The Pope went to Cuba and denounced what he called the fanaticism that tries to impose its truth on others.
Strangely, I’m in agreement with Ratzo on that one. Nobody should try to impose a version of the truth, but I’m afraid his finger-wagging waves a little hollow here in Ireland. After all, this is a country where they released the Poor Clares to vote against divorce.
Imagine that. An army of cloistered virgins marching into the polling booths to tell adult men and women they may not legally end their relationships. That happened in modern-day Ireland on the 26th June 1986. What’s worse is this: they succeeded, and if that’s not trying to impose one version of truth on everyone else, I don’t know what is.
Perhaps Ratzinger wasn’t aware of the irony when he called on Fidel Castro to provide greater freedoms, and a bigger role for the Roman Catholic Church in Cuban society. Think about that. Greater freedom so that Rome can force you to do what it wants.
Now, look, before anyone starts ranting about Castro, I’m not defending dictators. I don’t like any of them, even the ones installed by the Free World when it serves their interests, such as the vile Saudi regime, or Saddam or the ridiculous Pahlavi, Shah of Iran. I don’t even like para-dictators like Cheney and I certainly don’t like Communist ones who screwed up every country they ruled, or so we’re told.
If these Commies are so vile, why is the West suddenly courting said Commies so assiduously, including our own spiritual leader Enda Kenny as he accepts the salute on Tien An Men Square? Oh, wait a minute. Maybe it’s because they have money. Could that be it? And the fact that they own all America’s debt?
And wait. Did Communism screw up China?
Certainly, the life of the average Chinese person has been exceedingly harsh, and without doubt, the Mao years were beyond enduring, but Mao was one man attended by a criminal clique. Taking the overview, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the Chinese people have been dragged screaming into an era of prosperity they could never have hoped for under the old regime. Furthermore, the country is stable. It works, and we deal with it all the time, despite our fulminations about human rights. We deal with it.
Don’t read this as a defence of the Chinese regime. I don’t like what they do to the Falun Gong. I don’t like what they did to Tibet. I didn’t like the way they crushed the students’ revolt but none of this is about what I like. This is about how nations relate, and conduct their business. Countries are far bigger than our little concerns and we should avoid trying to anthropomorphise them, as GW Bush, President Chimp, used to do.
Ratzo is right when he asks Fidel to permit more religious freedom. People should be free to believe whatever nonsense they wish, but I think he has something more in mind. I think Ratzo is seeking to restore Rome’s power in Cuba, and the giveaway is his request to permit Catholic universities in the country.
It’s true that Cuba is an oppressive dictatorship, but it’s also true that much of its poverty is caused by a ruinous economic war imposed by the USA, just as the United States imposed ruination, through an extended economic war, on the other communist country it failed to crush: VietNam.
There are no black and whites, and in fairness to the Pope, much of his message is motivated by a desire for justice and tolerance. But unfortunately, Josef Ratzinger is not the man to deliver such a message, and the Catholic Church is hardly a model for tolerance and openness anywhere.
You don’t believe me? Just ask any Irish person who remembers the first divorce referendum.