"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Friday, March 03, 2006

Why nobody cares that the Soviets did it

An Italian parliamentary commission concluded last week that the Soviets were behind the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. That conclusion was even presented as "beyond any reasonable doubt." There has been barely a ripple of reaction; the Russian Government has said nothing publicly. Nobody, in the West at least, seems to care; in the East, I suppose, the assumption is that the commission has said nothing important that everybody didn't already know. The lack of interest is itself significant.

Had the attempt succeeded, it would have been a crime unique in the annals of modern history, and could have long delayed the end of Communism and the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe. (I say 'modern', BTW, because there were a few 10th-century popes who managed to get assassinated by rival Roman families.) But not many tears would have been shed in the secular media. What I mostly hear now in such media about the late, great pope is that the cause for his beatification is an outrage because he failed to depose and turn over to the authorities those bishops who covered up the sexual abuse of minors by priests. Indeed, he moved the disgraced Cardinal Law to Rome and made him archpriest of an important church there. The line against JP2 is that, as a CEO who failed to discipline the executives under him, he should have been fired rather than lionized. Such, at any rate, is the gist of talk radio on the subject. If that reflects the common view, and I suspect it does, then it wouldn't be a stretch to say that, in today's conventional wisdom, Mehmet Ali Agca gave Karol Wojtyla only a tad more than he deserved.

I recall the words: "If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first" (John 15: 18). Given what he knew, the Pope did all he could, trying to balance justice and mercy. Of course it is said that he ought to have known more and been more ruthless about it. I think that is true. But the same could and should be said of each of us, who are sinners. Saints are not people who never sinned; they are people who overcame sin by loving God and others more.
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