if there is a hell, Wojtyla had real reason to worry

cattalanNinthHour01a.jpg
Maurizio Cattalan La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour) 1999 carpet, glass, wax, paint as lifesize figure


The incredible fanatical scene which surrounded the death of Karol Wojtyla should be slowing down now that he's buried, but already the latest headlines ominously suggest that the next story will be his canonization. Do we care? Yes, because most of it is a big lie, it was invented by his contemporaries for evil purposes, and unlike its ostensible subject, this one's not going to die.

This pope had a lot of time to write and talk in more than twenty-five years of personal autocracy, and it's mostly all out there on record. Norman Birnbaum's piece, "An Ambiguous Papacy," in the newest Nation [the entire text is only available in the print edition or on-line to subscribers] argues that while some of this stern pontiff's lectures were directed toward enlightened ends like the critiques of war, capitalism and (eventually) capital punishment [all ultimately without any success], when it came to his appalling positions so dearly loved by the media, like those related to gender and sexuality, the man was a total disaster [an amazing success] for ordinary people all over the world, regardless of their sacramental status. His "culture of life" was empty, morally bankrupt, from the beginning.

He was an inflexible traditionalist in denying equality to women in church and society. He regarded homosexuals as sinners and so legitimized the most primitive of hatreds. These are not just matters of dogma. The Vatican's opposition to birth control programs contributes to the poverty of the Third World; its refusal to accept the use of condoms likely facilitated the spread of AIDS; its coalitions with Islamists in international bodies reinforced their capacity to deny rights to women.

Argument and experiment within the church, so creative under John XXIII, gave way to a personalized party line. The great alternative tradition of Catholicism, conciliar church government with the participation of the governed, was consigned to the history books. Theologian Father Hans K√ľng declared the papacy of John Paul II a monarchical nightmare. Often, the most engaged groups of the Catholic laity had to struggle with their own church for the right to carry its social doctrines into the public arena. The fate of the liberation theology movement is a striking example: In a continent desperate for justice, it was pronounced heretical--setting back reform of Latin American society a generation.

. . .

[In Europe, the] Christian [Roman Catholic] social parties have recently put their energies into an entirely symbolic campaign to write into the European constitution an affirmation of Europe's "Christian identity"--or into supporting anti-Muslim campaigns. In Italy itself, the Vatican and bishops have allied themselves with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a figure who hardly reminds us of Saint Francis.

The case of American Catholicism is especially disappointing. Our great social achievement, the development of an American welfare state, owes much to Catholic thinkers and organizations. . . . . Nevertheless the American Catholic Church--despite the Pope's opposition to the Iraq War, the Bush doctrines of global domination, and the sovereignty of the market--contributed to the defeat of John Kerry. Prominent cardinals and bishops instructed Catholics not to vote for him because of his views on the rights of homosexuals and women.

Too much was given to this man; the least we can do is stop now. This was more than a horrible waste of a life; his was responsible for wasting those of countless others, and the evil will continue for generations.

The shoes of the fisherman stink.


liturgical shoes of pope paul VI.jpg


[Cattalan image from artthrob; image of Pope Paul VI's red shoes from spiritrestoration]

BRAVP---FAR TOO MANY TEARS HAVE FALLEN FOR THIS MAN WHO ALBEIT WAS A GREAT ACTOR AND PROBABLY BELIEVED MUCH OF WHAT HE PROCLAIMED IN THE NAME OF THE ONLY TRUE GOD....HE STILL HAS PERSONALLY DONE MORE TO CREATE AND EXTEND THE AIDS PANDEMIC THAN ANY OTHER SINGLE PERSON IN THE WORLD NOT TO MENTION THE HOMOHPOBIA AND THE SUBSEQUENT MUGGINGS AND MURDERS THAT HE HAS CAUSED....ALL IN ALL A VERY MIXED MESSAGE...JEWS ARE OK BUT THE NAZIS WEEE RIGHT TO DO IN THE HOMO JEWS...GIVE ME A BREAK

BILL BARTMAN

The "Shoes of a Fisherman" flip flops are ludicrous. The unwelcome message in the sand is downright annoying, as well as being unsightly beach pollution. It is unlikely to convince a single nonbeliever to convert.

We city dwellers are bombarded with advertising in our daily lives. Going to the beach should be a chance to be in a relatively pristine environment unfettered with commercialism.

Religious people really would do well to learn some basic consideration, courtesy and civility.