Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Not even waiting until the Body is cold: Does W have any decency left?

The passing of Pope John Paul II has certainly become the biggest media story of this still young decade, and one with a uniquely global impact. Love him or despise him (and certainly there are many who fervently do both) there is no denying that This pope was a man who had enormous respect and influence worldwide.

Perhaps then it is no surprise that George W. and his merry men, who have neither in the international community, are trying desperately to co-opt his legacy now that he is no longer alive to defend himself. Still the speed and shamelessness with which they are moving is sickening to watch.

They haven't even waited until the body was completely cool, before turning him into a posthumous Republican and Bush supporter. Here's our ambassador to the Vatican on Fox News Sunday suddenly and conveniently claiming JP's private imprimatur on the Iraq war:

"Well, the last meeting I had with him was just a few weeks ago with my wife and
I in his apartment when I was getting ready to leave Rome. The discussion
he wanted to have that morning with me was about President Bush, who he admired
greatly for his value system, and what we in America wanted to do now with our
power, and the expression and use of this power that we had. And I was able to
tell him that we want to fulfill our number one goal of our foreign policy,
which is to enhance human dignity worldwide, which is the same goal that he had"

Really? the Pope admired his value system and his foreign policy?! You're sure about that?

Strange ,and just a little surprising, since back when he was actually alive and all, the Pope had this to say about the Iraq war:

`War cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common
good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict
conditions, without ignoring the consequences for the civilian population both
during and after the military operations.''
- Annual speech to Vatican
diplomatic corps as the Iraq war loomed, Jan. 13, 2003.

`When war,
as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is ever more urgent
to proclaim, with a strong and decisive voice, that only peace is the road to
follow to construct a more just and united society. Violence and arms can never
resolve the problems of men.'

- Address to television broadcaster Telepace
in first public remarks following start of Iraq war, March 22, 2003.

And the last time W visited ABCNews gave this account of their private meeting:

The pontiff used his sessions with Bush to emphasize his feelings about the
war in Iraq, to convey his repulsion about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S.
troops and to register his opposition to Bush's support for the death

Apparently that went in one ear and out the Other where W was concerned (not all that suprising really); and on the occassion of the Pope's death W gave a public statement that made him sound an awful lot like the Pope's pastor, rather than a world leader, who the Pope had recently admonished:

Laura and I join people across the Earth in mourning the passing of Pope
John Paul II. The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a
champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been
called home.

If you listen to the audio Bush takes special care to emphasize the word "freedom in that special clipped diction of his. He effectively transforms that transforms it from the ordinary "freedom" to Freedom(TM), the word he repeated 20-odd times in his inaugural address.
That word doesn't mean human liberty, and autonomy, but "my right to invade your country and destroy it , just so long as I let you vote for Prime Rubble Removal Minister afterwards".

Of all the things he could have called John Paul a champion of (social Justice, Compassion, PEACE) isn't it terribly convenient he picked the one that echoed his campaign themes?
It was bad enough listening to W parrot the phrase "Culture of Life" when his devout support of the death penalty, economic injustice, and his reckless rush to war made it clear he'd never read the famous encyclical beyond the dust jacket. But this Posthumous despoiling John Paul's Legacy and complexity before he's even decently interred in the ground is beyond the pale even in these crassly political times.

Wait did I say "beyond the Pale" and "crassly political"? You know this sounds an awful lot like the work of ....Yep. Karl Rove

President Bush has been making a concerted effort to win support among
Catholic voters. Mr. Bush's efforts are part of an overall drive by his chief
adviser, Karl Rove, to make inroads among typically Democratic groups of voters.

We've known for a long time that the Republicans had few morals and even fewer scruples, but robbing a corpse seems low even for them. John Paul II left no tangible earthly estate behind and has only his moral legacy to be remebered by. This is however, a poweful legacy that is influential to millions of Catholics and Christians worldwide. We should not let the other side claim his legacy as their own and pervert it to their ends. Many of us disagreed mightily with him on issues of private sexual morality, but is there anyone who disagrees with this sentiment?:

(from Evangelium Vitae the letter wherein he first used the phrase "culture of Life")

whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as
mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will
itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions,
arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women
and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are
treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons;
all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human
society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who
suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the


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