The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Holy Moses!

Me Talk Funny
 Holy Moses!
Holy Moses!

Holy Moses!

I realize the Catholic Church has been the butt of many a joke for the past couple of years (or, perhaps, all of eternity), and I realize that people have become tired of the whole ordeal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the news-worthiness of the Catholic Church will dissipate any time soon. In fact, we have seen several accounts concerning the Church these past two weeks.

We saw Pope John Paul II speak before the Italian government for the first time in several decades. Italy, burdoned with a relatively late start at becoming a nation-state as well as an always failing economy, has always had a love / hate relationship with the Catholic Church.

While most of the country is Catholic, Italy and her government continue to question the power of the Catholic Church. It’s a very strange relationship, dating back a few hundred years.

What struck me as interesting is the list of items the Pope chose to talk about during his 45-minute speech. The Pope paid special attention to Italy’s birth rate. As some of you may know, for a nation’s population to grow, its birth rate (the number of children women produce) must remain at approximately two children per female.

Italy, based on most recent statistics, maintains a birth rate between 1.2 and 1.25. The EU average is between 1.5 and 1.6.

Therefore, Italy is gradually decreasing in population. For a nation within the EU based somewhat on a capitalist system, this is terrible news. My question is: What does the Pope have to do with all this?

The Pope, as usual, seems to be sticking his finger in the wrong pie. The Pope paying specific attention to one country’s birth rate and therefore its economic status has tremendous implications. I guess my real question is: Why, after all this time, did the Italian government allow the Pope to speak?

If the Italian government had previously hoped to separate itself from the Church and therefore be religiously unbiased, what are they hoping for now? Essentially, the Pope said, “You guys need to pump out more babies so your economy can get bigger.” Can you imagine the Pope standing before Alan Greenspan saying, “Hey, you really need to revise that inflation policy of yours if you guys want to stay afloat”?

Perhaps this is a bit extreme, but hopefully you get my point. The Pope also discussed the development of the EU, paying specific attention to Poland, the Pope’s homeland, and its eventual initiation into the EU. The Pope stressed that the EU, as it grows larger, must maintain its Christian roots.

I understand that, of course, this would be a desire of the leader of the Catholic Church. Of course, the Pope wants everyone to be Christian. But this is an entirely different situation.

When the Pope stands in front of a European government and proclaims that Christianity must rule, I’m thinking 17th century. I’m thinking religious / economical / geo-political maneuvering.

In saying all this, I’m not forgetting that which Pope John Paul II has done. I’m not forgetting the role he played during the Cold War. I’m not saying the Pope, or at least this pope, is incapable of serving as an important and positive international leader. However, there must be a limit.

Take Africa, for example, and the Catholic Church’s ban on birth control. The Pope must be aware that when he says, “Do not use condoms,” he may in fact be causing the further spread of the AIDS virus.

Such a decree has a much different impact on a citizen of an undeveloped nation than on, say, an upper-middle-class American living in Dallas.

Above all issues in the world today, Africa should be at the forefront. If the Pope wants to talk about birth rates and economic development, he should be worrying about African nations that will lose most of their populations due to the AIDS virus in the next 50 years.

If the Catholic Church is going to remain an international super-conglomerate, it must move past its European ties, beyond its unrealistic moral codes and into the contemporary world.

The Catholic Church, as well as all religions, must search to serve the needs of the people that it claims to lead.

It must not, in particular, overreach its bounds, reverting back to the unbalanced and corrupt political role it played several hundred years ago.

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