Friday, April 01, 2005

Don't ask me how I feel

I haven't entirely discovered how I feel about the death of Pope John Paul II, but I think I'm approaching an understanding.

Yes, death brings grief and loss, and I am sure that the billion-plus Catholics around the world will keenly feel his death. But am I upset that he is dying? No - I think he is finally facing the fate he has inflicted on so many others, except with the top consultants in Rome at his bedside and with priests reading him Scripture. His life should not be mourned as the passing of a great humanitarian, rather the death of one who brought death to others.

We cannot consider the model of piety a man who has again and again banned the use of condoms for Catholics, causing countless unwanted pregnancies (of course, abortion is forbidden too) and hastening the spread of Aids. It is no surprise that there are now 42 million people (and growing horrifically) in Sub-Saharan Africa who have Aids, since to many of them (via their churches, heeding the Pope) condoms are forbidden. I would not argue that the Pope is entirely responsible for Aids - that would be facile and incorrect, since there is much evidence that cultural consideration also frown on condom use - but he has not helped; he has, in fact, made things much worse. The legacy of no other pope can be blamed: Aids was discovered in his papacy, and has spread in his papacy. If the Pope had taken a view which would help humanity rather than one which accorded with dogma and antediluvian doctrine, the problem might be less serious, less widespread.

When the news announcer said that "the Pope's closest aides were by his bed," finally I felt that his legacy had come home to him. Unfortunately, the Pope will be shielded from the mortal consequences of his actions by his mortality. You can feel sorry for the Pope and his death, but don't be blind to his actions, which have hurt so many.

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