Today, President Bush called the Pope a “champion of human dignity,” and if you were poor, suffering under Soviet tyranny in Eastern Europe, or facing the death penalty, you’d probably agree. But if you were gay, or a victim of a priest who sexually assaulted you, or a woman who wanted to be a good Catholic and leave an unhappy marriage or have a career that wasn’t interrupted repeatedly by childbirth, or a priest wrestling with celibacy, or a pregnant victim of rape or incest, you’d probably disagree, because the Pope didn’t particularly care about your dignity, your needs, or the realities of your life. The same, of course, can be said for Bush—and then some—so it’s no wonder he views the Pope that way.
However, I believe that to recognized as a champion of human dignity, you’ve got to care equally about the dignity of all humans, and not be selective in your advocacy of equality or your protection of victims, conveniently excluding those who have been victimized by your own hand. So while I acknowledge that Pope John Paul II has indeed done some good things, you will not find me among those who choose to celebrate his legacy.
Consider this my eulogy for whenever he passes on. I only hope the Catholic Church seeks to find in his replacement one who truly earns the accolade unjustly bestowed by our president this morning, although I won’t hold my breath.
[UPDATE: He's gone.]