Now that Pope John Paul II has died, the world is falling over itself to make this man the greatest living being in modern history.
There is no debate whatsoever, that this Pope has been the most prolific and successful Pope in modern history. His legacy must be that he did more to promote the Vatican during very troubling times than any Pope in (recent) memory.
But what about his affect on humanity?
During the reign of Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church has not lessened its misogynist policies that sees women as unequal to men in the eyes of God as the Vatican perceives the eyes of God to be.
Even though the Church declares that God sees all of “His” children in an equal light, the Vatican still disallows Gays and Lesbians to enjoy same gender marriages, as if these gender groups are somehow pariahs to the will of God.
Aids is rampant in parts of the world where the Catholic Church is most prominent in terms of control and growth, specifically in Africa, yet, this Pope continued to forbid the use of condoms which is the best way of controlling the spread of aids next to sexual abstinence.
Scientists on both sides of the political spectrum agree that the earth has been irreparably damaged due to the many forces of man. But no force of humanity is greater than over population. Yet, Pope John Paul II has continued to make it a sin to practice birth control.
On the issue of birth control. What about unwanted pregnancies?
Pope John Paul II declared the continued absolute ban on abortions. Yet the Church does not come forward to provide answers, alternatives or outstanding care for unwanted children, of which there are hundreds of millions worldwide.
The closest the Church came to caring for unwanted children was in orphanages which turned out to be houses of horrors where children were repeatedly raped by priests.
It is indeed probable that the culture of pedophilia (child rape) amongst Priests was (is) more of a silent policy than an aberration, especially when one sees how pitifully the Church handled the many pedophiles under the rule of Pope John Paul II.
There is also the question of celibacy amongst the Church’s Nuns and Priests, which is keeping good people from entering the religious profession, when it is hardly a secret that many of the so-called celibates are anything but.
The world is crediting Pope John Paul II with almost single-handedly defeating Communism. I won’t argue that his voice was not a factor. But I will argue that he was more of a bit player than the center of attraction.
With or without John Paul II, the Soviet Union was on track to its own inevitable collapse.
There is no room for argument about the combined roles of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher in the termination of the Iron Curtain.
And no one ne can ever forget Lech Walesa, the Polish electrician who came to rally hundreds of thousands of Poles in Gdansk and throughout his country.
Even though Pope John Paul II lent his voice of support, I didn’t see him on the streets of Poland facing down the Communist military as did Lech Walesa.
There is no argument about the effectiveness of Pope John Paul II in directing, promoting and marketing the Catholic Church, but I have to wonder what affect this Pope really had on promoting the human condition.
Did the Vatican loosen its grip on BILLIONS of dollars from their own coffers to feed hungry children, shelter the homeless, help abused women, defend the rights of minorities or the sanctity of the environment?
Many individual Parishes do their best to help those who need the help with the charity they raise from their dwindling parishioners AFTER sending Rome its share.
But what about money from Rome?
I have a friend, who with the help of his wife feeds several THOUSAND hungry school children every day in Montreal. He is not a rich man. Nor are he and his wife young people. Yet, day in and day out, they are at the forefront of dong the work governments and Churches should be doing.
As women are beaten, raped and murdered in Moslem countries, I have heard nothing of consequence from the Vatican or from Pope John Paul II. Why not? Aren’t the victims of Moslem tyranny God’s children too?
Pope John Paul II took the internationally popular position of standing against the US decision to invade Iraq and free the world from a mass murderer. Yet in the same breath, he called upon the world to live in peace.
How can there be peace when men like Saddam Hussein terrorize all about them?
I also find it curious how virtually everyone who is rushing to eulogize this Pope, all seem to acknowledge how he brought democracy to Europe while the Vatican is amongst the least Democratic institutions on this planet.
This Pope was great for the Catholic Church, and even better for the Vatican. But did he make a real non spiritually-felt difference in the lives of humanity? I think not.
I think my friends who feed several thousand children every day in Montreal make a bigger real difference where it counts.
All of that said; there is no question that the Pope was a man of great political finesse and influence, whose ability to capture the media throughout the decades is a feat beyond compare.
He will be missed by the Catholic Church and its followers for a considerable period of time. And in the annals of the Vatican, he will be remembered as one of their great Popes.
But what did he really do for humanity?
Uniting and strengthening the Church is not the answer.
It is for the Church.
But it is not the answer for the BILLIONS of people who are still starving, the people who are still living under the thumb of tyranny, the unwanted babies, the people dying from aids, the bigotry against Gays and Lesbians – and so on.