- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 8, 2010

Imagination limits

“Some blame the scandals on Pope Benedict XVI. But Joseph Ratzinger is the man who, weeks before his accession to the papacy five years ago, spoke blisteringly on Good Friday of the ‘filth’ in the church. … The most reliable commentary on Pope Benedict’s role in the scandals came from John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, who argues that once Benedict came to fully understand the scope of the crisis, in 2003, he made the church’s first real progress toward coming to grips with it.

“As for his predecessor, John Paul the Great, about whom I wrote an admiring book which recounts some of the scandals - I spent a grim 2003 going through the depositions of Massachusetts clergy - one fact seems to me pre-eminent. For Pope John Paul II, the scandals would have been unimaginable - literally not imaginable.

“He had come of age in an era and place (Poland in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s) of heroic priests. They were great men; they suffered. He had seen how the Nazis and later the communists had attempted to undermine the church and tear people away from it, sometimes through slander. They did this because the great force arrayed against them was the Catholic Church. John Paul, his mind, psyche and soul having been forged in that world, might well have seen the church’s recent accusers as spreaders of slander. Because priests don’t act like that, it’s not imaginable. And he’d seen it before, only now it wasn’t Nazism or communism attempting to kill the church with lies, but modernity and its soulless media.

“Only they weren’t lies.”

- Peggy Noonan, writing on “The Catholic Church’s Catastrophe,” on April 2 in the Wall Street Journal

Covering Islam

“Meanwhile, in Sweden, it was reported last month that Jews are fleeing Malmo, and the local rabbi says the cheery greeting of ‘F**king Jew’ is now routine. Sad, and a little embarrassing given Sweden’s past, but hey, if you’re not Jewish, not my problem, right? Sadly, in Landskrona the other day, an elderly couple parking their car made the mistake of attracting the attention of a young man of a certain, only vaguely hinted at, religion-of-peacey persuasion. He beat the 71-year old man brutally, and the 78-year old woman to death.

“The killing has shocked the town. The leaders of four local Muslim associations held a press conference to deplore the ‘accident’ and warn that it could ‘cause xenophobia.’ Indeed. That’s the real news angle here: ‘Sweden: Muslim Community Fears Violence After Attack On Elderly Couple.’

“That’s the ticket: A purely hypothetical outbreak of violent attacks on Muslims always trumps actual violent attacks on non-Muslims. In a Tim Blair reader’s note-perfect parody of a Guardian headline after the 2005 London Tube bombings: ‘British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.’ But, alas, this is a world beyond parody.”

- Mark Steyn, writing on “Macheteculturalism,” on April 6 at the National Review blog the Corner

Mayoral matters

“An interdenominational coalition of clergy in Houston is pressing its mayor to rescind the executive orders she issued recently that added sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression as protected classes in Houston.

“Nearly two weeks ago, openly gay Mayor Annise Parker signed an order ‘to provide a fair and equitable work environment for all employees’ and another to prohibit discrimination and/or retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity ‘at every level of the municipal government.’ The latter order, as it specifically states, covers hiring, contracting and/or access to city facilities and programs/activities. And this, Houston clergymen say, will open womens restrooms to men, among other results.

“Furthermore, [Houston Area Pastor Council Executive Director Dave] Welch takes issue with how the mayor so easily brushed off the will of the people. In 1995, Houston voters had passed ballot measures prohibiting the extension of special rights based on sexual behavior. They did the same in 2001.”

- Lawrence D. Jones, writing on “Houston Clergy at Arms Over Lesbian Mayor’s Orders,” on April 6 at the Christian Post

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