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The Pope's Funeral

Letter Sent to Salon.com re: The Bully Pope
To autocrat and bully, Colman McCarthy should have added “murderer.” Pope John Paul II, with his conservative stance against contraception, has sentenced tens of thousands in Africa and elsewhere to death in the age of HIV. This fact alone nullifies any good that may have come out of the pope’s role in the collapse of communism.

But McCarthy gets it wrong when he laments that the Catholic Church is not a “peace” church. While avoiding war is a worthy goal, the doctrine of the “just war” is probably the most defensible church position. Few would dispute that dictatorship, genocide, and slavery are war’s moral equivalent. During the last few centuries, wars have stopped many great injustices. Categorical opposition to war is equivalent to condemning large portions of the world’s population to permanent repression. It’s too bad though that the Church would be more likely to back a religious war than any war of liberation.

While watching the pope’s funeral, the tremendous sadness that swept me was not for the loss of a great man, but rather for the enormous influence his atavistic institution still holds over the world’s people. While the spirit of unity was undeniable, it’s a shame that the Church had to be the catalyst.

It would be a joyous moment if the world could unite just as strongly under the banner of humanity. I dream of a world where human nature is celebrated and not reviled, and people feel deep confidence in themselves–rather than the need for so-called spiritual leadership.


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