Jewish World Review August 5, 2002 / 27 Menachem-Av, 5762
First, Islam. The telling event here is that faced with a violent faction using the name of Allah to kill civilians, Muslims the world over did little. There were no mass demonstrations against terrorism, no peace vigils and no organized condemnation of the al Qaeda criminals. In fact, many Muslim countries actually condoned the attacks on Sept. 11 or blamed them on "the Jews."
Third World resentment against the United States aside, it would have been inconceivable one year ago to think that psychopathic killers would soon hijack the Islamic religion. But that is exactly what has happened, and the damage done to the image of Islam in the Western world is incalculable.
Likewise, it would have been unthinkable one year ago to consider that Catholicism would be besmirched by clerical perverts. But again, that has happened. The Catholic Church in North America has lost its moral authority because high-ranking cardinals and bishops covered up acts of priest-pedophilia and the Vatican has refused to discipline the guilty parties.
Many Catholics were stunned last week when the Pope visited Canada and declined to meet with some of the victims of clerical abuse. The Vatican said the Pope could not fit the meeting into his schedule. How sad. The Pontiff knew he was coming to North America months ago, and he had to understand the immense damage the church had sustained because of the scandal. But he couldn't find the time to reach out to those that have suffered at the hands of his priests?
Ironically, Pope John Paul built his schedule around a huge "youth rally." One wonders how many of the abused youths are rallying these days.
The Pope is supposed to be the Christian Savior's representative here on earth. Does anyone really believe Jesus would have turned down a meeting with the victims of priest-pedophilia? Based upon Scripture, that scenario is unthinkable.
Although some disagree, I believe organized religion has been a great source of good on this earth. The tenets put forth in the Bible and the Koran urge human beings to charity and love. However, theological passages are easily misinterpreted and distorted, and it is up to the people who actually run the religions to clarify complicated issues and set exemplary spiritual examples. Where are the Imams on terrorism? Where is the Pope on the suffering of abuse victims?
And it is not enough to give lip service to these problems. Until there are massive anti-terrorism demonstrations headed by Islamic clerics, the world is right to be suspect of that religion. And until the Pope dismisses the American clerics who have disgraced the Catholic Church, and until John Paul becomes proactive in protecting children, Catholicism has no credibility in preaching about moral imperatives.
I clearly understand there is a difference between the theology of Islam and Catholicism and the men who run those religions. And G-d knows I am not abandoning my Catholic faith. But I cannot defend Pope John Paul and his minions in Rome. They have failed miserably to right serious wrongs. The same thing can be said for those Muslim leaders who have not taken to the streets in protest of murder in the name of Allah.
Right is right, and wrong is wrong. You can look it up in the Bible or the Koran.
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07/29/02: Blood money