Archive for January 2007

“You’re a sad little man.”

January 30, 2007

It was nice to see the National Catholic Reporter (Jan. 26, 2007) flag as one of its memorable quotes, the stunningly obtuse and utterly pompous remark of Bishop Robert Lennon of Boston.

“You’re a sad little man.”

Lennon, then an auxiliary bishop in Boston, was trying to stop Joe Cultrera from filming exterior shots of the archdiocese’s chancery. Cultrera was making a documentary, “Hand of God,” about his brother Paul’s sexual abuse by a Boston priest, Joe Birmingham, a serial pedophile, shuffled five times by the archdiocese.The arresting film was shown on PBS in late January.

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard this chancery hack utter the words to Cultrera who was basically minding his own business filming these background shots. Lennon walks out and asks Cultrera what he was doing there and he patiently tells him that he is completing a film on his brother who was abused by Fr. Birmingham who died in 1981.

Lennon is not interested. He has no time for Joe Cultrera’s patient and sensitive rendering of his reason for being there. Joe has no idea who Lennon is. The cleric then turns on Cultrera and says to him if you’re trying to make me feel guilty, you’re wasting your time…and then the stunningly cruel remark, “You’re a sad little man.” By itself, the remark tells you just about everything you need to know, certainly about the rot that was exposed in the Boston archdiocese.

I was honestly expecting the film maker to deck the insufferable Lennon. His brother’s life had been in free fall for 30 years, incredible pain, a grad from Boston College who had never really lived up to his potential. Joe wisely takes the high road and leaves.The brothers however did get it together to add another sordid chapter to the dying days of the feudal church. You can watch Joe Cultrera’s film by going to PBS.

Paul comes alive in the film and skillfully navigates his personal trail of tears to find the equally guilty culprit behind Birmingham, his fellow classmate (1960) from the Boston seminary, John McCormack. He proves how McCormack lied to him about his relationship with Birmingham, that the former had actively colluded to protect the wolf among the several innocent lambs whom he betrayed.

McCormack amazingly is now a bishop (Manchester, N.H) who refuses to resign. So much for accountability, honesty and transparency.And these guys are hunting down politicians who are “gay friendly.”

The best part of the film is when McCormack meets with several of the abused.And Paul says this to him:

“So I need to know how you, John McCormack, could believe that lying to me about what you knew of Birmingham’s career-long pedophilia could benefit me, and help me to “put it all behind me”. You clearly had a chance to assist me in my healing process by letting me know that I was not alone. Instead of choosing to relate to me with Christian compassion, you chose to deal with me as an adversary, closing ranks around the archdiocese’s desire to avoid scandal and all the attendant liability. Your pseudo-friendly advice to not prosecute the church was self-serving, as was the advice to “put it behind me”. You had to know that putting something like this behind me would only be made more difficult by virtue of your duplicity. And that the anger I would eventually feel for your lies would burn for years. You were playing the priests’ old trump card, attempting to keep me in the passive, submissive roll of the sheep in the flock, disguising yourself as the caring shepherd. And you were good at it.

I walked out of your office in 1994 actually thinking for a while that you wanted to help me, and that your advice to not prosecute was in my best interest. This is why you need to step down now: because you’re so good at using your priest’s persona to protect the truth about yourself and the others that you collaborated with – because you and your colleagues are more interested in perpetuating your careers, your power and your images of piety than you are in doing the work of Christ you profess to be interested in. ”

Careerism hardly makes for ardent disciples of the crucified kingdom peddler. It simply produces sad little men.

The Devil made him do it

January 25, 2007

Sula,formerly known as Rose, greeted me with a warm smile in my favourite Greek restaurant in Toronto’s Greek town last night.I introduced her to my daughter Chris and Sula immediately launched into the story of why I call her Rose.

A couple of years ago I was dining witbh a priest friend and she overheard part of our conversation.

“Are you guys priests?

I always answer yes to that question.Tom just laughed.

Sula was upset about the rose which bloomed in her back yard in December. “Is it a sign of the Apocalypse?” The Book of Revelations is well known by Greeks as it was written on the isle of Patmos. Sula is a serious Orthodox Christian and needed some reassurance.

I told her that it was not a sign of the end.The Book makes no futuristic predictions though it does encourage Christians to be steadfast. A guy named Hal Lindsey has sold over 30 million books turning scripture into a comic book pastiche of end time predictions.Literalist lunacy. Don’t worry,Sula it may be global warming but it’s humans not the Creator who are advancing the Doomsday clock.Ever since then Sula has been Rose.

Tonight her question was better.

“Why do these evangelical Christians in the USA support Bush because he’s a Christian? I don’t understand how a man who has been rersponsible for the death of so many people in Iraq can be a Christian. Am I wrong?”

I told Sula that Bush has dragged Christianity to new depths and those people who think he represents the ethic of Jesus are confused or more precisely, they’ve been hornswaggled.

Tomorrow I am sending 84 year old former Senator George McGovern’s latest take on the worst president of the 20th century.

“Sir, when reporter Bob Woodward asked you if you had consulted with your father before ordering our army into Iraq you said, “No, he’s not the father you call on a decision like this. I talked to my heavenly Father above.” My question, Mr. President, if God asked you to bombard, invade and occupy Iraq for four years, why did he send an opposite
message to the Pope? Did you not know that your father, George Bush, Sr., his Secretary of State James Baker and his National Security Advisor General Scowcroft were all opposed to your invasion? Wouldn’t you, our troops, the American people and the Iraqis all be much better off if you had listened to your more experienced elders including your earthly father? Instead of blaming God for the awful catastrophe you have unleashed in Iraq, wouldn’t it have been less self-righteous if you had fallen back on the oft-quoted explanation of wrongdoing, “The devil made me do it?” ”

The Palestinian Catastrophe

January 20, 2007

Recently I heard Robert Massoud, the man behind Zatoun, a small Palestinian-Canadian initiative to lend some needed solidarity to the beleaguered people of the West Bank and Gaza. Robert is doing some creative work “watering the plants” doing something positive to help Palestinian farmers who regularly see this historic indigenous crop uprooted. His talk was simply a description of what he saw. He said he never was afraid but once riding into Jenin he saw something which terrified him and should sicken us.

Out of nowhere his car was “attacked” by (get this) 4 year old children.They climbed all over his car like feral beasts. This is just a small snapshot of the state of mental health in the biggest prison in the world. What is happening there is shocking beyond belief.

“Some 1.4 million people, mostly children, are piled up in one of the most densely populated regions of the world, with no freedom of movement, no place to run, and no space to hide,” wrote the senior UN relief official, Jan Egeland, and Jan Eliass .

The adolescents, according to Massoud, play these pathetic video games, almost all of them violent. Shaking his head in disbelief, Massoud was pulled aside by a wise elder who understood: This is the only act of psychic enlargement these young people have. Driven to an internalized impotence, they can blast the Israeli occupier to smithereens. How sad is this?

Dr. Mona El-Farra a friend of the journalist John Pilger recently wrote him to describe the unrelenting and shocking psychological abuse this has on his teenager: “I see the effects of the relentless sonic booms [a collective punishment by the Israeli air force] and artillery on my 13-year-old daughter. At night, she shivers with fear. Then both of us end up crouching on the floor. I try to make her feel safe, but when the bombs sound I flinch and scream…”

Trauma is a way of life for most of these kids.

Look at these figures provided by the nonpartisan Remember These Children

Looking out for #1, Condoleeza Rice

January 18, 2007

How did a woman come out of nowhere so fast, hide her personal life and become the worst Secretary of Defense in living memory?Only those in the American black community know and many won’t tell. It’s the old story in any minority community: do you slag one of your own even if she is part of the most regressive presidency in living memory? Harry Belafonte whose credentials as a progressive are impeccable, had no problem dissing Colin Powell as a sell out, going so far as calling him a “house nigger.”

Gene Robinson, a black reporter for the Washington Post last year pointed out what many blacks knew, that Rice came from a family in a black middle class enclave in one of the truly hot spots of the civil rights era, Birmingham,Alabama. According to Robinson, her family misled Condi about the justice of the civil rights movement and certainly about the heroic work of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth .

C.L. Chestnut a black civil rights lawyer in Selma went further. According to him, Rice’s father a fundamentalist Presbyterian, had no use for Shuttleswoth and his small but committed congregation. They were” “uneducated, misguided Negroes.” Chestnut tartly says, “Shuttlesworth has a statue ”which stands for all ages outside the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum while Rice ‘s monument is his is his daughter’s high position in a Republican administration that has only two per cent support in black America.”

Chestnut who was in Birmingham at that time goes even farther “I have a feeling she would spit on the grave of King and on all those brave souls whose life and death sacrifices put her where she is now.” Rev.Rice ignored the collective struggle and brought up his daughter to look after # 1, a fairly republican idea.  

Another newspaper did some good research on Rice, this time the famed London Times who sent reporter Peter Stothard down to Birmingham to look into Condi’s childhood,He discovered not only her fundamentalist daddy but photos of the precocious daughter sitting on the radiator grille of her uncle’s Jaguar Mark Vlll indicating her family’s petite bourgeois existence . The family actually was registered as Republicans.
Stothard did his homework and ratified what Robinson and Chestnut said. The Rice family did not support the civil rights movement or Dr. King; they never marched and from his pulpit Rev. Rice criticized the activists. Seemingly Coni has maintained her “faith”. She has been reported as one of those who leads praters on Air Force. So where did she come from?

Extremely ambitious with seemingly no personal life, Rice was introduced to Pappy Bush by presidential advisor Brent Scowcroft. With a grad degree in Russian politics, she was hired as a Sovietologist at a time when the “evil empire “had crumbled. Talk about bad timing but the optics were good. Republicans are always on the look out for black talent. Bush was defeated and Condi went back as an administrator to Berkeley where she quickly became very unpopular, getting rid of the university’s affirmative action policy. She was then appointed to the oil giant Chevron’s board, obviously beholden to the oil connected Bush. She even had an oil tanker named after her.

In April, 2006 film maker Spike Lee tore into her at the same time that New Orleans was under water.” She was going up and down Madison Avenue buying Ferragamo shoes”,Lee sputtered, adding: ‘I dislike Condoleezza Rice even more than Bush… She’s gotten a free ride from black people.”The following week in the New York Observer. Lee commented “African Americans will have to really, really, really, really, really, REALLY analyse the Secretary of State’s record and get past the pigmentation of her skin. I’m not going to vote for that woman. No way!’

It now appears that the hapless Bush Jr has permanently skewered Condi’s shot at the presidency.No big loss there.

The Fog of War

January 12, 2007

Recently TVO showed the riveting Errol Morris documentary The Fog of War, the anguished mea culpa of the former U.S. Secretary of War, Robert McNamara.At the end of the film he speaks T.S. Eliot’s famous lines:

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

This is a fitting epilogue for the tortuous, cinematic self-examination we are privy to in this revealing film. Culled from twenty-five hours of interviews, the end product is a fascinating Q and A with the still-controversial former secretary of defence in the administrations of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Subtitled “Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara,” the work haunts the viewer by its stunning parallels with the ideas of the architects of the current U.S. debacle in Iraq. It is an eerie experience to hear McNamara’s voice, but see in one’s mind’s eye the faces of Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld — blind men, whose hubris has crafted the stunningly arrogant “Project for the New American Century.”

McNamara, sprightly and energetic at 86, exhibits the same sharp intelligence that catapulted him through Berkeley, Harvard, and IBM to the presidency of the Ford Motor company. Then, at 42, he became the Secretary of Defence under JFK and later under LBJ. In many ways, he is a haunted man, who in his ninth decade, still feels he must submit himself, if not to some high court of international justice, to the cinematic bar of history.

This makes the viewer a bit uncomfortable. We watch this formerly self-assured man squirm and come close to tears as he exposes himself to past wounds. In the end, one is grateful for his doing so. The final product yields a rich harvest.

Eleven lessons

Interspersed with clips of the period, including the memorable ones of the professor with his pointer explaining to a television audience and the press, the “mysterious” country of Vietnam, the film is constructed on the 11 lessons McNamara says he has learned.

They are valuable ones, even if you are among “those who still think I am a sonofabitch.” One forgets today, 40 years later, just what a lightning rod Bob McNamara was for the liberal press, repulsed by his absolute certitude and often condescending air.

The present-day McNamara, if not exactly lovable, is no longer “the soulless technocrat” he appeared to be when all those bombs and cancer-producing defoliants were dropped in a far-off place smaller than Nova Scotia. His newfound humility and anguished ambiguity elicit at least some respect for an older and wiser McNamara. He makes it clear at the start, that even though humans can learn from their mistakes, today there is little turn-around time given the terrible finality of nuclear weapons.

His first lesson is to empathize with the enemy. He credits the former ambassador to the USSR, Tommy Thompson in this regard. The latter sat next to JFK during the October Missile Crisis of 1962, one who knew Khrushchev personally. Thompson convinced JFK that Khrushchev had seen such devastation in two World Wars he would not want to risk a nuclear conflagration. He did, however, want to save face.

In this sense, both men were rational, but McNamara now insists that rationality will not save us. In 1992, Fidel Castro staggered him with his statement that he would have advised Khrushchev to launch a first strike despite the potential incineration of Cuba.

Having studied philosophy and ethics at Berkeley and Harvard, McNamara is a rationalist, one committed to critical thought and ethical thinking. Hence, his third point that there is something beyond oneself. Yet, McNamara never seems to make the leap beyond ruthless intelligence to deep compassion. In 1944, working as the statistical guru of war efficiency, he acknowledged the fighting brilliance and leadership capacities of a man much of the world considered insane in the Vietnam era — General Curtis Lemay, he of the “bomb them back to the stone age” comment. It was Lemay who showed McNamara how “efficency” worked when the latter was trying to understand why 20 per cent of B-19 sorties were aborted. Men would take off and get “sick” until Lemay took the lead plane. Anybody who did not follow would be court-martialled.

The fire bombing of Tokyo

It was McNamara who helped Lemay organize the horrific fire bombing of Japan which killed 100,000 people on one night in Tokyo, and thousands in other Japanese cities. “A man totally intolerant of criticism,” Lemay was the ultimate realist. These mass murders saved American lives. If “we had lost the war,” Lemay admitted, “we would both be tried as war criminals.”

From efficiency to proportionality is McNamara’s fifth lesson. The mass murders in Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama were too much. Nuclear weapons today make moot the questions of proportionality.

Fast forward to 1964. LBJ asks McNamara to fix Vietnam, and “whip the hell out of them.” Even though McNamara was sacked by the American adminstration in 1968, 25,000 Americans and one million Vietnamese had died. Proportionality?
The sixth lesson was natural to McNamara the technocrat: get the data. Here, he refers to his work at Ford, in digging out the reasons behind car deaths (lack of seat belts) and just who were buying fuel-efficient cars in the era of huge tail fins. Bravo for McNamara: the new Ford Falcon became a hit.

He says that “belief and seeing are often wrong.” He often saw what he wanted to see. He fell prey to seeing geopolitics through the simplistic lens of the Cold War, hence the “domino theory:” if the U.S. did not stop Vietnam from going “communist,” the whole of Asia would go. Years later, when visiting Vietnam he understood what any “Asia hand” could have told him: the Vietnamese would never cede their independence. They saw the Americans as the new imperialists, unworthy successors of the French and the Chinese. American myopia had devastating consequences for the world.

One worries that if a bright guy like McNamara knew little of Vietnamese history, what a stunningly incurious man like George Bush knows about Iraqis and their history. How can one trust a man who had never travelled outside the U.S. before he became president, or a Congress where fewer than 40 per cent of members had passports before they were elected.

Commitment to nonviolence

“Be prepared to examine your reasoning” is his eighth lesson. He now admits “We have no record of omniscience.”

Lesson number nine is that “in order to do good you have to engage in evil,” McNamara cites two leaders in American war culture, General Sherman and the aforementioned Curtis Lemay. The former refused the entreaties of the mayor of Atlanta who begged him not to torch the city during the Civil War. “War is hell,” Sherman reminded him, as he lit the match. Curtis Lemay, a man who seemingly had no qualms at all about his death-dealing, by the mid 1960s, had become a savage caricature. In this context, McNamara raises a long forgotten incident during the Vietnam years: the horrifying self immolation of American Quaker Norman Morrison, who at the last moment spared his own child from the flames he had lit. No mention here of the countless Buddhist monks who torched themselves to make the same statement. “War is difficult for sensitive people,” McNamara concludes. In this segment, we see the real heroes of that era — the protestors, the 50,000 people, who marched on the Pentagon in a bid to halt the war. In a touching moment, McNamara, refuses to discuss his family and probably the terrible personal price they paid.

“Rationality will not save us” was for me the dominant lesson McNamara teaches. Philosophy will not save us either. It utterly failed Robert McNamara.We may have a chance if people of faith can grasp the fact that their commitment to nonviolence must absolutely trump their allegiance to imperial adventures like the “Project for the New American Century” and any other imperial crusade. 

Availale in video stores, the Fog of War is a valuable primer on imperial arrogance, stunning hubris and the wisdom of Santayana’s prescient dictum that those who do not read history will be condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past.Fog bound incurious George is the classic example.

The speech GW Bush should have given

January 12, 2007

“My fellow Americans. Iraq is going to hell in a handbag. So the whole shebang doesn’t collapse into mayhem and madness, we need to send in 21,000 more troops. So I’ve just wired King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and told him to send them.

“My missive to the monarch reads: Dear Abdullah. It’s time your 16,000 princelings got out of their Rolls Royces and formed the core of an Islamic Peacekeeping Force to prevent mass murder in Iraq. The American people are tired of you using the 82d Airborne as your private mercenary army. It seems like the Saudi military’s marching song is, ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’

“Well, King Ab, we’re out of here. We’re folding tents and loading the wagons. For four years now, Saudis have been secretly funding the berserkers in the Iraqi ‘insurgency’ while the Iranians are backing the crazies in the militias. Well, we’re telling you and the Persians: you’re going to have to stop using your checkbooks to fund a proxy war and instead start keeping the peace. It’s time you put your own tushies in the line of fire for a change.”

“If the African Union nations, poor as they are, can maintain a peacekeeping force to stop killings in Sudan and Senegal, you Saudis, with all the military toys we’ve sold you, can certainly join with your Muslim brothers in Jordan, Iran and Turkey to take responsibility for your region’s peace.

“And when you get to Fallujah, don’t forget to drop us a postcard.”

W aka Greg Palast

Fintan the Unforgettable

January 5, 2007

On the morning of the winter solstice , the darkest night of the year,Fintan Kilbride slipped peacefully away in the palliative unit of Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital. The quiet man who had brought so much light and hope into the lives of the young here and abroad left behind a legacy of such overwhelming goodness that its bountiful overflow will be felt for decades to come.

Raised in Tipperary with his seven siblings two of whom joined him in the priesthood, Fintan joined the Holy Ghost Fathers where he spent the next twenty-nine years teaching in Trinidad and building schools and hospitals in eastern Nigeria. Expelled in 1970, he worked in New York where he met and married Kenise Murphy in 1973. Moving to Toronto Fintan began his teaching career at Neil McNeil High school in 1975. It was here that many of us came to know and love the quiet Irishman with the sly and gentle humour and the passionate love for the poor which burned like a white incandescent flame beneath the unflappable exterior.

It was during these years that we saw another side of Fintan. simply stated he was one of the greatest athletes any of us had ever encountered. As Fr. Mick Doyle said in his eulogy,”Any sport that required a bat and a small moving object, Fintan mastered.” An outstanding hurler in Ireland, an incredible tennis player and golfer, Fintan was world class at racquet sports, squash and racket ball. His wife Kenise would often the story of two friends who were at the 19th hole of a golf course in Ireland, talking to the bartender.

“No one ever beats par on the 16th hole,” he said, “except the pro here. Well, there was, once, one man who did, a young priest from Nigeria.”

Choosing to concentrate on racquet ball, several times he won the North American Seniors championship defeating men years younger than himself. Finding little competition at his own age level, he would drop down and defeat those in the next age bracket-until the Kilbride rule, still in tact, was invoked. You can only compete in one division. Inevitably Fin would come home with the gold and we would have to pry it out of him that he had indeed won again. “I did OK,” was all he would say.Look in the dictionary under “humble” and you’ll still see his warm grin.

While at Neil McNeil, Fintan started Students Crossing Borders an international cooperative education program which introduce students to the realities of the Third world and their responsibilities as privileged brothers and sisters. It was in this context that Fintan touched the lives of the Kielberger brothers,Mark and Craig who counted him as a direct inspiration in their own work in Free the Children.

Also at Neil,Fintan was active in Teachers for Social Justice(TSJ), an activist group in the then Separate School Board whose very creation (1978) and existence proved how comfortable teachers had become in their middle class lives.TSJ had been formed to remind teacher colleagues that teaching under the banner of the Cross was a vocation and not a job; that it entailed consistent risks for those on the margins here and elsewhere. Fin was not only an enthusiastic member but he embodied for us what the world’s’ bishops had stated in 1971, that “justice was constitutive element of the gospel.” In 1979, Fintan was one of the founders of the (now) Ecumenical Stations of the Cross, Toronto’s ongoing attempt to insist that Good Friday is not sentimental nostalgia but a continuous fact in our city and our world.

In the 80s Fin became an active and enthusiastic member of Catholic reform groups, recognizing that the Church under the John Paul ll pontificate had begun to default on the promises of Vatican ll.The restoration severely disappointed him particularly in its failure to come to grips with the decline of priests all over the world. He was a very forceful spokesman for Corpus, the organization of resigned priests who challenged the mandatory celibacy role and wanted the priesthood open to women.

Retirement was not a word in the Kilbride lexicon. Forced to leave teaching at age 65 in 1992, Fintan took his passion for the Third World into supply teaching , exposing countless students to the hopes and dreams of the poor in Jamaica and Haiti. He was always on the road driving medicines and hospital supplies from Detroit to Miami where they would be shipped to Central America. At 78 and thirteen years officially retired, he was named the top Catholic teacher in Ontario and received the Marion Tyrrrel award for his social justice work.Shortly after receiving the award in 2005,Fin fell ill with a then undiagnosed illness. With his well known iron will he continued to attend his Saturday morning Craic (Irish,good conversation) sessions with like-minded cronies in a coffee house in the the Beach.

Inevitably as the cancer drained him, he was taken to the palliative unit at Princess Margaret Hospital. Sitting by his bedside a week before he died, his tremendously supportive wife Kenise remarked to me what a privilege it had been to spend the last thirty 33 years with this good man. We who knew him as a close and loving friend can only utter our silent amens. The quote from Francis of Assisi on Fintan’s mass card perfectly summed up his rich life.” Go teach all nations-if necessary use words.”

Vatican takes the high road on Saddam’s execution

January 2, 2007

The late,great Toronto rabbi Reuben Slonim in his arresting autobiography To Kill a Rabbi opined that Israel began to default on its early promise of “lor goyim”, a light unto the Gentiles, when it made an exception to capital punishment and hung the pathetic manager of the Holocaust, Adolph Eichmann. Slonim’s reasoning was simple: in what way would the state execution of this mousy bureaucratic murderer atone for the millions of deaths he help organize? Should not have Israel taken the high road only twelve years after the state was born and rise above the desire for revenge? This would have solidified the desire of Israel to incarnate the lofty humanitarian goals of Zionism in a post war age. While I do not wish to in any way justify the failed Zionist project, I do think Slonim had a valid point.

Which brings me to the death of Saddam Hussein and the high road of Cardinal Martino, the Vatican’s top bureaucrat in the area of peace and justice.To Cardinal Martino in a few paragraphs.

The circus surrounding the state execution of Hussein was a step backward for the “new” Iraq. Forget the disgusting video traveling around the cyberworld of Hussein’s last moments; forget the cheap cat calls as the brutal dictator had the noose strung around the neck. But pay attention to the almost universal condemnation of Human Rights groups of the kangaroo court and the massive failure to attend to the rule of law in this trial. Richard Dicker of Human Rights International summed it up in these words:

“The trial was undermined from the start by persistent political interference from the Iraqi government. Furthermore, the rights of the defendants were systematically denied by failures to disclose key evidence to the defence. There were also serious violations of the defendants’ rights to confront witnesses testifying against them. Most disturbing were the frequent lapses of judicial demeanour by the trial’s second presiding judge. In January, the first chief judge resigned in protest over the public criticism of his trial management practices by leading officials.”

Veteran Middle East correspondent Eric Margolis in his Sunday Sun column put it this way:

“No one can accuse me of sympathy for Saddam or his fellow thugs who terrorized Iraq. But I was thoroughly disgusted and ashamed by the kangaroo court created and stage-managed by the U.S. that condemned Saddam.

It was a disgraceful farrago of Soviet-style show trial and judicial circus. Washington, which claimed to be bringing the fruits of democracy to the benighted Arab World, put on a sinister legal farce worthy of, ironically, Saddam’s courts.”

Contrast this with the lamentable blood lust of another Sun columnist, Peter Worthington, a longtime cheerleader for the noose. Worthington of course salivated over the spectacle. Hang him high! Do it now! One large step for mankind! The question always remains: how does killing a human being deter other humans from killing? Worthington, of course, skirted the whole issue of Hussein as an American created thug in the geopolitical games Washington loves to play in its cynical machinations.No mention of course of Donald Rumsfeld’s famous greeting of Saddam in 1983 nor the fact that the Us sold him the components for his gassing of the Kurds.

Contrast this with the poorly reported rejection of revenge by Cardinal Renato Martino, the excellent Peace and Justice Vatican prelate. Martino has continued to build on one of Pope John Paull ll’s greatest accomplishments: the rejection of capital punishment as barbaric and an affront to the better angels of humanity. The Cardinal stated that Saddam’s execution would punish “a crime with another crime” and expressed hope that the sentence would not be carried out. “The death penalty is not a natural death. And no one can give death, not even the State,” he said.

This was the Church at its best and it is something that should be acknowledged publicly.