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The Late Pope & Human Rights

In the run up to and following the Pope's death, gushing editorials disguised as "news" evaluated the late Pope's life, conveniently ignoring his role as an opponent of human rights for gays and others. Few were the voices who punctured this monolith, pointing to his criminal role in preventing a scientific approach to fighting AIDS and his steadfast opposition to equal rights for women and gays, whether within or outside of the church. We are proud to say the GLN's Bob Schwartz was one of those voices. Below is his letter which was published in the April 4th Chicago Tribune:

To the Editor:

In the case of Karol Wotijla it is necessary to speak ill of the dead. The media, including the Tribune, have been filled with fawning reverence for a man who was in actions a committed foe of human rights.

While praised for his role in "toppling Communism," the pope paid only lip-service to human rights and scratched at the surface of capitalist excess, while destroying the theology of liberation in Latin America--the means by which the church engaged the structures of exploitation and its attendant powerlessness and poverty.

Wotijla declared war not only on homosexuality, but in the last years of his rule railed against civil equality for gays in the harshest terms, calling same-sex adoptions "violence against children." Gays it seems, not predatory priests, are the enemies of children. His declared intention to make the defeat of civil marriage equality for gays his "top priority" for 2005 has been thwarted only by his death.

Framing John Paul II as a charismatic, courageous leader beloved by millions, ought not rule out criticism of a man who played an utterly reactionary role in recent history.

Bob Schwartz


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