The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Catholic Church and the pope pull the 21st century backward

Apr 18, 2005

"Tireless pilgrim," "man of meetings," a spirit "open to the hopes and suffering of the world,"... commentators competed with one another to praise the late John Paul II, calling him a man for his epoch.

In reality, using modern media and transportation to address huge audiences, this pope delivered the reactionary social and political message of the Catholic Church for 26 years. A long list of reactionaries were made into saints or simply blessed or congratulated by the pope. If John Paul II was opposed to the dictatorship in Poland, he supported many others.

The representative of the pope in Chile during the dictatorship of Pinochet declared, "Even masterpieces can have stains. I invite you not to look at the stains on the picture, but to look at the whole, which is marvelous." John Paul II was still supporting Pinochet, when the dictator was arrested in England in 1998.

The Catholic Church not only advises men – and especially women – on how to live while maintaining reactionary prejudices. It also, where it is able, influences governments to prohibit women from controlling their own bodies. The church condemns contraception and considers abortion a "crime." This pope, presented to us as a champion of the "rights of man," showed nothing but scorn for the rights of women! John Paul II even called those countries which legalized abortion "tyrant states." He dared to compare the abortions carried out in the world each year to the victims of the genocide carried out by the Nazis!

Confronted with the AIDS epidemic which appeared in 1981, the emissaries of the Catholic Church, even in the African countries most affected, preached marital fidelity and abstinence. Abstinence, of course, is a "virtue" easy for the old men of the sacred college to practice. "Chastity is the only sure and virtuous manner of putting an end to this tragic plague," declared John Paul II to youth in Uganda in 1993. The Catholic Church continues to object to the use of condoms, even though the use of this ordinary item can save the lives of millions.

During the reign of John Paul II, the Catholic Church certainly made a speciality of apologizing for its past crimes. It has more than enough to choose from. During the Inquisition, adherents of other religions and "heretics" were tortured and burnt to death; the church now says there were "errors" and "excesses." The church finally recognized in 1992, that Galileo's trial in 1616 was a "painful misunderstanding!" The church threatened to torture him to death for demonstrating that the earth rotated around the sun. There were messages of "repentance" and "purification" for the role of the Catholic Church in the slave trade and its dubious attitude with respect to Hitler's extermination of Jews during World War II.

The pope who just died was as reactionary as previous popes. This so-called "democrat" wanted society to return to the Christianity of the Middle Ages. Commentators might as well have pointed out that another pope from 500 years ago just died.