Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pope bows down to Bush, and we all feel a little dirtier

Pope Benedict XVI continues to impress with his ability to stand up for the status quo, embrace the powerful, and dismiss the oppressed. He's certainly filling the shoes of St. Peter quite nobly (please insert sarcastic tone).

The Pope met with Emperor George W yesterday at the Vatican, and there was no need to flip a coin to see who would kiss the other's ring first. Benny already had his lips pursed.

Below is an excerpt from the Washington Post story on the meeting (and the link to the full text, as always). I picked three paragraphs that I found particularly insightful.

First, there's the narrowly focused bit about being concerned for Christians in Iraq. Granted he is a Christian leader, but shouldn't a truly religious man concern himself with the well-being of all people regardless of race or creed? Innocents are dying in Iraq and that should be the operative issue, no matter where they line up for services. I'm not a Biblical scholar by any means, but the Gospel stories I recall from my Catholic upbringing certainly depicted Jesus taking unto himself the poor, sick and downtrodden — and he didn't inquire as to their particular religious beliefs before helping them. Of course, there were no Christians then, per se.

Second, there is the exhibition of extreme bravery in making nice with a leader whose pursuit of war you've previously questioned. It points out the political nature of the Vatican — it's not just about faith and morality, and of course never has been. Does anyone really buy the "Just War" theory on Iraq anymore? Is the naked pursuit of geo-political advantage through open aggression something that Jesus blessed in his short time on earth? I guess I missed that sermon.

Finally, to top off my Sunday with a cherry, there is the wonderful juxtaposition of the Pope bowing down before the Emperor as the Bush administration is accused of overseeing human rights violations through rendition and torture. George did boast about the nickel he tossed in Africa's collection plate during the G8 summit. He forgot to bring up his sin of omission on climate change, however. The Pope may want to take confession after this particularly dirty little visit, or atleast undergo a thorough scrubbing — the body is much easier to clean than the soul. His opinions on doctrinal questions may be considered infallible, but he certainly errs in the company he chooses to keep.

Pope Tells Bush of His Concern About Safety of Iraq's Christians
By Michael A. Fletcher

President Bush met Saturday for the first time with Pope Benedict XVI, who the Vatican said expressed concern about "the worrying situation in Iraq," especially the deteriorating plight of Christians there. ...

The Vatican has been critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, but both sides said they did not dwell on those differences Saturday. ...

Just before Bush arrived in Rome on Friday, a court in the northern Italian city of Milan opened the trial of 26 Americans who Italian prosecutors say are CIA operatives who kidnapped an Egyptian cleric in 2003 in Milan and sent him to Egypt. None of the Americans has come to Italy for the trial, which has become a point of friction between the United States and Italy.

Read the full article
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