Pope John Paul II was one of the heroes of the final struggle against Communism, such an important leader that the Russians tried to have him assassinated. But in the ensuing years, he has been disappointing. Yesterday he met with Tony Blair. Contrary to the usual custom, the Vatican double-crossed Blair by releasing a transcript of the meeting.
The Pope’s side of the conversation, as reported by the Daily Telegraph, was weak. He urged Blair to “avoid new divisions in the world,” as though Great Britain were the source of worldwide conflict and division. He called on Blair to give “special consideration” to the Iraqi people, “already tried greatly by long years of embargo.” This is simply outrageous. The Iraqi people are “tried greatly” all right, but not by the extremely porous embargo. They are “tried greatly” because they are ruled by a sadistic tyrant. And it is utterly perverted to suggest that leaving Saddam in power gives “special consideration” to his victims, the Iraqi people.
The Daily Telegraph notes further that the Pope’s chastening of Blair follows last week’s joint statement from the leaders of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales “doubting the moral legitimacy of a war on Iraq.” This is another chapter in the sorry story of the decline of the Christian churches as organized bodies. That the principal churchmen of the United Kingdom find freeing millions of suffering Muslims to be morally problematic reflects poorly on them, not on Tony Blair.
Downing Street responded to the Vatican’s release of the transcript of Blair’s interview with a statement that “We acknowledge the Pope’s concern and we share the desire to avoid war but ultimately the decision will be a decision for Saddam.”
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