Wednesday, April 06, 2005

On the Pope

I haven't said much on the death of Pope John Paul II. My feelings on his legacy are mixed. I think he did a lot to highlight the plight of the poor and to call on rich nations to do something about those who are less fortunate in our midst. He was a model of forgiveness when he forgave the man who tried to assisinate him back in 1981. He stood against communism and helped in it's downfall in Europe. The are all good things and things the JPII should be remembered for.

But he also had a dark side. He seemed unwilling to even deal with the issue of homosexuality beyond what is considered traiditional Catholic teaching. One of his last opinions on sexual issues called gay marriage an "ideology of evil." It's hard to see my fellow gays who are in committed relationships as some kind of threat to the order of God. Then there was the clergy sex abuse scandal. As the issue raged her in America and in other countries, the Pope's response was pretty feeble. Here's Andrew Sullivan's take:

Under John Paul II (and his predecessors), the Roman Catholic church presided over the rape and molestation of thousands of children and teenagers. Under John Paul II, the church at first did all it could to protect its own and to impugn and threaten the victims of this abuse. Rome never acknowledged, let alone take responsibility for, the scale of the moral betrayal. I was staggered to see Cardinal Bernard Law holding press conferences in Rome this week, and appearing on television next to the man who announced the Pope's death. But that was the central reaction of the late Pope to this scandal: he sided with the perpetrators, because they were integral to his maintenance of power. When you hear about this Pope's compassion, his concern for the victims of society, his love of children, it's important to recall that when it came to walking the walk in his own life and with his own responsibility, he walked away. He all but ignored his church's violation of the most basic morality - that you don't use the prestige of the church to rape innocent children. Here was a man who lectured American married couples that they could not take the pill, who told committed gay couples that they were part of an "ideology of evil," but acquiesced and covered up the rape of minors. When truth met power, John Paul II chose truth. When truth met his power, John Paul II defended his own prerogatives at the expense of the innocent. Many have forgotten. That's not an option for the victims of this clerical criminality.

I have to agree. There has been much talk in the media about how John Paul loved the youth and I have no doubt that his affections for them were sincere. However, when the rubber met the road, he did not defend the children. Instead he protected the institution.

Another dark legacy is how John Paul's attitude has affected gays and gay Catholics in particluar. As a reader of Andrew Sullivan's blog and just a general fan, I've always appreciated his open talk of his faith. He remained a committed Catholic even though his church didn't approve because he always saw an opening for discussion and change. However, the clergy sex abuse scandal and the Vatican's assault on gays, has made him on of many "recovering Catholics" who have left the church. You have to wonder how many good Catholics who happened to be gay have left to join Protestant churches or just leave Christianity all together. I know many gay friends who are pretty happy John Paul died because of his unyeilding stances.

I don't see John Paul as some evil person and I'm not celebrating his death. He has done many good things. But we should not forget the darker legacy as well and should hope the next Pope will not repeat the same mistakes.

Of course these are just the rants of one Protestant, so take it for what it's worth.


Post a Comment

<< Home

!-- End .box -->