“Mr. President, dear friends: as I begin my visit to the United States, I express once more my gratitude for your invitation, my joy to be in your midst, and my fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this nation and its people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace”
Unfortunately, “the ways of justice, prosperity and peace” were not furthered by the high media profiled sight of His Holiness, all-smiles, in the embrace of a warm handshake with the Commander in Chief of the armies of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On the contrary, the image of the man who millions consider to be God’s representative on Earth standing comfortably alongside the perpetrator of the very invasions Pope Benedict had made known his opposition to, could not be seen otherwise than a sanitizing of the White House.
How many hundreds of thousands among the millions of people who watched were constrained to think, ‘well, if the Pope finds him okay, how bad can he be.’?
How many peace and justice activists, ( including of course quite a few Jesuits and Mary Knoll priests and nuns) felt dismay for the approbation shown by the Pope toward this figurehead of the corporate governance of the United States, currently led by the industrial military complex and defended by war promoting conglomerate owned commercial entertainment/news media.
How many thousands of those only beginning to see the dishonest, untruthful and devious character of this president, were confused to see him basking in the seeming approval of the Vicar of Jesus Christ.
How many Catholic’s found The Holy Father's graciousness toward Bush disappointing, because they are vocal trying to convince their neighbors that Bush is an immoral person, against federal health insurance, against having the wealthy pay social security tax like everyone else, instead of lowering benefits for the retired.
The Pontiff chose to celebrate his birthday at the White House, the seat of command decisions of not only the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and by Ethiopian proxy, in Somalia, but also of decisions taken in the blind interests of U.S. corporations at home and abroad.
"Bush, big White House crowd greet pope on his birthday" by Jennifer Loven, Associated Press, Apr 16, 2008
“The festive White House visit— which also turned into a celebration for Benedict's 81st birthday,— was followed by 45 minutes of private talks between Bush and Benedict, alone in the Oval Office.
Bush and Benedict share much common ground, particularly in opposing abortion, gay marriage and embryonic stem cell research.
But they disagree over the war in Iraq, the death penalty and the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. Benedict also speaks for environmental protection and social welfare in ways that run counter to Bush policies.
A joint U.S.-Holy See statement hinted that Benedict brought up his concerns about the damage caused by punitive immigration laws. It said the leaders discussed "the need for a coordinated policy regarding immigration, especially the humane treatment of immigrants and the well-being of their families."
Benedict has been critical of harsh interrogation methods, telling a meeting of the Vatican's office for social justice last September that, while a country has an obligation to keep its citizens safe, prisoners must never be demeaned or tortured.”
Let the reader consider: Here we have two very powerful men. Yes, the Papacy has political power. Just two examples: Pope Pius the 12th formally excommunicated Communists and let it be known that those voting for communist candidates in the Italian election of 1949 faced excommunication as well. The Communists, for their fine World War Two record, had been expected to win a majority. They subsequently lost. The same Pope’s silence while Hitler rounded up Jews and invaded and caused the destruction of most of Europe was also an exercise of political power through his neutral withholding of criticism.
Bush and Benedict, two powerful men – one is using every ounce of power he has at his disposal, even quite cruelly, to promote the agenda of the out-of-control corporate world he is beholden to. Pope Benedict, on the other hand, does not use his power to help stop the war he quietly says he is not in favor of; makes no public statements or instructions that his thousands of bishops and their tens of thousands monsignors and priests speak out against the wars.
The same is true for the other issues the Vatican quietly lets it be known about the Pope being at odds with the maximum leader of the West. There is no speaking out for removing the embargo against Cuba, or condemning torture, the death penalty, punitive immigration laws, environmental damage and Bush those anti-social policies.
With the Pope’s happy photo-op upon arrival, our much-beleaguered President will have his approval rating raised.
“The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps marched by, dressed in colonial garb.”
How many of us, who consider his host to be a pathetic unmerciful smiling monster, ignorant beyond comprehension, inconsiderate of his own soul’s well being, found this religious man’s show of affection a simple, pitiful aberration.
Being that hope springs eternal, many of us watching could not help keeping our fingers crossed that the Pope would make some public comment about the sin of continuing these wars of occupation, before he ended his week stay in the U.S.
How many of us non-Catholics and non-Christians are feeling sorry for our progressive Catholic friends, and having compassion for their Pope's joining the company of certain Popes before him acquiescing to infamous wars in the name of practical politics thus protecting the guilty elite while ignoring the peace movement.
How many sensitive people who grieve for thousands of beautiful innocent Iraqi, Afghani and Somali children perishing in their very own country for being 'in harms way' of Bush’s military command, just shuttered at the spectacle of holy man and murderer together.
"Bush also said Americans should see Benedict's U.S. tour as a reminder to "distinguish between simple right and wrong."