Via Media

Via Media

Word from Rome

Right here.

On Martino:

In fairness, it should be noted that when Martino mentioned Hussein’s “heavy responsibility,” it seemed a reference to the former Iraqi leader’s human rights abuses. I have interviewed Martino on the war several times, and he has never been under any illusions about Hussein’s brutality. His argument has always been that there are other dictators around, and it’s not clear to him why war should be justified to remove this one and not others.

Whether one finds that logic persuasive, and whether Martino’s comments should have been balanced by a more clear acknowledgment of Hussein’s victims, is a matter for reasonable discussion

On the Pope’s health:

On the subject of the pope’s health, I spoke Dec. 17 to someone who had dinner with John Paul two nights earlier. The pope was in good form, this source said, deeply involved in the conversation, offering observations of several sentences in length. This person presented the pope with a collection of poetry, and the pope immediately cited one of the American poet’s major works — no mean feat, given that English is perhaps the pope’s fifth language. It suggests his memory remains in relatively good shape.

The dinner guest had written some weeks before to the pope to describe a personal situation. When he arrived, the pope, without prompting, said he had received the letter and would remember the intention in his Mass the next day.

Kenneth Woodward profiles John Allen, who is, I note, a former high school teacher. Seems as if we both left high school teaching around the same time. Now he’s in Rome and I’m in….

Never mind.

Comments read comments(18)
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Michael Tinkler

posted December 19, 2003 at 3:40 pm

Hmmm – what would Renato Cardinal Martino say to removing a few more?
Oh – somehow I don’t think he would be in favor of it. It’s unjust because it’s indiscriminate to remove all dictators.

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Fr. Brian Stanley

posted December 19, 2003 at 5:48 pm

Amy, say it: Fort Wayne, Indiana.
There. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

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Joe McFaul

posted December 19, 2003 at 6:46 pm

How many children does John Allen have?

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Sean Gallagher

posted December 19, 2003 at 9:49 pm

Fort Wayne, IN: just another outpost in the Kingdom…

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Sean Gallagher

posted December 19, 2003 at 9:50 pm

Fort Wayne, IN: just another outpost in the Kingdom…

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posted December 20, 2003 at 12:41 am

Now Amy. John Allen may have easy access to great espresso and Italian pastries, and OK, there are all those Vatican treasures in his backyard.
But Ft. Wayne is the Eternal City of the midwest, and you are Queen Frostine of the blogoshere! (Candyland reference to those without kids under five)
And don’t you forget it!

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posted December 20, 2003 at 9:08 am

Ok…I must be really old….my version of CandyLand didn’t have a Queen Frostine!

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Fr. Shawn O'Neal

posted December 20, 2003 at 10:23 am

Nathaniel replied: “Can anything good come from Fort Wayne?” Philip said, “Come and see.”

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posted December 20, 2003 at 11:22 am

Peace, all.
Ft Wayne still has the Comets, I hope. Used to love going to hockey games there. Rome (like Kansas City, alas) does not have a hockey team.

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posted December 20, 2003 at 12:13 pm

Cardinal Martino’s comments are indicative of a morally bankrupt person. He is a coward. I am glad the American and British governments have taken a more courageous stand against such injustice. Merry Christmas!!

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posted December 20, 2003 at 1:31 pm

Hey Todd it’s Komets with a K!
The hockey games are pretty amazing, for someone whose previous exposure to minor league sports had been as part of a crowd of about 97 at Lakeland Tigers games.

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posted December 20, 2003 at 2:07 pm

I wonder what Martino thinks of good ol’ Jan Sobieski and the defeat of the ‘religion of peace’at Vienna some years ago? And at a Pope’s urging,to boot! Forget WWII,I won’t mention it.

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Zach Frey

posted December 20, 2003 at 2:29 pm

Um, Amy?
The Tigs only play like they’re a minor league team.

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posted December 20, 2003 at 4:08 pm

Peace, all.
I think it’s Lakeland, Florida. And yes, I stand humbly corrected on Komets. I went to about ten games there in 1993-95 and especially loved when they would play the sounds of an airplane propeller after the home team scored a goal. Much better and more original than the silly song they played everywhere else.
And yes, hockey is always amazing.

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Mark Adams

posted December 20, 2003 at 5:48 pm

“His argument has always been that there are other dictators around, and it’s not clear to him why war should be justified to remove this one and not others.”
All right, this is a good question. It seems to me that many pro-war Catholics ignore this question all together. While the anti-war Vatican simply posits it as proof that the war was unjust. That was my biggest problem with the Vatican’s position on Iraq. The fact of the matter is that moral theologians need to be grappling with question of how the international community of free nations is to deal with horrific, despotic regimes. And the Vatican should be at the forefront of the discussion. Instead we are told “Why target Saddam? There are other tyrants.” I find that lacking in leadership and a tad immature.
As for the pro-war crowd, we need a little more than “He was a really bad guy.” The Catholic tradition has required more than that.

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posted December 20, 2003 at 9:11 pm

The Detroit Tigers train in Lakeland, of course. The Lakeland Tigers are their Single A team. Grapefruit League, I believe. A pleasant way to spend a summer evening with a few dozen of your fellow Lakeland residents.

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George Lee

posted December 20, 2003 at 9:44 pm

John Allen writes: “Most observers felt that theme had been chosen, at least in part, as an implied criticism of the United States for waging war in Iraq without explicit authorization from the United Nations. Indeed, the Vatican news release made the connection: “The recent war in Iraq,” it read, “manifested all the fragility of international law, in particular regarding the functioning of the United Nations.”
A mere 5 years ago the Vatican did not object when Americans used military force in the Balkans without United Nations approval. Indeed, the Vatican supported that use of force. My recollection is Pope John Paul II virtually called for it, though there was not even a chance of the U.N. authorizing it.
Now U.N. approval is cast as a sine qua non for the use of military force. What is the reason for that?
If the US decides to pull its troops from the Balkans and fighting there later flares up again, will it be deemed wrong for the US to return yet again without U.N. approval? Or will the Vatican, having endorsed it once, do so again, despite its recent insistence that U.N. approval is needed? Russia would certainly veto any such U.N. approval.
The ways of virtue and holiness are so often mystifying to me. I should have thought that international law was made for people, not the other way around, to paraphrase a famous opponent of the Pharisees.
Martino is quoted: “I was saddened to see him [Saddam] destroyed, reduced in this way,” he said. The tapes released by American forces of his medical examination showed Hussein being “treated like a cow, having his teeth checked,” he added. “We should have been spared these images.”
Granting the compassionate heart that some credit Martino with, how odd that he doesn’t say, ” HE should have been spared these images going out over the airwaves.” Instead, he says, ” WE should have been spared these images.” Was Saddam’s supposedly injured dignity Martino’s concern or, perhaps without his even consciously realizing it, was it the injury to his own amour propre?
Charles Dickens famously created the character of Pecksniff, whose name has entered the language as a common noun for the practice of “hypocritically affecting benevolence or high moral principles.” The Gospels record Christ’s exasperation with such people. A lot of my recents posts record mine, hehehehehe….
Allen asserts that it was an excess of sympathy that prompted Martino’s comments, and surely some sort of excess was. But was it sympathy for Saddam or for himself and others who, getting news of Saddam’s capture, perceived a some sort of setback, if only one in the never ending rhetorical battles about the Iraq war?
Damn shazam, though, I was surprised to read Allen’s account of why the text of the Pope’s message came to be changed. You had to understand the context, he said. “That context works as follows. Ruini, as the president of the Italian bishops conference, wants to maintain a good working relationship with the Italian government. (The Italian state conducts an annual tax collection that provides enormous revenues to the bishops, a sum that last year topped $1 billion). Under conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the Italians have been supportive of U.S. policy in Iraq. Every time the Vatican issues a critical statement about the war, therefore, it makes life more difficult for Ruini. Tauran’s replacement, Italian Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, is likely to be more sensitive to this reality.”
I’d hate to think the Vatican’s public stance on the morality of this or that issue depended on who was contributing how much to it. If that is the case, though, maybe Americans could take comfort in the fact that they are by far the largest single contributors to the Vatican’s financial well-being. European church attendance is so low that financial support for the Church from the laity is quite nominal. Africa, Asia, South America, etc. are not wealthly enough to contribute much, though they send all they can.
I don’t think it would be fair or even rational to assess moral issues based on who is contributing what. I’d hate to see that become a deep-seated habit. I am convinced that there is an even more important “context” in which to consider moral issues than what makes life easier or harder for folks in the Vatican.
Hehehehe, Geez, pecksniffery is bad enough, but imagine it coupled to the morals and stratagems of a Chicago alderman!
The Church in my time, the Church since the Council that was gonna be the new, improved model…I swear, if I were a drinking man, I might pour myself a double or even consider just dispensing entirely with the glass and the ice…

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posted December 22, 2003 at 6:26 am

Don’t worry, Amy. The real activity takes place on the edges of the empire, not in the imperial capital.

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