Friday, April 22, 2005

The Pope, Iraq, Passover & Freedom

The debate over whether the choice of Pope was a good one or not rages. Some of the arguments are profoundly intelligent on both sides, and some are irrational diatribes. An example of the latter is in a letter to the New York Times as quoted in World Peace Herald:

“Nazi pope a clear and present danger to the civilized world.”

An engrossing and well-documented piece by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen in today’s Los Angeles Times continues the warning of Ratzinger’s prior statements. Considering the title of Goldhagen’s book, A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair (Vintage, 1997), It is easy to imagine his take on the election of a German for the Papacy who was once a Nazi Youth member. However, it is worth reviewing his delineation of the background of European Catholic and Christian action against Jews which lead to the Holocaust, and that the church “avidly aided various aspects of the Nazi’s persecution of the Jews.” All of this activity has had its influence on post-War attitudes leading up to the present. As I wrote on April 20, anti-Jewish feelings and action in Europe is on the rise, with ignorance of the past responsible for much of the blame.

The ongoing stories about the new Pope coincide with the renewed activity of the terrorist insurgency in Iraq. The inhuman and bloody video posted on the web by the killers who shot down a helicopter yesterday, and then shot and killed the one survivor as he pleaded for help, displays the continuing evidence of how low the human spirit can sink. That there could be any idea in these terrorists' minds of justifying their actions with a cause is a dim glimmer that burned out long ago. They practice an unfocussed hatred that serves no purpose for them. Whether one supports the US-led Iraq invasion and occupation or not, there can be no rationale for these outrageous, immoral thugs who kill for the sake of killing alone.

The culmination of this week and its events, on Saturday night, with the beginning of the great celebration of freedom—Passover—seems fitting. In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter how we feel as individuals about the politics of our elected representatives, or big corporations, or the misfits and criminals in our society. We Americans live in freedom that never existed before our founding fathers proclaimed independence, and that freedom is still unique in the world. That is worth noting and celebrating, and that is the great lesson of the story of Moses--of slaves who wanted freedom, and became free. With all the subsequent problems described in the book of Exodus, and with all the problems we as a nation are confronted with today, the taste of freedom is something that anyone who was ever denied it, desires above all else in life. And our free society--however each of us wants to perceive its associated parameters of limitations, rule of law, and other restrictions--makes us most fortunate among, and a wonderful example for, the people of the world.

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