Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Unenlightenment

I've been in meetings with some European colleagues (3 Russians and a Belgian who lives in Spain) all day and just got home. I'm tired, I'm cranky and now that I know who the new Pope is, I'm a bit depressed.

Last night, at Dinner, we all discussed the papal elections (we were also joined by two American colleagues who are Catholic) including our preferences of the front runners, as well as our concerns. They all expected Ratzinger, I thought the whole Nazi youth might cause some problems for him as the Vatican made a big deal about JPII apologizing for the less than stellar behavior the Catholic Church has shown to people of other religions, especially Jews. Any time JPII woudl reference the Holocaust and Jews got upset, we'd hear about how JPII and the Vatican itself really weren't slapping the face of those victimized by the Nazi regime - we were oversensitive, they were reaching out to us. JPII suggested Pope Pius XII was worthy of being put on track for sainthood, people world-wide (Jews especially) considered it as proof that the Vatican was, as always, disingenuous in their stated remorse and assertions they want a respectful relationship with Jews. It's always seemed that JPII just didn't get it, worse yet that he (and the Vatican) didn't care.

So today, we're all standing around and we were told the election is final and the former Nazi youth is Pope. From the looks I got from my European colleagues, I could tell my face showed my disappointment - our 2 American colleagues couldn't understand why I'd give a fiddler's fart about who was chosen for Pope (the Europeans, of course, understood). How to explain that the religious right is creating an environment that is ripe for bringing our own version of the pogroms or inquisition to North America; there are signs of resurgence of massive anti-Jewish activity in Eastern Europe, Russia in particular; and now a Pope with a less than friendly history. I got home, check out Faith Forward's affirmation project (to cheer me up), check a few other blogs and figure Lindsay Beyerstein's probably got something interesting to say about the latest Pope Benedict. She, of course, did not disappointment. The info in her post, however, disturbed the Hell out of me.

FYI - the Europeans aren't too happy about Pope Benedict either. They also give the US about 5 years til we become a third world nation (I said closer to 15) if we continue our current political course (the Russians have volunteered to put me up if necessary).

On a happier note I can highly recommend Siam Restaurant in Lambertville, NJ (BYOB, no credit cards, excellent food and the waitresses were total sweethearts).

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