[quote]Amid all the hoopla over the passing of an 84 year-old man of enormous privilege who did more to keep the messed-up world exactly trhe way it is that to change it...[/quote]Jaf, I share much in your previous critique of the Pope, but I also think that your jugment is way too harsh. The Pope, in fact, was an agent of great change in the world, though certainly not in all of its aspects. He was much more worldy in his global outlook than "European". He promoted peace and demanded change. Case in point: HAITI (where he was the only pope ever to go, and where his words truly resonated, when he asked for CHANGE, leading to the expansion of the liberationist movement in our country. He promoted World Peace. He clearly expressed his opposition to Gulf War I and Gulf War II, though not as forcefully that I would have truly liked it. He apologized for
the Anti-Semitism of the Church during World War II. I am extremely disappointed that he did not also apologize for the behavior of the Church in its support of slavery during the colonization of America, over three centuries. He visited the poor, and strongly condemned materialism. I know that you will likely lead us into an exposé of the Church's own flirtation with materialism to this day, and I will second you in that critique which must be made.
He also stuck to his principles, and there is certainly something to be said for that. He refused to give his blessings to the use of condoms, and as a result millions of the Church's faithful followers have died unnecessarily. However, I may be so far the only person I know to not blame the Pope, as a person, for the deaths of those Africans, even though I fully support the widest use of condoms in the fight against AIDS. You may see a contradiction in my stance, but I have fully resolved it in my own mind. I cannot bl
ame the Pope, as a person, for his outdated and dangerous belief that the sexual act makes sense in God's eyes only for procreation, and that as soon as you take ANY measure (other than abstinence) to prevent procreation, you go against THE PLAN OF GOD. Don't misunderstand me: to me, that is a crazy belief and I blame the Church as an Institution for propagating it for ages. True, Jean-Paul II was the Head of the Catholic Church. But all the popes that preceded him, and likely many of the popes that will follow him, will stumble into the same rigidity and stupid mind control that will lead the world to great disasters, if people do not learn to think independently of the Church's teachings. I could as easily blame the people who listen to the Church in the first place. But I happen to think that John Paul II was sincere in his belief that condoms should not be used, and he was consistent in the expression of his belief. I, for one, respect that in a man. One can be terribl
y misguided, and we probably all are misguided in one respect or another. However, there is in my eyes a huge difference between someone who preaches "the truth as he sees it" and someone who fakes the truth out of malice or crass selfishness.
The bottom line is, as far as I am concerned, people should stop looking to the Church as the only purveyor of wisdom, especially when the wisdom that is dispensed is deemed infallible or DOGMA. I know full well that my intelligence is limited as a human being. But I have long ago decided to use my own intelligence to guide me, failing where I may, standing up again when I must. And I do not need somebody dispensing the word of God to me.
But going back to your statement, Jaf, my problem with it is that it is particularly one-sided. I am uncomfortable with that. It reminds me all too much of our political infighting in Haiti, where one politician is deemed personally responsible for all the ills that have ever afflicted his country at any point in t
ime. Others would have that same politician blameless and above all reproach.
I think that the biggest favor we can do ourselves is to recognize that each one of us is a package of good and bad. Let's examine both, and condemn the bad for what it is. But let us not close our eyes either to the good in anyone, or to the full measure of their passing on this earth.
We should all hope that the same courtesy will be extended to us. However, it's not simply a matter of courtesy. It's an essential part of Learning for the Future, so we will be empowered to emulate the good and avoid the bad.
Thanks, by the way, for the powerful thoughts about Martin Luther King and the system that eliminated him.
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