Karol Wojtyla

I'm not going to say much about the passing of the Pope as I don't know much about him, don't much care and, no doubt, the next few weeks will see the British general election pale into insignificance as every last damned pundit suddenly becomes an expert on the ins and outs of Vatican politics and the selection process for the new Pontiff.

Whether for good or ill, though, John Paul II believed in religion having a political role. That much is to be welcomed. When religion goes into politics, it can do so either for the greater glory of the religious institution and so play the game to its own benefit or it can go in with the intention of changing the field of play. I disagree wholeheartedly with a great deal of what John Paul II stood for and represented, but the manner in which he tried to change the political scene - by force of moral argument - is good. Morality does make people think. Certainly, the implementation and the bullshit that came out of some parts of the Catholic establishment probably did more harm than good, but if the new Pope, whoever he (and it will be a he...) is continues in John Paul II's vein but focusses on world poverty, as the latter had started to, and can bring people on side (not the billion Catholics but the 97 million in America) to, for instance, the Make Poverty History campaign and raise those issues rather than abortion, contraception and women (I'm sorry, but the Catholic Church is not going to be progressive on these issues for a long time, so we may as well hope they'll shut up about it instead), the Catholic Church may be able to make a real change. I apologise for the length of that sentence. Remember, though, that many religious people, Catholics, Protestants, whatever, are held up by many as examples of how we should live.



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