is not a Catholic has to steer the more rabid commenters towards accuracy and balance.

Posted by: Not a Catholic | Apr 4, 2005 4:50:47 PM | 52


Your proofs please for claiming that anywhere have I said that, or indicated that I believed that, the Catholic church has a monopoly on good works.

You can score extra marks for showing how Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao et al brought out all that was wonderful in human nature.

Posted by: Not a Catholic | Apr 4, 2005 4:56:22 PM | 53

not a caholic

yor banalit does no service to your cause - whatever that may be

exercise - perhaps you should meditate a little on humility before you adress one & all like the poor professor from the blue angel

no doubt, you yourself are a kind of marlene dietrich

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 4, 2005 5:04:46 PM | 54

Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao et al

huh? you'd defend pol pot??

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 4, 2005 5:05:54 PM | 55

More vinegar said:

It seems that the main 'crime' of John Paul II, if some of the ahistorical and somewhat hysterical assessments being offered here are a guide, is that he wasn't the leader of some hypothetical Utopian political party.

They do seem to think they are one, however... an exclusive franchise representative for the divine here on the blue planet, according to their mission statement.

Posted by: JDMcKay | Apr 4, 2005 5:08:14 PM | 56

The Church, like any other institution, can be a force for healthy things. Fighting AIDS is a healthy thing to do, and every person on earth can do this healthy thing if taught how, and given the means and the encouragement to act on that teaching. Anyone, Catholic or Not a Catholic, can practice safe sex with condoms. It's not an exercise in intercontinental ballistic defense. But this last Pope? What were his thoughts about AIDS? To pray for the souls of those who've already contracted it? Yes indeed, folks: IF EVERYONE WOULD LIGHT JUST ONE LITTLE CANDLE, WHAT A BRIGHT, BRIGHT WORLD THIS WOULD BE!.......

Posted by: alabama | Apr 4, 2005 5:10:58 PM | 57


I'll take your reply as indicative of your inability to apologize for fabricating the views or positions of other posters and trying to use such fabrications as launch pads for more of your ranting.

Such behavior on your part is, of course, as ethical and accurate as your treatment of history. Vituperative comment is no substitute for scholarship, real scholarship.

As cliché man you are sans pareil. Your recent incarnations here include that of the generalizing 'all Americans are' 'all Australians are' and all Polish people are'. Equipped as you are with a blunderbuss it is little wonder that your far away targets so easily evade you.

Posted by: Not a Catholic | Apr 4, 2005 5:17:49 PM | 58


Not for a minute, but there are some who might suggest that he was just a well-meaning comrade who went a little astray.

Posted by: Not a Catholic | Apr 4, 2005 5:20:00 PM | 59

not a catholic

oh...sorry. Misread the post.

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 4, 2005 5:23:56 PM | 60

alabama has hit the hardest note - practically - as terry eagleton does - on aids in general & aids in third world countries in particular -the reign of this pope over the franchise during this period should indicate nothing but unending shame because their activity amounts to a crime

paranthetically - pol pot was & remained a devout buddhist of the theravada strain which taught detachment

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 4, 2005 5:24:53 PM | 61

not a catholic

i'll take your comments as a compliment because i am sure you are as removed from 'real' scholarship as you are from communication

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 4, 2005 5:28:18 PM | 62

Pol Pot Factor:

when a thread has descended into hopeless intellectual entropy with the declaration of pol pot's good buddhism.

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 4, 2005 5:33:42 PM | 63

Yea, verily thou believed that this thread was dead: but on the third day it rose again.....

Posted by: One more log | Apr 4, 2005 5:42:19 PM | 65

wow - homework assignment - so what am I to do?

Maybe think of a balanced piece on the issue which would of course stir the fire some more?

There are reasons why I laud Karol Wojtyla there are reasons why I dam him.

It´s fine to hear a political leader like him talk about an "unjust war" in Iraq, social systems etc. (see J. Cole elsewhere) but it is devastating to hear him suppressing birth control (condoms remind you, not abortion which might be discussable as "killing" a heap of cells within some believe concepts) knowing that in overcrowded areas this will inevitably lead to new further brutal wars and deny women their abilities and rights.

Yes some church folks do good deads, but the Catholic church organization has done terrible and does very bad if not terrible deads which do kill people.

The thing that always hits my moral point is hypocrisy. I can engage about anyone who has a system of basic reasonable believes and works to accomplish it. But I do not see that with the Catholic church (and most others). They sell a system of believe but the leaders and the organization do not live it, even disregard it and saying "unjust war" while praising "fuck the consequences when people fuck as long as they do it MY way" is hypocrysy to me.

From that viewpoint Karol Wojtyla has been another Straussian saying A doing B in hidden interest of widening the scope of his organization. Just another CEO of the rob your neighbour type.

A buddhist once said to me "You should never try to convert to buddhism because you can´t. You may meditate about it but its just not your culture. You will have to build your personal believe". He was right I think and I didn´t find any hypocrisy in that.

There is no "real" fast food of believe systems, even though a majority of people demand it and churches/ideologies and esp. the Catholic church claim to deliver it.


Posted by: b | Apr 4, 2005 5:43:06 PM | 66

The catholic church, for all the good that indivicual catholics have done, has not come to terms with the enlightenment to this very day, it has not owned up to its unholy ties with European colonial history, and it has officially not changed its deeply chauvinist and homophobic tendencies. It still claims a monopoly on truth (the one and only god, the one and only afterlife in heaven or hell).

Yes, catholics have done and are doing a lot of good things as we argue on this blog. But the power-hungry mean machine in Rome that so often strenuously looked the other way (the Nazis etc.) and which claims to be the keeper of sacred truths liked other religious power-structures do is a different thing. And this pope - surely we are all allowed to have an opinion about him without being given homework to do? - has given only very few signals to improve on any of that. He looked backward into the umpteenth century, not into the 21st. He may have been convinced that he was doing the right thing (infallible he was not, and he knew it), but many of the answers he gave marginalized the catholic church even more than it already was. He also probably knew that the day the catholic church turned rational, they could close it down. As to the hagiographic media circus about his death: I am not impressed.

Posted by: A Catholic | Apr 4, 2005 5:43:27 PM | 67


i am simply stating what phillp short describes in his biography - pol pot - the history of a nightmare -john murray - which has recently been released. it is something that ben kiernan also noted - when trying to explain the terrible distance pol pot took with his people

do you really presume in your schoolmarmish marxism that anybody could support pol pot then you are out of your cotton pickin mind. there have been several scholars who have tried to understand the descent of cambodia into savagery - anti vietnamese prejudice, ultra maoism etc but i believe the bombing of cambodia by nixon & kissinger had as much to do with construction of pol pot as anything that can be connected to his 'communism'

bit i do want to remind you that history is not a dinner party

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 4, 2005 5:44:48 PM | 68

schoolmarmish? It's a science, remember?

Read por marx again, 'althusserian.'

Posted by: slothrop | Apr 4, 2005 5:49:13 PM | 69

It's too bad Flash isn't around when all of the excitement happens!

Posted by: Jimmy Olsen | Apr 4, 2005 5:54:19 PM | 70


i have sd repeatedly here that there remains for me very few people untouched & there remained few exemplars - thos being mandela, guevara & weill -evn someone i had a great deal of respect for elie wiesel has become truly demential in the last few years & has made a circus of his suffering

if you like science - pol pot was historically determined & his madness & the madness of the khmer rouge did not fall from the heavens but was created from historical circumstances

but how you imagine i could even give support for such a figure is a little beyond me - i am a lot of things but a utopian isn't one of them

i have suggested a book here - témoins du futur by pierre bouretz - gallimard nrf essais - which does throw a certain light - on the nature of messianisme in our time & its historical, theoretical & theological roots

yes i find it schoolmarmish when trying to adjudicate on this or that historical moment as if there exists a historical hit parade

but speaking of theology - i turn very often to the works of robet johnson these days - whose songs stutter the silence that is in our hearts

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 4, 2005 6:00:24 PM | 71

Ah, it's always good to see the Church doing what it does best -- spreading peace, amity, charity and Christian goodfellowship :-)>A quick summary of the track record of this pope imho shows pretty clearly that he was, in terms of Vatican politics, a Maggie Thatcher or a Ronnie Reagan: a conservative hatchetman sent in to roll back an "excess of democracy" that was threatening to undermine the established hierarchy.

I was pleased with his condemnation of the Iraq war, but it was in essence a pro forma utterance as the Vatican was not being asked to send troops -- and it did not influence Catholic-majority Poland to refrain from doing so.

I suspect that rgiap's point about Pol Pot may have been more on-target than is being perceived. as with Bush, as with Blair, the profession of personal religious faith by secular, powerful leaders has little to do with the policies they enact in the real world.>some thoughts on what commitment to a real 'Culture of Life' might involve...

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 4, 2005 6:09:05 PM | 72

As Obsequy noted above, perhaps the good latent in the institution of the Catholic church was initially somewhat overlooked in the rush to put the boot into the late Polack.

History is never black or white and as a science it demands a degree of objectivity and the assessment of a variety of perspectives and sources that cannot be provided by the bitterly partisan. The reaction to any attempts here to examine the church or the role of the late pope in a broad historical context is a common enough one when those with particular axes will rush to grind them whatever the subject of debate.

It appears that the thread has moved slightly from 'the pope was a big bastard' to 'but some of the stuff his minions do is O.K.', a barely perceptible shift on the bitternessometer but a positive development nonetheless. Widening debate beyond narrow personal prejudices is always healthy and a considered assessment beats an intemperate outburst every time. We all know how painful and disappointing and un(re)productive premature ejaculation can be.

Incidentally, every time I throw in my line I seem to easily catch some kind of species of 'leftus antiquitus'. One would have thought such wily old creatures would have learned not to be hooked so easily but it seems they rise to the bait every time.

Posted by: Piscator | Apr 4, 2005 6:12:18 PM | 73


Posted by: advocātus diabolī | Apr 4, 2005 6:19:17 PM | 74

I also believe that Opus Dei is really, really, really, really sick, and that-to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare--"from the extremist upward of its head/ To the descent and dust below its foot," it's "a most toad-spotted traitor" to the just cause of the Roman Catholic faith. Now it's a fact that the late Pope wrapped himself up in Opus Dei the way the esquimaux are said to wrap themselves up in the furs of seals. He wore it, breathed it, thought it, and ingested it; Opus Dei did his policing for him. It runs the Vatican today--no more Jesuits to complain about!--and will run the Vatican for the next century or more. That's what this Pope will be famous for.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 4, 2005 6:33:40 PM | 75

alabama, you "also believe"? Nice move, that.

Posted by: teuton | Apr 4, 2005 6:41:41 PM | 76

thank you for understanding & returning the point to where it belongs. in this thread deanander, albama & theodor & blackie have been pertinent to the man & his deeds.

the apologist, or filter, or meanderer, or whatever it is they want to be form their haughty perch - the least of the things they are - is a scholar. there is not a crumb at their table except the casual cafe casuitry of the already condemned

would advise them to listen to robert johnson's 'hellhounds on my trail' or anything by jelly roll morton to hone their metaphysics

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 4, 2005 6:42:07 PM | 77

as jérôme would know the opus dei rests a force to be contended with in france - & it has done what it accused the communist party of doing except it has done it more efficiently. they remain a very powerful schism or sect here doing the dirty work of the church

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 4, 2005 6:45:27 PM | 78

Of course what is the most galling thing about the man is that he influenced more people, sold more books, sold more audio cassette tapes and CDs, spoke to more people, was and will be read by more people and will leave a greater historical legacy than any of us.

As Blind Gooseberry Willie Melancholy used to sing:

"I'm just a-sittin' here a-playin' ma jew's harp, singin' dem ol' impotent fuck-da-pope blues."

Oh yeah.

Posted by: The worm of envy | Apr 4, 2005 7:20:51 PM | 79


Enjoyed your vehemence and deep sarcasm; I really did. But surely you have to divorce the ideas of fairness, justice and cooperation from the cold and impersonal hierarchies of power in the Vatican. Also, I have enough faith in the basic humanity of people to be sure that they would do all those positive things in the service of other humans without the clouds of mysticism to wrap it in. We shouldn't subcribe the basic goodness of most people to the doctrines of religion. What this would mean is that without reliogion we would be nothing--which is precisely what Christianity tell us to keep the flock in line.

Posted by: Theodor | Apr 4, 2005 7:21:02 PM | 80

Well spotted Theodor. Just teasing out a few contradictions and nudging things in the direction of a more balanced and rounded appraisal. I'm not a Catholic, not a Christian, lapsed, drifted or any other variety. Just a shit-stirrer with a penchant for breadth and variety in the portions of vitriol served up as potted analysis. Between you and me, I could say some rather unpleasant things about Christians but that's for another day perhaps.

It's a dangerous thing to say but I'll say it anyway: "Mission accomplished."


Posted by: Obsequy | Apr 4, 2005 7:29:42 PM | 81

"Karol Jozef Wojtyl was to metaphysics what albert speer was to architecture"

Very good, RG.

Damned shame I missed most of the fun, Jimmy Olsen.

Having read this thread, it is amazing to me how ignorant those are "historically" who appoint themselves to a professorship in church history, and lecture all the "ignorati".

Read a few books, there , professor. The RC church has been a reactionary, oppressive force in the world since the 12th century. And it sure didn't improve itself with the latest pontiff.

Posted by: FlashHarry | Apr 4, 2005 7:46:11 PM | 82

Just a shit-stirrer with a penchant for breadth and variety...

and no attributable identity -- all these pseudonyms, sheesh. why not just follow the convention and sign as "Anonymous Coward" :-)

personally -- call it an idiosyncrasy -- I am inclined to take other people's opinions more seriously when they are willing to own them... anonymous graffiti somehow don't have the same heft, as if disavowed/devalued a priori by their own author. deniable utterances, tag and run... a shit-stirrer can be a lively addition to any bar but an anonymous shit-stirrer -- heckling from a dark and crowded corner or leaving unsigned notes -- may risk being classified by some naturalists as a subspecies of the hardy perennial Trollia...

'tis true that his late Holiness influenced mios more people than yr humble svt ever will -- but then so has Rush Limbaugh. I'm not exactly jittering with wannabe envy there, either.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 4, 2005 7:51:33 PM | 83

And so the thread collapses amid a welter of solemn appeals to toe the line vis a vis the white man's guide to ethical blog posting behavior. Rigorous criticism counts for nought, extremism amounting to a quasi-fascist Manichean 'if you're not with us, you're against us' hysteria erupts, slipshod scholarship and partisan pedantry roams freely across the page. Heaven forfend that anyone should point out that in the stampede to heap invective upon the dead anything approaching a cool contextual analysis might be absent or required. No, it behoves 'the regulars' to rally around one another and frantically try to beat off any interlopers who dare to suggest that some monologues could do with a little more polish and perspective. Thus the very blog itself becomes a mini example of the very beast its knights attempt to slay: an institution that will brook no criticism, that covers up the transgressions of its own, that retreats behind arcane 'rules' and seeks sanctuary in appeals to 'canon law' and even hints darkly at excommunication by ascribing 'troll' status after a hasty Star Chamber inquisition cobbles up some dark charge of possible heresy. If you won't play the white man then you'll be blackballed, do you hear?

How very droll.

Posted by: Fallen angel | Apr 4, 2005 8:49:03 PM | 84

Obsequy: Yes, it should be dismantled NOW. The Red Cross does most of what you described, and they run on a far lower budger than the Catholic church. Beside, they don't care if people aren't Catholics, and they don't try to convert them (if one of them tried, he would be sacked).
You know, many Germans thought Hitler did some good things for their country, despite the war and the Holocaust. In the Christian perspective, one sin and you're doomed. After you've sinned, it's not fellow humans admiring your good deeds that have the power to absolve you. I guess JP is having a nice chat with his boss right now.
As far as I'm concerned, I'm eagerly looking to toast wil some friends.

I've yet to decide if this fellow is Justin Raimondo, David Horowitz or Bjorn Staerk.
Our fellow may also look a bit about Rwanda. Catholic church at his finest, under JPII's guidance.

Now, let's get serious. If the Pope actually cared about some core issues, about the good of the people, there are some easy steps he could have made. Namely, he could have used the old weapon consisting to expel the worst offenders from the church. If the Pope was serious about war in Iraq, why didn't he excommunicate Aznar and Berlusconi? Or, since mafiosis seem to take so seriously their Catholic piety, why not threaten them with excommunication, unless they cease and repent their illegal and criminal ways? I mean, this would probably work to some extent in Sicily and probably Columbia, if seriously done, or it would just show these guys for the scum they are and the local plebes would turn away. But no, the only ones worth hammering are the left-leaning priests, those who defend the poor from the abuses of the rich Catholic elites.
There was so much that could have been done, and so ridiculously few that was actually done, when things went in the good direction - which wasn't that often.

"will leave a greater historical legacy than any of us." Yeah, and Mao, Stalin and Lenin sold more books than him (not to mention JK Rowling), which goes to show that quantity doesn't necessarily equals quality.
But, most to the point, when the universe will collapse under its own weight in 50bio years, this will be of interest to who ;)

RGiap: I'm sorry, but what you said was unfair for Speer, and I mean it. All these goons from Opus Dei and Doctrine of Faith are rank amateurs compared to Aquinas and his buddies, and they were already a dumbed down version of the ancient church Fathers, who still knew what thinking and philosophy was. Granted, they also knew what sophism was; but nowadays, sophism is all that's left, be it for religion or for neo-con politics.

"May the last king be hung with the bowels of the last priest"
Jean Meslier

Posted by: VilePsychoticJoe | Apr 4, 2005 8:52:59 PM | 85

Rigorous criticism counts for nought, extremism amounting to a quasi-fascist Manichean 'if you're not with us, you're against us' hysteria erupts, slipshod scholarship and partisan pedantry roams freely across the page. Heaven forfend that anyone should point out that in the stampede to heap invective upon the dead anything approaching a cool contextual analysis might be absent or required...

Sounds to me like>Scott Pakin must have released a new and more sophisticated version :-)

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 4, 2005 9:04:09 PM | 86

You still looking for a position in the Blog Swiss Guard, DeAnander? We could use a boy like you. Élites must be protected mustn't they?

Posted by: Torquemada | Apr 4, 2005 9:09:24 PM | 87

It's always the same when you come up against orthodoxy. The diehards who want to be the arbiters of truth, the guardians of the 'faith', the interpreters of meaning and the imposers of rules and regulations - they give you a devilish time of it. I'd rather be on the outside looking in than be on the inside and like them.

Here I stand, I can do no other.

Posted by: Martin Luther | Apr 4, 2005 9:16:57 PM | 88

I have had enough of The Pope! Before I begin, let me point out that I frequently talk about how The Pope's fixation with slimy fence-sitters is morbid. I would drop the subject, except that if you ever ask him to do something, you can bet that your request will get lost in the shuffle, unaddressed, ignored, and rebuffed. So who's crazy? I, or all the fatuitous schemers who believe that might makes right? Before you answer, let me point out that anyone who hasn't been living in a cave with his eyes shut and his ears plugged knows that certain facts are clear. For instance, he obscures the true meaning of his expositions with propaganda and fancy talk. Well, that's getting away from my main topic, which is that I can't possibly believe The Pope's claim that unfounded attacks on character, loads of hyperbole, and fallacious information are the best way to make a point. If someone can convince me otherwise, I'll eat my hat. Heck, I'll eat a whole closetful of hats. That's a pretty safe bet, because The Pope has commented that his vices are the only true virtues. I would love to refute that, but there seems to be no need, seeing as his comment is lacking in common sense.

The Pope needs to calm down and realize that as far as being drossy is concerned, none of his functionaries holds a candle to him, to put it mildly. He plans to rewrite and reword much of humanity's formative works to favor fanaticism. He has instructed his flunkies not to discuss this or even admit to his plan's existence. Obviously, The Pope knows he has something to hide.

It's good that you're reading this letter. It's good that you're listening to what I'm saying. But reading and listening aren't enough. You must also be willing to help me champion the force of goodness against the greed of misguided saboteurs. Forgive me, dear reader, but I must be so tactless as to remind you that his idiotic claim that some people deserve to feel safe while others do not is just that, an idiotic claim. The Pope does not merely undermine the current world order. He does so consciously, deliberately, willfully, and methodically. The primary weapons of The Pope's invidious, hideous satraps are lies and deception. May we never forget this if we are to deny The Pope and his understrappers a chance to transmogrify society's petty gripes and irrational fears into "issues" to be catered to.

Posted by: Groucho | Apr 4, 2005 9:17:04 PM | 89

De- wrote:
"I was pleased with his condemnation of the Iraq war, but it was in essence a pro forma utterance as the Vatican was not being asked to send troops -- and it did not influence Catholic-majority Poland to refrain from doing so."

Nor did it/he threaten to excommunicate or politically oppose any xUS politicians who supported the war, as it has threatened to do pro-choice politicians.

As for it's social/medical "good works", Hamas does that as well...the Black Panther party also...

The line about this pope's opposition to "Communist" Eastern Europe, is also much less than it appears, as he/it subsequently made clear their only problem was w/the fact that it denied the Pirates the Privilege of Stealing Everything not w/the fact that it was totalitarian. There never has been and probably never will be an institution as totalitarian as the Cath. Ch.

It would be very interesting to know what the Church's cut of the loot was after all the assets of Russia & Eastern Europe were effectively stolen & divvied up among contending elites. I expect it was considerable. Does anyone know anything about this?

I further suspect that's why it was convenient to put in an Eastern European pope last time - even though he was younger & hence stuck around longer than many in the Vatican would have preferred - to help keep the masses in line while the plunder was in progress.

Posted by: jj | Apr 4, 2005 9:21:10 PM | 90

I'm working on my seventh Harry Potter novel, 'Harry Potter proves that Pope John Paul II committed the Whitechapel murders'. If any of you readers have amusing anecdotes about the late pontiff's secret life as Jack the Ripper I'd be delighted to hear them.

Posted by: J. K. Rowling | Apr 4, 2005 9:30:54 PM | 91

Fallen angel,

It is in the nature of the blog medium. Incisive criticism, the off-the-top-of-the-head rant, the irony, the displays of temper, the mistakes, the untruths, the clumsy syntax and the beautiful prose are all elements of coming to digitally-provisional understandings of events, ideas and processes. You take what you need to learn (if that what you want to do); or you aim your fire at what you don't like (for whatever reason). You take it or leave it. It's semi-live, semi-network time stuff which we try to work through and develop or leave as half-finished. Ten years ago this medium and these exchanges would have been hard to do. Now we can, so why not be a a bit more generous and adventurous and get the benefits?

Posted by: Theodor | Apr 4, 2005 9:35:14 PM | 92


Posted by: | Apr 4, 2005 9:48:07 PM | 93

Last was me.

Posted by: Anselm of Canterbury | Apr 4, 2005 9:49:41 PM | 94

teuton, @ 6:41 p.m.: "in addition to some other things that I happen to believe, I believe also that...."; and/or: "I too, along with a few other folks, believe that....". Yes, teuton, you and I agree about this: syntax is an occasion for tidiness.

As for Opus Dei? I can only "also believe" something or other about it because it's a secret society, so that all public information about it is bad information, because "you can't know us unless you're one of us; and if you're one of us, then you don't divulge; and if you do divulge, then you're an unreliable character, and your testimony is tainted in advance".

Posted by: alabama | Apr 4, 2005 10:22:41 PM | 95

I believe these secret societies are quite, quite worthless, teuton, because none of their works can begin to match the violence they visit upon the spirit and simple working of democracy. They have the sole negative virtue of showing us what democracy is not: it's not opaque, and it's not a conspiracy.

Wojtyla was a weak man. Human, gifted, and not obviously revelling in the pleasures of cruel mastery--as does the pathetic and disgusting 43rd President of the United States--yet a weak man withal, and a man of small ambition. How small? Well, for one thing, he couldn't wait five minutes to recognize "Croatia" as it seceded from the former Yugoslavia. Now what the hell was that all about? Just what it's been about for the past two thousand years--namely the Roman ownership of the flatlands on the far side of the Adriatic. I ALSO BELIEVE, TEUTON, THAT THIS IS VERY, VERY BORING, AND VERY, VERY SMALL.

Posted by: alabama | Apr 4, 2005 10:23:13 PM | 96

I believe these secret societies are quite, quite worthless, teuton, because none of their works can begin to match the violence they visit upon the spirit and simple working of democracy. They have the sole negative virtue of showing us what democracy is not: it's not opaque, and it's not a conspiracy.

amen to that 'bama, and it applies to Skull and Bones and all the other little Secret Decoder Ring clubs imho -- right up to the self-consciously boyish "intelligence agencies" and their secret pranks and pratfalls.

Posted by: DeAnander | Apr 4, 2005 10:55:56 PM | 97

Some Reflections on the Recent Papacy of JPII - by Matthew Fox, Ph.D.

A pre-occupation with morality as sexual issues even when this morality is deeply flawed. I include the following examples:
--The forbidding of one billion Catholics world wide to practice birth control even while the human population explodes at the seams.
--The forbidding of the use of condoms even in a time when AIDS is killing individuals and whole populations the world over.
--The head-long pursuit of Augustine's theology of sexuality (all sex must be legitimized by having children)
--Ugly attacks in the pope's name against homosexuals and the complete ignoring of what science and professional psychological associations have learned about homosexuality (for example, that it is a natural phenomenon for 8-10% of any given human population as well as over 460 non-human species).

Other attacks include documents against yoga (yes!); against Buddhism (calling it "atheism"); against Thich Naht Hahn (calling him the "anti-Christ"); against feminist philosophers; against women (girls cannot serve at the altar; nor can women be priests); against theologians in general. Priests are forbidden to use the pronoun "she" for God at the altar.

and more....

Posted by: Fran | Apr 5, 2005 2:22:14 AM | 98

Looks like Groucho has found the only rant randomizer. Great tool, that :)
Meanwhile, Herr M. Luther may want to enlighten us about the evils of the god-killing Jews...

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Apr 5, 2005 4:25:07 AM | 99

It's interesting that this thread has managed to proceed for so long (even ignoring the troll of many faces) without mention of religion or belief. I've seen this before: your enemies are dehumanised by denying them any motive other than self-interest.

Maybe the Pope believed in his positions? Maybe he believed he was doing the right, if difficult, thing. Maybe he believed homosexual acts to be sinful. Maybe he believed these things as fervently as you believe the things that cause your outrage at his record. Hell, maybe he was a good man trapped in an ancient, confused, fucked-up set of beliefs struggling, and often failing to adapt them to the modern world. Or maybe, since he disagreed with us, he was an evil old man.

Posted by: Colman | Apr 5, 2005 4:40:54 AM | 100

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