So the Pope is dead, but I have to lament that the Catholic Church, unfortunately, is still going strong.
What was this particular Pope's legacy? This CNN piece
on the subject notes his opposition to communism in Poland, but also notes his staunch morals: opposing any and all birth control, calling homosexual marriage "a new ideology of evil", and his opposition to the first Gulf War (which everybody else supported, right?).
Of course, he had invited Tariq Aziz, who Christopher Hitchens
correctly notes was "one of Saddam Hussein's most blood-spattered henchmen". This Pope was no friend to the Iraqi people, though he was, apparently, a friend to the most wretched regime in the region.
But Hitchens' obit focuses on the glaring decrepitude that this Pope presided over:
A few years ago, it seemed quite probable that Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston would have to face trial for his appalling collusion in the child-rape racket that his diocese had been running. The man had knowingly reassigned dangerous and sadistic criminals to positions where they would be able to exploit the defenseless. He had withheld evidence and made himself an accomplice, before and after the fact, in the one offense that people of all faiths and of none have most united in condemning. (Since I have more than once criticized Maureen Dowd in this space, I should say now that I think she put it best of all. A church that has allowed no latitude in its teachings on masturbation, premarital sex, birth control, and divorce suddenly asks for understanding and "wiggle room" for the most revolting crime on the books.)
Anyway, Cardinal Law isn't going to face a court, now. He has fled the jurisdiction and lives in Rome, where a sinecure at the Vatican has been found for him. (Actually not that much of a sinecure: As archpriest of the Rome Basilica of St. Mary Major, he also sits on two boards supervising priestly discipline—yes!—and the appointment of diocesan bishops.) [Update, April 4, 2005: And to add injury to insult as well as insult to injury, this wicked old fugitive will, in the coming days, be a part of the holy conclave that assembles to decide on the next Pope. Could anything be more disgusting?] Even before this, he visited Rome on at least one occasion to discuss whether or not the church should obey American law. And it has been conclusively established that the Vatican itself—including his holiness—was a part of the coverup and obstruction of justice that allowed the child-rape scandal to continue for so long.
Yes. It still boggles my mind that some people still use the Catholic Church as any kind of moral guide, or point to the Pope as any kind of moral authority.
And yet, in all the eulogizing, I'm sure he'll be portrayed that way.