The last Pope could have done more to change the world
The passing of a Pope is not meant to engender a universal response such as we have witnessed recently. This response suggests to us that Pope John Paul II was a person for all people, and not the exclusive domain of Catholics. His numerous travels over a 25-year span to places difficult to locate on maps, but also to most seats of civilization, created bonds between he – the leader of the largest Christian community- and people of other religions and faiths. Now we must ask whether this love-in has been transmitted to the Church as a whole.
Without diminishing the importance of the remarkable conquest of human minds by his persona, we must also recognize that during his tenure as the principal voice of morality in the world, little was achieved in the settling of the political climate in Palestine, the most sacred of the world’s geography, the backyard of the Christ himself. No dissuasive rapport prevented George W. (for Warlord) Bush from decimating the people of Afghanistan and Iraq on a vendetta. Serbian Catholics were bent on the extinction of Kosovo Muslims until they were forcibly stopped. Priests, not many but too many, who celebrated Mass every morning and heard peoples’ confessions, perpetrated degenerate sins, and many hundreds of thousands of African children continued to perish from hunger and disease.
What could the Pope have done? Very little but he could have done more. He most certainly could have realigned his and the Church’s priorities. If he believed as does the Church, that non baptized children cannot go to heaven, how much more could he have done with the Church’s vast material wealth to help save those children? How much more influence could he have exercised worldwide by using the hammer of excommunication against unrepentant and persistent Catholic perpetrators of criminality, possibly reducing their influence in their closeted surroundings? As the world morality leader how much more insistence should he have exhibited in his disapproval of the American warring activities and their support of Palestine’s plunder? Could his timidity in these areas have had political ramifications, and if so, were these considered to be more important than their moral alternatives?
While all this was happening, the Church was intent on holding the line on abortions and the use of condoms. Could it not occur to them that there is a close connection between the two? Not only would the use of condoms help to negate the need for abortions in wealthier societies, but looking at it from their own religious perspective, could it not curb the creation of more children destined to perish unbaptized, as well as millions of A.I.D. victims also doomed to unbaptized death?
The Catholic Church is well intentioned and in the annals of history, no other organization has been more beneficial to human kind. They are a large slow moving organization, and in a modern world, many of their own constituents are forced to accept concepts and solutions which are not on the Church’s agenda for further review. This is a religion that is still struggling to determine whether the lesser sin is to murder or to divorce, and they would also have us believe that women should have been born as men if they were to be considered for equal status.
Popes are absolute rulers, and are democratically elected for as long as they manage to stay alive. They are, as we all are, subject to the afflictions and incapacities that nature reserves for the elderly, and for whom the past is the sole guardian of wisdom. Christ himself, died as a young man, but his ecclesiastic descendants judge that people of a younger age than themselves are not sufficiently mature to understand the values of Christianity. Perhaps if Christ were to offer his wisdom today, he might well disagree, and encourage Popes and Cardinals to take an early retirement, when it is clearly evident that their capacities have eroded and his interests would best be served by someone in the prime of life, not unlike his own selections to serve as Apostles.