Juan has a good write-up today on the passing of the Pope. (I knew he would; it was one of the first things I checked this morning.) I also watched the re-run of the Frontline program about John Paul., and was quite touched by it. While liberals would get irritated at him for his stance on birth control, abortion, women in the priesthood, etc. (In my forthcoming article on women's exclusion in the Baha'i Faith, I note the striking parallels between his position and that of the UHJ. They are virtually identical.) But there's no doubt he did much to advance religious tolerance, and he was a strong voice for peace and human rights. That's the things that our Protestant conservatives so often miss about the message of Jesus -- the care and compassion for "the least of these". According to the gospel, it is this that separates the "sheep from the goats"; if you don't have that, then you can't pretend to be "saved". Don't believe me? Go look it up. Matthew 25:31-46.
At least John Paul was consistent in his promotion of the value of human life -- not only concerned about the unborn , but the condemned murderer, the starving, the oppressed, and those slaughtered on the battlefield. And he used the immense prestige and charisma of his office to speak out on behalf of "the least of these." May he rest in peace with the Lord he served so well.
John Paul II gave a tremendous contribute to interfaith dialogue. It is something that we, bahá'ís, are claiming since the beginning of our religion ("Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship"). But due to his world media exposure he manage to gave interfaith dialogue an enormous boost. Let us hope God will help his successor to follow this same path and go even further.
Where I live there is allot of respect for John Paul II among people who are not even Roman Catholics. Even among people who are not even "religious" at all! I heard some very nice comments about him. He tried to reach out to people. People respect that. He apologized for the mistakes and injustices of the past. That is the most basic thing everyone can do to try to improve the world. He was a good man.
Matthew 25:31-46 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
NIV at IBS International Bible Society NIV at Zondervan Zondervan
The Sheep and the Goats
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I know that its not politically correct to say anything bad about the Pope (especially now that he's dead) but I always found him creepy. Yes, when he was alive, nevermind when he's pickled and dressed in robes and paraded down the street.
I just think there's something really creepy about someone who has come to fully believe that they are sitting on the throne of Peter and can make pronouncements and decisions which affect millions of people around the world. And do so with infallibility.
The whole Vatican, the Church hierarchy, ceremonies, rituals, etc. were all human contributions to the Christian Faith but they have somehow supplanted the core teachings. So much so that the Pope can, with a straight face, say things like, condoms help the spread of AIDS.
If you recall, just before he died the Pope recalled the Spanish Cardinals and threw the book (or was it the Book) at them. They hastily issued another press release reversing their previous one and toed the party (Vatican) line.
Did he ever think of the millions of people who are now suffering from this disease because of his stance?
I predict in around 500 years - catholic time - the Church will issue an official apology to those victims (just as it did to Galileo).
Yes, the Pope's response to AIDS was disappointing. However, I think it is tied in to the general anti-sexuality stance of the Catholic church as a whole, which influences its policy on birth control and abortion as well.
I don't believe that the Catholic hierarchy really wants more AIDS victims or even for the poor to be further empoverished by more children. But it doesn't want to deal with the reality of human sexuality. They want people to be saints, to only have sex when they are willing to reproduce, but life doesn't work that way. They aren't willing to compromise the ideal for the sake of practicality.
They want to fight AIDS through chastity -- an attitude not unique to Catholicism. It is shared by the Baha'i administration as well. An article submitted to *Dialogue* was censored for that reason -- and it was included in a letter to the editors about what was "wrong" with that magazine. The article apparently implied that simply preaching chastity was to stick our heads in the sand, and the UHJ disapproved.
As a gay man, I found no friend in the Pope. He perpetuated hate crimes against gays by his unyielding stand against homosexuality -- and thereby condemned millions of people worldwide to lives of misery and self hatred. I do not mourn his death more than any other of thousands or million who died that died -- some under horrible conditions but who we never will hear about. The pope is like most powerful and rich people -- self serving and playing the role. He did nothing special. Millions of Catholics around the world remain in abject poverty and what does the church or the Pope really do? Where was the Pope when Irish Catholics were acting as terrorists. There's a holy war being waged in the world right now in the name of the Christian God, and where is the Pope? Honestly, I've seen more good honest deeds done by the janitor who cleans my office every day than I saw from this Pope. He had everything. He did nothing. He had a position of privilege which he used to keep power and retain old and outdated ideas that are holding back the progress of humanity. People like the Pope, George Bush should be hauled in front of a judge and held accountable for the death and misery they have inspired. They are truly war criminals and deserve no respect whatsoever.
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