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Cardinal Law

I believe this headline from the Kansas City Star says it perfectly: “Disgraced Law celebrates Mass for pope”.

Over the past week, I have often found myself coming to the defense of Pope John Paul II on liberal blogs. While I am no big fan of the Roman Catholic Church (I’m too Baptist to like church hierarchy very much), I always had a certain amount of respect for the pope because of his feelings on many social issues. Although his views on gender issues and contraceptives were terrible, he worked hard to fight poverty and to oppose war. I thought that those stances were enough to redeem him.

Until I saw how exactly he reacted to the sexual abuse cases, especially those in the Boston archdiocese.

I did not follow the cases very closely when they first were brought to light. I’ve always had an aversion to stories about scandal, especially when they are blown up to the proportions that they tend to be when sex is involved. I did remember hearing about how the archbishop in Boston had covered up for some priests, and even moved them around from parish to parish, but I did not know what had become of the archbishop until this weekend, when I heard that he would be leading today’s funeral Mass.

The decisions to first make Bernard Law a Cardinal, then to allow him to lead a Mass for the late pope were incredibly insensitive to the feelings of the victims of the scandal. It shows a total lack of compassion — indeed, almost contempt — for those who were affected by the abusive priests and by Law’s actions. For someone who has long admired John Paul, it is totally unexplainable for me. I cannot understand how someone who seemed to have so much compassion for those in need could act with such callousness towards these victims.

Robert, aka randomliberal

12 thoughts on Cardinal Law

  1. Well, Law was a cardinal to start with, and being made chaplain of whatever that chapel is that he’s in charge of was a demotion. He is no longer in charge of a diocese, after all, and has no priests or, for that matter, members of the church under his authority.

    That being said, the reaction of the pope was of a piece with the reaction of the cardinal. Blaming the victims is an old old game in the catholic church and among christian in general, when it comes to sexual scandal.

    And I have to ask: how can you fight poverty while being opposed to contraception? how can you have compassion for those in and lie about the effectiveness of condoms against AIDS?

  2. To be fair to an inherently unfair organization, one must say that the Pope is actually, erm, dead. Therefore it isn’t his choice to have this pervert-enabler speak. (Or is it in his “infallible” will?)

  3. This was the final nail on the coffin for me.

    John Paul’s obsession with combatting communism led him to oppose the people who worked hardest on behalf of the poor and the disempowered. Law’s role in the funeral only confirms to me the insensitivity of this pontiff who felt it more important to defend the clergy and the ecclesiastic bureaucracy over all else.

    We can only hope and pray for a better successor.

  4. i’m curious as to what “work” exactly Mr. Pope did on behalf of the poor & against war? do you mean making some public pronouncements now & again while presiding over a Vatican that grew ever further to the right (if that’s even possible)? if that’s what makes for a champion of peace then why don’t we add Reagan to the roster while we’re at it? Popester may have made some declarations that sounded nice & socialjusticey but his actions & the policies of the Church during his reign bespeak a far different agenda & concern.

    i think Joel nailed it: Mr. Pope, like many others in power, was blinded by reactionary ideology to the actual needs of the world’s poor (among these being access to contraceptives & women’s liberation). can we fault him for it? you better fucking believe it. after all, we have him to thank for folks like Grand Inquisitor Naziboy Ratfucker & other Opus Dei psychos. given so many other amazing folk (even Catholic folk) out there who are actually working for peace & social justice i imagine you could probably find some good souls far more worthy of your defense & admiration (& who wouldn’t cause such cognitive dissonance).

    anyways, Popeboy is in heaven right now, being wined & dined by 72 busty young virgins, right? so he’s got no worries! wait… no. wrong religion. sorry Popey, alls you get is a dumb harp & a corner office i guess… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Jam, I agree that the pope wasn’t exactly a Mother Theresa: he mostly sat on his keister and spoke in Latin. But you have to understand that as an intellectual and spiritual leader, he has great sway. When John Paul II speaks out on the ills of capitalism, he’s not a Noam Chomsky. He’s (in Catholics’ eyes) damn near divine.

    I’m not defending him, certainly. I think he messed up considerably on the issues you mentioned and others, but give credit where credit is due.

  6. Not exactly a Mother Theresa? Well, that’s good, because MT opposed almost anything that gives human life its dignity. I can’t find it online right now, but I believe it was written by Hitchens (not someone I love either), but I want to refer to his article. In it, he points out, one of the reasons MTs people needed so much comfort to die, was she sent her charity denotions to the Vatican, rather than spennding them on the dying. She (like the pope) opposed anything that would reduce the poblems they felt in India, like birth control, womens rights…on and on.
    The thing I remember most about Cardinal Law, that most evil and dispicable of molester enablers, is that he knowingly put priests that had molested children in new parishs so that they could molest again. He (and his records which prove this) is one of the things that made people recognize that the ROMANS were doing this on purpose. And when the Boston Globe printed the unvarnished truth? He called “Gods” condemnation down on them (really, that is exactly what the did, during a press conference).
    When I think of the word Evil, men like John Wayne Gacy come to mind. And so do men like Cardinal Law. I can’t help it, but I storngly suspect that the Pope (you know the one who is ALWAYS right) must have some essentially sociopathic relation to those who would rape children (mainly boys here in the states, girls in Ireland, and nuns in Africa).
    But hey, nice guys all around.
    Sorry, must have gotten up on the wrong side of bed, why exactly don’t we recognize thier evil. Could it be those cute robes they wear?

  7. credit for what exactly? perhaps it might serve as useful fodder for propaganda (“Look, even the Pope criticizes capitalism!”) but i fail to see how it made a serious material difference in the world. whatever positive effects might have been obtained from such soundbites pales in comparison to the real suffering his policies & alliances ensured. in other words, whatever compassion he was able to express was completely overwhelmed by his steadfast authoritarianism & sexism.

    i guess i’m not willing to give credit when i doubt the sincerity of the message, not to mention the willingness & commitment to stand by one’s words. as i mentioned earlier, Ronnie Rocketboy Reagan talked alot about “freedom” & “prosperity” and looked really sincere when he did so. but that doesn’t mean i’m obliged to believe him or any other idiot in power.

    again, i’m more interested in giving credit to folks who do actual organizing & actually work for social justice as opposed to those who, as you put it, sit on their keisters.

  8. By that token, then, no philosopher or writer has ever enacted any worthy change. I’m not sure it follows. Believe me: I’m as atheistic as they come, but I can’t quite bring myself to dismiss the late pope completely.

  9. Heliologue, ain’t no one requiring you to dismiss the Popester. admire him all you like. but when you begin your response with telling me how “i have to understand… etc.” i’m going to probably respond by telling you that i feel my understanding of the issue is adequate & give you the reasons why. which i have done.

    you’re right, tho, about my keister comment. let me amend it.

    “again, iโ€™m more interested in giving credit to folks who do actual organizing & actually work for social justice as opposed to those who, as you put it, sit on their keisters issuing ideological commands based on religious authoritarianism.”

    how’s that? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. I usually don’t post here, but what the hell. I am what a good friend of mine likes to call a ‘recovering catholic.’ I don’t go to mass, I don’t really believe in god even, but I can’t quite get over the respect I was raised to have for the church and the pope in particular. Not necessarily the man, but the office.

    That said, I think the extreme reactions on both sides are a bit much. He wasn’t a saint and he wasn’t the devil. He was a man. He did some good and he did some bad. He also didn’t do some things that he could/should have, which is the worst of his sins in my opinion. Maybe I’m naive (I do get that a lot from people who know me), but while I think he was misguided, reactionary, and lots of other things, I also think that he tried to do what he felt was right. Again, in hindsight he could have done more/better, but the same could be said for all of us.

  11. Johnny asked: why exactly donโ€™t we recognize thier evil. Could it be those cute robes they wear?

    dude, it’s the hats. it’s all about the weird hats.

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