Action Alert!

the pope as assassin

By Diogenes (articles) | Sep 05, 2006

The city of Paris renamed the plaza outside of Notre Dame Cathedral after Pope John Paul II and the AZT-for-Lunch Bunch is livid.

Among the groups whose members turned up on Sunday to protest the French capital's official honoring of the late pope: Act Up - Paris, the Pink Panthers, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Secularism-Ecology Association. Some handed out flyers denouncing the proceedings. Sharply criticizing the mayor, some called out: "Delanoƫ is honoring an assassin!" A statement issued by the gay-and-lesbian activist group the Pink Panthers linked the "words and actions" of John-Paul II with "a far-right fringe of the Catholic Church that is overtly reactionary, sexist, homophobic [and] anti-Semitic."

In what way was Pope John Paul an assassin? Follow me closely here: Believing that human beings are endowed with free will, the Pope insisted that they are able to choose not to sin. Confronted with the fact that one particular sin exposes the sinner to, and transmits, a lethal illness, he repeated the teaching of the Church that the answer was, not to choose to sin safely, to but choose not to sin at all. Yet many people made the choice contrary to the one the Pope counseled, and died. Ergo, he murdered them.

Clear?

The view of the human person Mark Steyn calls the "dogs in heat" model has, in many quarters (including some episcopal quarters), eclipsed the Catholic view. The result is an odd reconfiguration of the notion of responsibility. After all, getting AIDS is not like coming down with the flu; it takes exceptional effort to act so as to expose oneself to infection, and, conversely, avoiding AIDS is simplicity itself. Not getting boffed by a diseased ranger is as easy as not winning the Cy Young award. Almost anybody can do it.

True, there are those rare few who have the kind of slider that puts them at risk of the latter accomplishment or who inhabit the kind of cellblock that the puts them at risk of the former, but the rest of mankind finds the requisite "failure to act" eminently doable. You need a lot of adverb-bending to make an assassin out of a condom-discountenancer.

Yet even within their own reconstituted moral universe the Pope's critics are disappointingly inconsistent. Perhaps I missed it, but I don't remember their naming Bill Clinton a murderer for failing to issue wife-beaters with rubber crowbars. That makes one wonder whether their anger proceeds from moral indignation after all. It's a point I've made before: other institutions are held responsible for hardships resulting from obedience to their teachings; the Church is held responsible for hardships resulting from defiance of hers.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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