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Home > Culture and Society

Papal Bullshit: Hypocrisy in action

10 April 2005

This week George W Bush said Pope John Paul II was ‘the champion of human freedom'. It was one of many sick-making tributes to a man, real name Karol Wojtyla, who championed the cause of backward nonsense.

And what the hell does Bush know about ‘human freedom'? To use just one example, Bush is presiding over a shadowy global network of illegal detention, under which supposed terrorists have been arrested and imprisoned with little or no evidence against them.

People have been kept in inhuman conditions in Guantanamo Bay, while many more have been shipped off to places like Syria to be tortured. An ex-CIA spook recently said: ‘If you want a good interrogation, you send someone to Jordan. If you want them to be killed, you send them to Egypt or Syria. Either way, the US cannot be blamed as it is not doing the heavy work.'

We suspect the full extent of human rights abuses perpetrated by the US and its unsavoury chums as a consequence of September 11 and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq will only be fully revealed in years to come. But even now, talk of human freedom is a bit fucking rich coming from Bush.

Then there was Tony Blair: ‘Even if you're not a Catholic, even if you're not a Christian, even if you have no religious faith at all, what people could see in Pope John Paul was a man of true and profound spiritual faith, a shining example of what faith should mean.'

For God botherers, faith is probably the greatest virtue. But as Mandy Rice-Davies might have said, they would say that, wouldn't they? They can't exactly point to the mountain of scientific evidence in favour of the existence of God.

But faith alone is an empty concept. It's no substitute for reason - you wouldn't visit a dentist who relied on faith. You wouldn't even accept a lift from a driver who relied on faith. And simply believing something doesn't make it true. You'd have thought by now Tony would be a bit more cautious in matters of faith. He had an awful lot of faith in the existence of WMDs, and that didn't exactly pan out too well.

Meanwhile Fidel Castro announced three days of mourning in Cuba. It's nice to think that this backward-looking commie dictator, who is substantially to blame for impoverishing his own nation, is big-hearted enough to commemorate Jean Paul in this way. It's a bit like Lenin generously giving every starving Russian a
balloon on a stick.

As with Diana, it seems the death of JP2 was a licence to spout whatever old crap pops into your head. The great thinker Bono described John Paul as ‘the first funky pope'.

Er, what? The Chambers Dictionary defines ‘funky' as ‘in the latest fashion, trendy'. The Pope, who opposed the ordination of women priests and the use of contraception, and was top dog in a medieval organisation, was quite clearly neither of these things. (Although another definition of ‘funky' is being ‘with a strong, musty or bad smell', which could well be the case if the Vatican didn't leave the Pope's body in the hands of a good taxidermist.)

Of course, none of these tributes were really about the Pope himself, they were about Bush, Blair, Castro and Bono. With friends like these, who needs critics of the Vatican?

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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