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Why Progressive Westerners Never Understood John Paul II

Mark Steyn

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If I were Pope - and no, don't worry, I'm not planning a mid-life career change - but, if I were, I'd be a little irked at the secular media's inability to discuss religion except through the prism of their moral relativism. That's why last weekend's grand old man - James Callaghan - got a more sympathetic send-off than this weekend's. The Guardian's headline writer billed Sunny Jim as a man "whose consensus politics were washed away in the late 1970s". Is it possible to have any meaningful "consensus" between, on the one hand, closed-shop council manual workers demanding a 40 per cent pay rise and, on the other, rational human beings? What would the middle ground between the real world and Planet Zongo look like? A 30 per cent pay rise, rising to 40 per cent over 18 months or the next strike, whichever comes sooner?

By contrast, the Guardian thought Karol Wojtyla was "a doctrinaire, authoritarian pontiff". That "doctrinaire" at least suggests the inflexible authoritarian derived his inflexibility from some ancient operating manual - he was dogmatic about his dogma - unlike the New York Times and the Washington Post, which came close to implying that John Paul II had taken against abortion and gay marriage off the top of his head, principally to irk "liberal Catholics". The assumption is always that there's some middle ground that a less "doctrinaire" pope might have staked out: he might have supported abortion in the first trimester, say, or reciprocal partner benefits for gays in committed relationships.

The root of the Pope's thinking - that there are eternal truths no one can change even if one wanted to - is completely incomprehensible to the progressivist mindset. There are no absolute truths, everything's in play, and by "consensus" all we're really arguing is the rate of concession to the inevitable: abortion's here to stay, gay marriage will be here any day now, in a year or two it'll be something else - it's all gonna happen anyway, man, so why be the last squaresville daddy-o on the block?

Read the entire article on the Daily Telegraph website (new window will open).

Posted: 08-Apr-05



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