Pope John Paul: His Legacy Of Bitterness
John Paul seems to have spent his entire term fighting against the winds of change; doing his best to reverse the steps forward that people are taking in the fields of human rights: The right of a woman to control her own body, the right to die with dignity, and the right to sexual individuality. Indirectly he has also been responsible for the continuing spread of sexually Transmitted Deceases, specifically H.I.V., with his intransigent stand on the distribution of condoms.(I've always thought that the people of Calcutta would have been better served with a few Planned parenthood offices then Mother Teresa and her ilk.)
In a patriarchal religion John Paul was known as the father and so it should be no surprise that a major hallmark of his term was the continued repression of women. Not only was he firm in his rejection of women as priests, but he was staunchly concervative when it came to birth control and a woman's right to control her own body. Between him, fundamental Muslims, and the Christian Right more has been done to turn the clock back to the middle ages for women then during any time since the rights of women became an issue.
In the past twenty years there has seen a steady acceptance of homosexuals in the mainstream. More and more countries have taken steps to enshrine their rights equal members of society. Here in Canada they have recently been given the right of marriage.(previously the rights of a survivor had already been recognized so that when one partner died the other was entitled to the same benefits that came to a heterosexual couple, the government treated them like any common law couple) Leading the battle against this were the social conservatives including the Catholic church. His Holiness sent a personal missive to our Prime Minister(a Catholic)asking him to preserve the integrity of the family(whatever that means) Thankfully the decsion wasn't up to our governments but the courts as it fell under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and they don't seem to be swayed by emotional blackmail.
As the human population learns how to perpetuate life, we are starting to create a new class of people, those who are living without having a life. We can now keep a body alive when it is dead; machines replacing the organs that have ceased to function. One hundred years ago these people would have died quietly and peacefully. Now they linger on in some kind of perverse limbo. But according to the Church and the Pope letting them go is a bad thing. Then there are the cases of the people living a long death. Those who suffer during the final six months of their lives needlessly because they are not allowed to be helped off this plane. When the Netherlands passed its very humane euthanasia law the Pope tried to interfere again by writing a letter to the government, who again chose to ignore him.
We live in a world so grossly overpopulated that we are fast running out of ways to feed ourselves. Famine and the decease associated with it are prevalent in a vast number of countries but the population continues to grow. Yet this did not seem to prevent the Pope from speaking out against birth control. Keep having those babies, make sure you baptize them, and its more little souls for God. Who cares if each new mouth to feed comes into this world for a short miserable time? Who cares that the parents can barely take care of themselves, let alone a child? You can always give the baby up to the tender care of a good Catholic orphanage where the priests will know how to take care of them. Just ask the survivors of the Mt. Cashell orphanage in Newfoundland, or young acolytes throughout New England about that love and nurturing.
The Catholic Church as an institution has a lot to answer for: its contribution to cultural genocide in North and South America; turning a blind eye to pedophilia around the world as practiced by its brethren; perpetuating famine and decease by its refusal to endorse birth control; and the continued oppression of the rights of women and gays. Pope John Paul did almost nothing to address those issues, in fact his efforts seemed primarily aimed at consolidating the church's power over people and denying rights where possible.
I once gave someone a piece of advice: When making a moral decision I wonder what John Paul and George W. Would do in those circumstances, and then do the direct opposite. I usually feely quite good about myself.