Friday, April 01, 2005

Catholic Bashing and the Pope

I've been sitting on this for more than a few weeks now, silent as I watched it continue to happen again and again, but now that all of the major news media is focused on the Pope and his impending passing, it seems all the more relevant.

Let's first get the disclaimers out of the way. FleshPresser is a Catholic. Now, to be fair, I'm an American, pro-choice, liberal, supports-gay-marriage, John Kerry Catholic.

A contradiction? Perhaps. But here's how I balance by spiritual and political beliefs. My faith, and the Catholic faith, is based on the Nicene Creed - this is largely where I base my faith. Do I agree with the man-made "rules" of the Catholic church? Largely, no. Does the Nicene Creed make mention of issues of choice, tolerance, women's equality within the church or anything else, relative to how I should formulate my beliefs? Nope.

This is where I become conflicted. A few weeks ago, as the Pope's health once again began to decline, a columnist for the New York Press wrote a piece entitled "THE 52 FUNNIEST THINGS ABOUT THE UPCOMING DEATH OF THE POPE." Rather than linking to a series of other examples of Pope bashing or Catholic bashing, suffice it to say that you can find more than sufficient examples by visiting Technorati or Google.

As a liberal Democrat, I look at much of the criticism of the Catholic Church, and I agree wholeheartedly. But as a liberal Democrat and a Catholic, I also look at the hypocrisy of my fellow liberals in making some of the cheap personal comments against the Pope or the Catholic Church. If any other religious leader would be attacked in the way that the Pope is, we liberal Democrats would be the first to jump up and defend the religious freedom of others around the world.

Am I saying that one should not rail against some of the POLICIES of the Catholic Church? Absolutely not. But think about Pope John Paul II for a moment:

Pope John Paul II, prior to his priesthood, was a founding member of an experimental theatre company called Rhapsodic Theatre, a group focused on the Polish language and text. At a time when only Germans were allowed to attend cultural events, and Poles could be shot for attending the theatre or for even speaking Polish in the wrong place, they were literally risking their lives for their art and their country. He wrote one of his teachers that he wanted to build "a theatre that will be a church where the national spirit will burn."

Pope John Paul II was the First Pope to make an official visit to a Synagogue. First to make an official visit to a Mosque. He fought for the rights of religious freedoms, demanding rights to build churches in Communist Poland. He fought to ordain priests to work underground in Czechoslovakia. He was fluent in eight languages. He was a clear and vocal opponent of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, and other wars. He was a lover of peace. He changed the face of the Catholic Church - appointed more religious leaders from Africa, South America and elsewhere than any other Pope prior.

While I have significant problems with the leadership of the Catholic Church on many, many different issues, I find that I also become strangely defensive when I hear attacks like this, in light of looking at the totality of the life that this man has led, and in light of the fact that there isn't even an ounce of respect that can be given even at the moment of death. For people who promote tolerance, and suggest that every person deserves an equal respect in our lives, I find this absence of respect very sad and ugly.

I guess now I know how it feels to be a Log Cabin Republican.

Posted by FleshPresser at 11:40 AM /


  • Blogger ModFab posted at 3:15 PM  
    I'm conflicted about it,'s awful to kick an old man when he's down. But the truly heinous, evil stuff he's said about women and gays, well..I'm having a hard time being sad about him shuffling off this mortal coil.

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