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The Pope

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  • The Pope

    From the looks of things the pope is about to 'kick it' in the next couple of days. I was just wondering if anyone here thinks that his death will bring about a liberalisation of the catholic church and a softening of their hard line moral stance about issues such as contraception.

    Here's a (fairly old) article illustrating the problem - as I see it.

    The Pope Spreads AIDS

    The Holy Father is responsible for the deaths of thousands

    By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 7th October 1999.

    The evidence stacking up against Pope Pius XII is compelling. The man who claimed to be the friend of the persecuted now emerges as an active Nazi collaborator. John Cornwell, a Catholic historian who had hoped to clear Pius’s name by examining the Vatican’s archive, has discovered instead that the pope helped Hitler to stamp out opposition in the German Church. He disbanded the Catholic Centre Party (one of Hitler’s main impediments), encouraged priests to “certify� converted Jews and helped persuade the Catholic Prime Minister to form an alliance with the Nazis. In response to these revelations, the Vatican, as if to prove that it inhabits another planet, has announced that it will proceed with its plans to declare Pope Pius XII a saint.

    But, close as Pius’s association with the Holocaust might have been, he is unlikely to have been directly responsible for as many deaths as the man who now sits in his place. John Paul II, the Holy Father and Angelic Shepherd, God’s representative on earth and the only living person who is officially and constitutionally infallible is a mass murderer.

    Every year the Pope kills tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable people by the simple expedient of forbidding Catholics to use condoms. While his imprecations are dismissed by most churchgoers in the First World as a load of papal bull, in countries in which there is little access to alternative sources of information and in which women have few rights, every papal decree against contraception sentences thousands to a lingering death.

    There’s no question that the Pope sympathises with the victims of AIDS. In Italy he has hugged AIDS patients in public. In San Francisco, he kissed an HIV-positive baby. He has urged sufferers to “feel Jesus at your side, and through your hope bear witness to the life-giving power of his Cross.� Unfortunately, however, he has exercised the power of the cross only to spread death.

    Teaching people about safe sex, the Vatican says, is “a dangerous and immoral policy based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against AIDS.� Sex education, “above all in relation to the spread of AIDS� is an “abuse�. In 1995, when a French bishop suggested that people infected with HIV should use condoms, the Pope promptly sacked him. Last month the Vatican used its seat at the UN General Assembly (where, preposterously, it has national status) to disrupt, yet again, the UN’s family planning and AIDS prevention programmes.

    There are 122 million Catholics in Africa. Whenever the Pope visits them he explains that the only acceptable form of family planning is strict sexual abstinence. He told the Nigerians that exploiting the poor and ignorant is “a crime against God’s work.� But every year he exploits the poor and ignorant by preaching against the condom.

    Many of Africa’s Catholic bishops know that the Pope’s position is absurd, and quietly, privately, they have tried to undermine it. But they are also keenly aware that, unlike dioceses in prosperous countries, they are almost entirely dependent on the Vatican for funding. They know that they and their churches will survive only if, in public, they do precisely as they are told. So in Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, some of the countries with the biggest AIDS problems on earth, prominent bishops have insisted that condoms should not be worn. Some, who share the Pope’s views, go further, and suggest that condoms spread AIDS by selectively leaking the virus.

    Every time the bishops speak out, they reverse years of awareness raising (often, paradoxically, by Catholic charities and local churches) about AIDS and how to prevent it. Men looking for an excuse to practice unsafe sex seize on the Church’s teachings. People who do use condoms deny it, ensuring that the safe sex message spreads more slowly than the disease.

    The Pope’s position reflects not only a fundamentalist interpretation of the laws of God. Like Pius XII, he insists on total political control. Autocratic, backward-looking, both popes have sheathed themselves in ecclesiatical mythology, an infallible barrier to impregnation by reality.

    The Vatican wants to celebrate the year 2000 by canonising Pius XII for helping the oppressed. A better way to mark the millennium would surely be the indictment of John Paul II for crimes against humanity.
    Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

    Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

  • #2
    I think his legacy is going to be further entrenching conservative ideals related to abortion and birth control into Catholic tradition. I don't think a pope without similar stances would or even could be selected by the Cardinals. I think those issues are lines in the sand.

    It is striking that one of the most visible and politically active Popes of the last
    several hundred years will be remembered as much for maintaining status quo as anything else.

    Comment


    • #3
      Speaking as a fairly skeptical ex-Catholic, I fear that Doc is right. After the reforms in the Church in the '60s -- reforms that looked very promising at the time -- we're back in Counter-Reformation mode, where I would guess we'll stay for quite a while.

      At this point, one wonders to what degree the Papacy has reached irrelevant status.

      LSN

      Comment


      • #4
        Actually that wasn't the exact article I was looking for - I posted the topic in a hurry before I left for work.

        The other article was talking about the story a year or two ago where the catholic church came out with supposed scientific 'proof' that condoms were not effective against HIV. In actual fact, the 'research' was more pseudo scientific in nature, intended for the express purpose of scaring people out of using them.

        (Of course the fact that they have to do this suggests to me that the Catholic church does not trust its own followers to follow its doctrine).

        The effect this has had on the catholics in Africa where HIV/AIDS is rampant, and the pope's (and by association, the catholic church) ambivalence towards HIV/AIDS is extremely disturbing. Check this out:

        http://www.condoms4life.org/facts/lesserEvil.htm

        I'm not really sure what I'm hoping for with the next pope - I guess a more healthy and balanced approach to controversial issues and less of the fire and brimstone. If only the church were to evolve and not remain mired in mediaeval conceptions of morality I think we'd all be better off. That's wishing I guess - the same article I read said that during his tenure, JP2 had appointed 96% of the cardinals in his inner circle, effectively choosing his own successor.
        Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

        Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by L_Stearns_Newburg
          At this point, one wonders to what degree the Papacy has reached irrelevant status.

          LSN
          If we are to base our conclusions on current news coverage, the Pope is only relevant when he is about to die.

          Comment


          • #6
            I wish it were so. As I have travelled in Latin America a lot I must say that he was just too awfully relevant there, and in other deeply Catholic countries as well. I don't know if contraception is available in Eire by now; for long it wasn't. And in these countries I travelled to I saw a lot of misery that in part is due to the papal prohibition of the use of contraceptives ... as means of birth control and as protection against AIDS. And whenever a priest stood up against the oligarchs or military dictators THIS pope didn't support them (unlike the Polish priests during the Communist era). BUT you should just see the eyes of most people light up when they recall a visit of the Pope to their country! They are so proud and feel blessed. I come to suspect that in all his conservatism and complete refusal to even discuss things, I think he was a firm rock of stability for many, many people in an ever-faster changing, ever more incomprehendable world in which one witnesses a daily erosion of values (while, for instance, the Pope congratulated Dictator Pinochet for his 50th wedding anniversary - another act I hated him for).
            If you were in continental Europe today, as I am, you'd sense a gigantic feeling of awe among people. They gather in churches and places (not only in Rome!) and pray for their Pope John Paul II. He's a mighty stubborn, but charismatic character around whom hundred thousands flock just this minute, because there's something they don't want give up ...
            This is something different than the Michael Jackson Trial ...
            Google ergo sum

            Comment


            • #7
              That's more than a little bit scary. Thanks for the perspective from Europe, L'E.

              Of course, here in the U.S., people who have that charismatic and religious effect on others are elected to high offices...

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Doc
                Of course, here in the U.S., people who have that charismatic and religious effect on others are elected to high offices...
                Which is even more frightening, I'd say
                The advantage of a pope is he needn't adapt to what the electorate thinks or feels. The advantage being in predictability and an awsome stability. Look how many changes occurred in the world since Karol Vojtila became Pope! And he stayed his course all along.

                And I bet you he has put in place a lot of just as conservative bishops from among whom his successor will emerge. Continuity, and it seems to work!
                Google ergo sum

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by LEtranger
                  The advantage of a pope is he needn't adapt to what the electorate thinks or feels.
                  Nor does a certain second-term President of the U.S.

                  Originally posted by LEtranger
                  The advantage being in predictability and an awsome stability. Look how many changes occurred in the world since Karol Vojtila became Pope! And he stayed his course all along.

                  And I bet you he has put in place a lot of just as conservative bishops from among whom his successor will emerge. Continuity, and it seems to work!
                  That is the real issue, of course. I think John Paul II's work will keep the Catholic church stuck in 1985 until about 2085.

                  It is becoming increasingly clear that maintaining power depends on a powerful ability to ignore the world outside of the bubble of power, as wel as a keen ability to convince your followers to do the same. Some people become heroes for their myopic paradigms.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Doc
                    Originally posted by LEtranger
                    And I bet you he has put in place a lot of just as conservative bishops from among whom his successor will emerge. Continuity, and it seems to work!
                    That is the real issue, of course. I think John Paul II's work will keep the Catholic church stuck in 1985 until about 2085.

                    It is becoming increasingly clear that maintaining power depends on a powerful ability to ignore the world outside of the bubble of power, as well as a keen ability to convince your followers to do the same. Some people become heroes for their myopic paradigms.
                    I sooo agree!
                    Google ergo sum

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well he's snuffed it now.
                      Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

                      Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I found it odd watching all the nuns and people in tears outside the Vatican. Surely if their faith was genuine, the Pope's passing would be a joyous occasion - who else has a better ticket to Heaven!

                        What sticks in my mind is the word "Silencio!" he roared at the crowd during his visit to Nicaragua in the Sandinista era. I reckon we're due for an African pope next - Zimbabwe?
                        \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          What sticks in my mind is the word "Silencio!" he roared at the crowd during his visit to Nicaragua in the Sandinista era. I reckon we're due for an African pope next - Zimbabwe?
                          How about a gay pope?
                          Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

                          Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by devilchicken
                            How about a gay pope?
                            Well, an openly gay pope would be a first. :lol:

                            I'd like a giant robot pope with laser eyes.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'd like a giant robot pope with laser eyes.
                              How about - a black female lesbian pope with laser beam eyes?

                              Perhaps I could get 10,000 : 1 odds on that at William Hill.
                              Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

                              Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

                              Comment

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