How Pope John Paul II looked at America: that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo."
The late pope had two big problems with the USA. He saw our quest for material things as foolish and anti-spiritual, especially in the face of so much world poverty. And he despised the culture of death that some secular Americans have embraced — things like abortion and euthanasia.
For the past few years as his health declined, the pope left worldly matters mainly to his deputies. He concentrated on spiritual disciplines — prayer and fasting and acceptance of his own physical pain.
Thus, when the U.S. priest scandals erupted, the Vatican was slow to react. At first, it blamed the American media for spreading lies, but when the evidence became overwhelming, the pope did offer a condemnation but did not aggressively supervise the situation.
Finally, the promotion of the controversial Cardinal Law (search) of Boston to a position in Rome sealed the pope's fate, excuse me, regarding the scandal among many Americans. They just couldn't justify that action.
But the Holy See does not seek approval from America. — Very important to understand that. It regards this country as headed in the wrong direction spiritually. And that assessment may be correct.
Let me give you one very vivid example: Imagine you are Pope John Paul II and you read about a Kansas doctor named George Tiller (search). This man performs about 500 late-term abortions every year. His price — about $5,000 per operation.
Now it is possible that Tiller's patients are all in danger of death or catastrophic illness. — That's possible, but not probable. And here in the USA, there is no oversight on Tiller. His records are sealed. No authority can find out exactly the state of his patients. We only know that 500 babies are dead by his hand each year.
So the pope's reading this in "The New York Times." And that paper, along with most in the media, are fine with Tiller. So is the American Civil Liberties Union (search), Planned Parenthood (search), National Organization for Women (search) and on and on. And the courts are fine with Tiller, too. —The guy's been operating since 1973.
What do you think a man like Pope John Paul's going to think about our system of justice in America? An awful lot of viable babies are being destroyed and there's no transparency. That kind of culture, our culture, has alienated the Holy See. And all the good things America does are kind of overshadowed by the relentless secularism that is on the march here.
Church attendance is dramatically down for all religions, while materialism and personal gratification is up — way up. Pope John Paul II did admire the freedom we enjoy in America. And he often said that.
But he felt that our country was being hijacked by secular forces bent on anti-Christian policies. The pope was right about that, but didn't really deal with it directly. Perhaps the next pope will.
And that's "The Memo."
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...
In Berkeley, California, strange things happen almost every day. So the following item may not surprise you...
A teacher at the Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Marguerite Hughes, wants to change the name because Mr. Jefferson owned slaves way back when. This is a continuation of the madness that has enveloped Berkeley. The Christopher Columbus School was changed to the Rosa Parks School. And the Abraham Lincoln School was changed to, ready, the Malcolm X School. Isn't that nice?
Ridiculous, off the chart, but if you choose to live in Berkeley, California, that's what you'll get.