Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The pope's senility setting in?

I don't mean to be blasphemous, but the pope's newest book is kinda freaky. CNN reports that the pope defined gay marriage, in his new book, 'Memory and Identity', as "a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man". What worries me is that, at least from the book reviews, no reasoning is postulated. What is it, I wonder, that makes gay marriage so threatening to the Catholic church? Why take on this issue so vehemently? I don't see the pope saying that divorce and adultery is "a new ideology of evil". But the pope does come down on abortion as well:

In at least two sections of the book, the Pope talks about the Nazi attempt to exterminate Jews and the wholesale slaughter of political opponents by Communist regimes after World War Two. In following paragraphs he says that legally elected parliaments in formerly totalitarian countries were today allowing what he called new forms of evil and new exterminations. "There is still, however a legal extermination of human beings who have been conceived but not yet born," he writes. "And this time we are talking about an extermination which has been allowed by nothing less than democratically elected parliaments where one normally hears appeals for the civil progress of society and all humanity," he writes.
The Catholic church has a right to its opinion, but what worries me is how many Americans will use the words of an 84 year old man to try to dictate American law. There is little scientific evidence that points to any one good line of demarcation as to when life begins, and frankly, I have a hard time compromising the rights of the mother over the rights of an unborn child. In a patriarchial system, it's too easy to abuse doctrine like that -- after all, traditional forms of oppression of women have always been defended under the guise of protecting baby-making function. Y'know, things like reducing a woman's worth to her ability to raise sons, as they did in China? What about a woman who has been raped -- should she be forced to carry her rapist's child? And at least in these paragraphs, the pope makes no mention of women whose lives are threatened by pregnancy. There are many reasons why this overly simplistic view of the world and the complex abortion issue simply do everyone else involved a disservice. I mean, really, the problem with mixing religion and politics is that most religions function on a basic precept of moral absolutism (a universal right or wrong): abortion is always a sin, the Catholic church is always right, when we know that the real world just doesn't work that way and law must be adapted to reflect the changing state of our society. A few years ago, the Catholic church was defending slavery -- I'm really not sure why we now have to consider what the pope has to say 'infallible'. But what really worries me about the pope's new book is his belief that there was some conspiracy involved in his assasination attempt.
In another section, the Pope describes at length the assassination attempt on May 13, 1981, when Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca shot and nearly killed him in St Peter's Square. Of Agca, the Pope writes the assassination attempt was "not his initiative, someone else masterminded it and someone else commissioned it." Two trials in the early 1980s failed to prove prosecutors' suspicions that Bulgaria's secret services had masterminded a plot to kill the Pope on behalf of the Soviet Union.
I mean, really, one of the first signs of mental disorder is paranoia. And while it's possible that more than one person was involved in the assasination attempt, it could not be proven. What evidence does he have, beyond wild speculation?


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