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Tomorrow I will write about Mother's Day but now please read about condoms!

Amy Welborn of "Open Book" links to one of those ah-so-original articles about how the pope lets millions die of AIDS because he won't allow condom use and a very interesting discussion ensues. Some of the best comments I give you here:

- Oh, for heaven's sake . . . as if people out fornicating have this atavistic scruple implanted by the Church NOT to use a condom, a scruple they rigorously obey even in the midst of their fornication.
"I'm going to hire a prostitute for her services, but I'd better not use a condom because the Church tells me I'll go to hell if I do." -

-Shouldn't an African solution to HIV manifest itself in African solutions? I hear Muslim polygamy helps combat AIDS transmission rates, why not encourage both polygamy and Islam? We could send Louis Farrakhan and Mohammed Ali over as goodwill ambassadors and sex educators!
Where are all the cultural relativists? Isn't condom distribution a form of cultural imperialism? -

- If women are being forced into sex with HIV- infected husbands out of fear of being left destitute, well, we've got a bigger problem here, don't we? -

-I just don't see the link to the church. I suppose the argument goes that the wife is a devout catholic who would use condoms in heartbeat once she got the green light form the pope. -

- But the Church isn't forbidding condom use because it doesn't like western-style promiscuity. The Church forbids condom use because it believes condom use in and of itself to be wrong. -

- I continue to find it amazing that the NY Times is upset that the Pope is a Catholic. (Maybe they were hoping for a write-in of Bishop Spong?) What also amazes me is the unexpressed racism that runs through the discussion of HIV/AIDS in Africa and Latin America. The premise is that all those brown and black people are completely at the mercy of their raging hormones - and we can't really ever expect them to behave otherwise. -

- To paraphrase the fish analogy: Give a person a condom and she/he's safe for the night. Teach people mutual respect and they're safe for life. I don't think the Catholic Church owes anyone an apology here. -

Posted at 09:35 PM on May 08, 2005

We have a pope!

I have to admit I'm surprised: Pope Benedict XVI (previously known as Cardinal Ratzinger)

Posted at 12:02 PM on April 19, 2005 | Comments (3)

Thank you

Many people are writing their own tributes about John Paul II and I enjoy reading them. Even though he had the same effect on me I'm always amazed how so many people have a connection to him. When we were in Toronto at the World Youth Day and the crowds were cheering to the pope on and on, Lincoln said to me how he didn't understand people going crazy. I knew what he meant, because on first glance it seemed out of place to behave like this towards a religious figure. He wasn't a rockstar. It seemed too strong, too childish. But towards the end of the weekend we both knew exactly why the crowds were going nuts... because we felt it too. It was easy to love John Paul II, because he loved you first. I know this will be misunderstood as a kind of mass hysteria or religious fervor, and I will not attemp to explain it. Mostly because I can't. It was a simple reality. I have never met anyone who could convey God's love in this way, with such confidence and such complete lack of fear. It was overwhelming.

It's not easy to be a Catholic. It never was I assume, but each period in time has its own challenges. Nowadays it is outrageously out of style in the Western world. Catholicism is described as antiquated, anti-human, hypocritical, sexually misinformed and repressed, totalitarian and corrupt. It was impossible for me most of the time to convey to people the difference between doctrine and the sins and imperfections of the church's members. And beyond that it was impossible to me to explain how faith and church were related and that you couldn't discuss faith issues in the same way you discuss politics and its agenda. Growing up and even now I felt out of place a lot, it was a struggle. Not just because of an obvious clash of my convictions with the current trends but also because it was hard to find Catholics I could really identify with. There were those who would admonish against anything world-related. MTV was evil, so were most kinds of music and movies, wearing this that or the other was a near occasion of sin, talking about frustrations with your faith, talking about your own weakness was taboo. The right way to live was apparently to shut yourself off from "the world" by criticising it constantly and living in fear that "it" will still somehow devour you one day and you could lose your faith in 5 seconds. I knew I could not live this way, but I could not live the other way either. I suppose one always feels in their heart what the right thing to do is, but in most cases we sort of tend to just join one group or the other and run with them because it feels safer than following what you truly believe.

But then there was this pope. At the youth meetings he talked to us by identifying with this dilemma. I never felt dismissed, I never heard him lament how evil this generation was, how godless, how hard it would be for us to ever lead a good life. It was the opposite. It was the opposite to a lot of what I had heard in Catholic circles. He encouraged us and spoke about what really moved us. He said God was entrusting us with the tasks of tomorrow. It was the right thing for me to hear so many times... when I felt completely at odds with every single person of my generation or when I felt I didn't know where in the church I really belonged. It is hard for me to explain, because these are very personal things, but I am so grateful because I feel my life took a certain course because there was this person who lifted me up and didn't even know me.

People get upset about the church preaching about "universal truths" and interestingly those universal truths are what I am most grateful for. I am at loss though when I am asked to explain that. The closest I come to compare it to is the feeling you have when you find yourself recognized by someone. Maybe your friend, or your spouse or preferably God. You experience the moment of seeing yourself - and therefore others - as you are really meant to be, with your true calling and your dignity. The church has given me many ways to experience that through exactly those corner stones that everyone else is always tripping over... its doctrine on relationships, sin and the true meaning of life. The World Youth Days were always a great opportunity to rediscover these turths in yourself and others and I am sure that this was the reason John Paul II had started them. He had the gift to remind us that we were loved and we had a purpose and that we should never be afraid. It was always very personal, there was little talk about theory and theology but much about living your life with God - fearlessly.

The thought of him being gone is somewhat scary to me. The truth is always a reality, whether he is here or not, but to me it will be quite lonelier. This pope was a constant support in my life and selfishly I would rather not let go of it. I feel a little like the apostles who after they see Jesus transfigured (Lk 9:30) with Moses and Elijah, ask if they could build them little houses on the spot and have them live there - everyone together living happily ever after. I want John Paul II to stay here and things should not change and I should always be able to have him close and rely on his words and his encouragement. Like many others I feel orphaned in a way. At the same time his death with all its numb and final ugliness does not overshadow the joy of his life. More than that it's making a fool of itself trying turn it into a dark event.

Posted at 11:46 AM on April 06, 2005 | Comments (6)

Ah, the sadness.

"We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son."
Until I gather my thoughts, things from happier times: World Youth Day 2002




... and a few good links:

The Pope Blog

The Life of Pope John Paul II in pictures

The most beautiful photos of John Paul II (L'Osservatore Romano)

Posted at 07:43 PM on April 02, 2005

I knew it was coming, but...

... I am so not ready for it. This man played a decisive role in my life, especially when overcoming some tough times. I am not ready to live without him yet, but I suppose I will never be.

Posted at 10:36 AM on April 01, 2005 | Comments (1)