Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Newsweek's Big Scoop: The Pope is Catholic

Newsweek this week has an exclusive — the Pope has no living will! Are you surprised? Me neither. The real story is how relentlessly Newsweek uses this story to slam the pontiff for being a pontiff. First, we are informed that "his will to live — and to impose his will on the Roman Catholic faithful — remains as stubborn as ever." (Apparently this is due to his invocation of Petrine authority in a recent appearance. Big news!) Then we have this accusation: "this same pontiff who continues to assert his will in the daily life of the church has given his doctors no instructions about how to sustain his life." And finally — JUST IN CASE YOU MISSED THE POINT — the author repeats that, "having spent a generation imposing his will on the church, the ailing John Paul has yet to make known a living will to guide his doctors."

Is the Pope Catholic? Last I heard, the RC church was pretty pro-life, and I don't think the Pope is going to tell anyone to pull the plug on himself, as much as Newsweek would apparently like that to happen. And, hey, come on — isn't "imposing his will" just the same behavior that observers less animated by anti-Catholic bile would call leading, guiding, instructing?

Probably what Newsweek would really like to see is the Pope turn a shotgun on himself as Hunter Thompson did. David Gates in the same issue gives Thompson a wholly undeserved encomium as a great writer, invoking Shakespeare, Swift, Twain, Beckett and William Burroughs as comparanda (no, I'm not making that up). Here's how he ends his column:

[Thompson said]: "Our Armies will never again be No. 1, and our children will drink filthy water for the rest of our lives ... Big Darkness, soon come." If that's what he thought — he's not alone — and he hurt too much to fight any longer, he's well out of it now.
OK, who's the brave guy here? Thompson, who, having spent a lifetime fleeing reality, just couldn't stay ahead of it any more — or the Pope, who is fighting the Big Darkness with everything he's got? Which worldview is the most world- and life-affirming? Which figure wimped out?

(No, I'm not Catholic, as you know if you've been paying attention. I'm Episcopalian.)

1 comment:

Gary B said...

Very well done. Linking to this.