Monday, April 04, 2005

Being cruel to be kind: Pope John Paul II & the Children's Holocaust

When Pope John Paul II spoke out against the War on Iraq in 2003, I could have hugged him. Nowadays, everybody is against the War on Iraq but back then -- at a time when right-wing "Christians" were screaming for blood as loud as they possibly could -- coming out against that barbaric invasion meant taking a hugely heroic stance for pro-life. This was Christianity at its best; following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Although I would prefer not to speak ill of Pope John Paul II, I do in all fairness have to point out that this pope also has some pretty shady skeletons in his closet -- for having either caused or perpetuated the greatest catastrophe in living memory: The Children's Holocaust.

By coming out four-square AGAINST birth control, Pope John Paul II condemned millions of children to be born into conditions that he -- and everyone else on this planet -- knew for a fact could not possibly sustain them; conditions of poverty, starvation, abuse, disease, drought, war and exploitation (and I am not counting all the abortions that have resulted because, without birth control available, many women felt that they had no other choice but to abort fetuses that would have died of starvation or abuse if they HAD been brought to term).

By "going along" with the Church's edicts against birth control, Pope John Paul II did nothing to stop this holocaust -- similar to the way that Pope Pius XII "went along" with the powers-that-be during World War II. Perhaps in opposing the use of birth control, Pope John Paul II thought that he was expressing God's will or saving mankind from sinful lust or was being "cruel to be kind" -- but no matter what his reasons were, this pope helped to create and propagate the most extensively heartbreaking poverty that the world has ever seen.

One legacy of Pope John Paul II is his quest for world peace, but his other legacy can be found in the pathetic favilas of Latin America and the heart-breaking slums of Africa, India and Asia.

What could Pope John Paul II have done differently? He could have said, "The Church has no business poking its nose into the matter of birth control. The use of birth control is NOT a sin. And it is none of the Church's business."

This Pope tried to save lives in Iraq and I honor him so much for that. Let's hope that the next Pope will carry out this legacy of John Paul II -- and also be more open-minded when it comes to saving the lives of children.

And I can't just rag on Pope John Paul II without ragging on Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, etc. as well. Unsustainable population growth, no matter how religious its advocates claim to be, still direly threatens our planet. And God would NOT be happy about that.

PS: Did I ever tell you the story of how I became a Catholic? I come from a long line of Methodist ministers -- seven generations of them -- going back to Thomas Hooker and even probably all the way back to John Wesley himself. However. Every single Sunday of my life as a child, my mother forced me to sit through the world's most boring services at the Millbrae Community Methodist Church. If she thought that making me endure near-terminal boredom for 18 whole years would also turn me into a Methodist, she was wrong. As soon as I possibly could, I became a Catholic.

Catholics always had really cool things to do during their liturgies -- they had more whistles and bells. And then I discovered Byzantine Catholics; their entire liturgy was sung -- in English, Latin AND Greek. Plus they had incense too.

I love the Jewish and Muslim liturgies as well. And the African Methodist Episcopal services will knock your socks off. But the Tibetan Buddhists are the best. They have incense, bells, drums, chants and communion as part of the service -- and also give you free lunch!

Most of all, I love the brilliance and imagery and devotion that all religions have spent centuries perfecting in order to express their respect and honor and gratitude to the Creator of us all.

PPS: I also discovered the way to tie up and disable every airport in America: Have a snowstorm in Cleveland coincide with the daylight savings time change and the end of spring break! The George Bush International Airport hub in Houston was almost put totally out of commission! I know. I was there.

Last weekend we did everything humanly possible in New Orleans during 48 hours. Plantations, streetcars, jazz, muffulettas, beignets, gumbo, jambalaya, mint juleps, swamps, alligator wrestling, cemeteries, voodoo museums, fortune tellers in front of the cathedral, convents, Mardi Gras beads, mansions, The Projects, the blues, hoop skirts and protesting injustice to nurses!

Then, on the way home, we spent another 48 hours doing everything humanly possible regarding airplanes and airports: Shuttles, long lines, turbulence, homeland security body searches, bad pizza, in-flight movies, inter-terminal trams, sleeping in a chair, getting put up in hotels by airlines, lost tickets, flying 1000 miles out of our way to make a connection during spring break weekend and a snowstorm in Cleveland, key chains and T-shirts that read Salt Lake City, Houston and Portland, See's candy, standby lists, white courtesy telephones, luggage X-rays and getting bumped to First Class when nothing else was available (thank you, Continental Airlines!)

From "Amy goes to Alaska": "So. Amy," I said once we got home. "Which part of the trip did you like best?"

"The glaciers were retarded. I liked Bingo."

"What about the disco?" Amy had danced so hard at the disco she'd sprained her left knee and spent two days in a wheelchair. Not bad for a sixth grader.

"What I liked best about the trip to Alaska was the vanilla ice cream at the Vancouver airport."