Sunday, April 03, 2005

PopeJohn Paul II: Conservative

The Catholic Church is one of the most conservative institutions on this planet, as you'd expect of an institution that has managed to survive close to 2,000 years. Anything that old doesn't keep going by making wild changes of direction.

John Paul II was a conservative steward of the Church, and you'll probably hear a lot of so-called "conservatives" puffing their chests in pride at that fact. They shouldn't. John Paul II had nothing but contempt for those who call themselves "conservative" but are anything but. Indeed, he regularly called them small-minded and short-sighted, stating that a world which was divided into rich and poor where the poor were largely deprived of basic services such as health care, education, housing, safe water, and adequate nutrition was not only a moral atrocity but could not, in the end, stand. In fact, many of John Paul II's statements such as his statement opposing the war in Iraq would be called "liberal" by the people who pose as "conservatives" in the United States today. That, however, shows just how far American "conservatives" have moved away from the principles of conservatism, rather than John Paul II being a liberal.

What principles of conservatism did the Pope uphold and American "conservatives" do not? Let me count the ways:

  1. True conservatives believe that there are fundamental moral values which are fixed in stone, such as respect for life, Christian charity, and a respect for tradition. American "conservatives" respect life only if it is an American fetus (once it grows up, it's okay to kill it, as long as the proper legal procedures are somewhat followed), believe that taxing themselves in order to provide charity for those in need is theft, and respect tradition only if tradition is profitable to them (thus why they are trying to destroy the tradition of filibuster in the Senate). Catholic coservatives, on the other hand, decry all taking of life whether abortion, capital punishment, or unnecessary wars of foreign aggression, maintain the world's largest charity organization (Catholic Services) which provides vital help to those in need such as insulin and syringes to poor diabetics who cannot afford to buy those and who will in fact die if they do not receive those, and maintain a tradition that goes back close to 2,000 years.
  2. True conservatives do not change their moral values whenever the breeze changes. If a true conservative does not believe, for example, that American taxpayers should be responsible for nation-building overseas, he does not suddenly shift his opinion a few months later just because it is convenient or popular, the way that Bush did when he moved into nation-building exercises in Afghanistan and Iraq. Catholic conservatives, on the other hand, maintain their beliefs regardless of their popularity. For example, the Pope's continued statements against birth control and abortion dismayed American Catholics. The Pope's response was to basically shrug and say that morality was not a popularity contest. Bush's response to his prior statement was to shrug and say "September 11 changed everything", which would make a real conservative raise his eyebrow because moral values, to a conservative, are not something that are changed by a single event.
  3. True conservatives believe that moral values are *universal*, i.e., that they apply to everybody. If torture is wrong, for example, true conservatives believe that torture is wrong no matter what. True conservatives do not believe in the sort of moral relativism that says "well, torture is wrong, except when it's not", as exemplified by Anerican "conservatives" who basically say torture is wrong but it is okay as long as it's being done by Americans for the right reason. When John Paul II spoke out in favor of human dignity and against torture in his visits to 3rd world nations, he did not add a "unless torture is done for the right reasons" clause. That would not have been conservative.
  4. True conservatives, when change *is* necessary, are careful to adopt policies and procedures that have been tested in the crucible of time and proven to be effective. They don't run off half-cocked implemented untried and untested policies just for the sake of change. They are *conservative*, i.e., slow-moving. They do not, for example, discard 60 years of military thought on what it takes to invade and occupy a country in order to test an untried theory of "Shock and Awe". If traditional policies tested and found valid in the crucibles of Nazi Germany and Japan say that it takes a force of 500,000 men to properly conquer and occupy a nation the size of Iraq, conservatives do not move until they have that force of 500,000 men in place, unlike "conservatives" such as the Bush Administration, who had no problem throwing out decades of military experience in favor of untried theories, and thus ended up allowing Iraq to spiral out of control to the point where the United States controls only those places in Iraq within eyesight of an American soldier. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, as a conservative institution, did not move away from the Latin mass until the vernacular mass had been tried and tested by other institutions (such as the Church of England) over the course of centuries, and only after it had become apparent that change was necessary for the future survival of the Church. Change for the sake of change is not a conservative value.
  5. And finally, one difference between Pope John Paul II and the "conservatives" in the United States is that the Pope worshipped God, while the "conservatives" worshipped the dollar bill. This was often a point of contention between Pope John Paul II and organizations such as the U.S. government and multi-national corporations that often pursue policies intended to enrich the wealthy nations and impoverish the poor nations. A true conservative similarly worships God, not the almighty dollar, and has ethics based upon God, not upon how many dollars the decision will make for him. Contrast that with Vice President Halliburton, whose decisions as President of the United States have often seemed calculated to enrich his company (which he still receives paychecks from as "deferred compensation") rather than inspired by any ethical or moral concerns.
So when American "conservatives" start praising Pope John Paul II, remember this: Pope John Paul II was disgusted by them, feeling that they were a moral-less bunch of leeches who were "conservative" only by the warped standards created by their own propaganda as dutifully recited in the American press. By the standards of American "conservatives", the only conservative value the Pope had was his opposition to abortion... they very carefully closed their eyes and put their hands over their ears whenever he talked about capital punishment being immoral, or waging unnecessary war being immoral, or when he said that pushing trade policies that enriched wealthy nations at the expense of poor nations was immoral. As with other true conservative icons, they're going to hijack his image in order to push their own (un-conservative) agenda. That, alas, is the disgusting truth of the American "conservative" movement today -- having no morals, no ethics, no values of their own, they hide behind the skirts of true conservative icons in order to pursue their Brezhnevian policy of looting the wealth of nations for the benefit of a Party elite. And now they're doing it again.

- Badtux the Disgusted Penguin


  1. gREAT JOB, DiSGuSTEd OnE.

  2. Beautiful analysis and great job. It's funny how the proto-fascist crony capitalists on the right want to claim John Paul II as one of their own.

    There has been a great deal of historical revisionism taking place in the media coverage of this pope. The same thing happened when Reagan died--the media did not mention his illegal wars in Central America and the fact that he could have been impeached for Iran Contra. Now they are saying that the pope brought down communism in the Eastern bloc, saved the world, etc.

    The pope's opposition to birth control diminished the efforts to combat AIDS in Africa. He was complicit with Reagan's policies of death squads in Central America which killed the poor as well as his own priests and nuns. John Paul opposed liberation theology in Latin America and basically told radical priests who fought for social justice to either shut up or leave the priesthood. So he opposed the Iraq War? Well he could have stopped it if he took a real stand and went to Baghdad in March 2003. I doubt we would have started "Shock & Awe" with the pope in the middle of Baghdad.


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