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Sympathy for the 'devil'

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. (articles ) | Dec 16, 2003

A curial cardinal in Vatican didn't just plead for Saddam's life against the death penalty; he also castigated the US for its "mistreatment" of the Butcher of Baghdad. Cardinal Renato Martino called Saddam a tragic figure and criticized the videotaping of him by US forces.

Cardinal Martino said on Tuesday that the US "could have spared us these pictures".

"Seeing him like this, a man in his tragedy, despite all the heavy blame he bears, I had a sense of compassion for him," he told reporters.

The cardinal said the arrest was a "watershed" development but he hoped it would "not have... serious consequences".

A man in his tragedy? I can't believe this stuff. Saddam is a genocidal maniac who felt no compunction about having men, women, and children thrown into shredders and then watching the results on videotape for his entertainment. I don't understand this impulse to excuse what Saddam did to his people. Where was Cardinal Martino's soothing and compassionate words for the Iraqi man who spent 20 years hiding in a wall to keep away from Saddam's executioners? Where was his compassion for the Kurds of Halabjah who were brutally murdered with poison gas? Where was his compassion for the hundreds of women raped and then murdered by Saddam's sons? Where was his compassion for the hundreds of thousands of Shiites killed by Saddam after the 1991 uprising?

Yes, we are called to forgive, but we should not also forget, not should we show excessive pity and compassion to a man who is evil through and through. Pray for his conversion and repentance, but don't spit in the faces of his victims by weeping over some videotape of him disheveled and inconvenienced.

As the US official said in the story, the broadcast of Saddam's examination was to prove to Iraqis and the world that he was truly captured and that those fighting to return him to power should stop. I would think that Cardinal Martino would believe that it is a good thing to get the rebels to stop.

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  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Dec. 16, 2003 2:45 PM ET USA

    There's someone else who's rapidly becoming a truly tragic figure, and I don't mean the guy with the beard, head lice and bad teeth.

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