For the same reasons I was disappointed in Pope Benedict’s failure to meet with any dissidents on his trip to Cuba, I looked forward to hearing a defense of the Benedict / Ortega / Wenski position, especially from people I respect. I saw it as part of the process of moving on from my anger and frustration over the Papal visit. Maybe I just need to read more, but I the ones I’ve read so far are making it worse.
The reason is that instead of tackling THE tough issue, the failure to meet with any dissidents, the Papal defenders I’ve read are engaging in Obamanesque techniques. Our president’s tactic of picking the most irresponsible sounding argument on the other side, attribute it to ‘some people say’ and focusing his rebuttal on that point. For those in politics, I dislike it, but get the why. But for those in the blogosphere, why be in the blogosphere if you can’t give the tough arguments your best shot?
Typical of this non-defense was an editorial on the Papal visit by The National Catholic Register. The editorial by the liberal Catholic publication literally did not mention dissidents. It did however begin a sentence with, “While many Cubans hoped the Holy Father would offer a more explicit critique of the island’s totalitarian government,” and then noted that the Pope did criticize Marxism from Mexico in a “widely reported statement.”
There’s a reason none of our bible readings note how Jesus left strongly worded memos to be read at an appropriate time.
So I will continue to be on the lookout for defenses of the Papal trip. In the meantime, be on the lookout for these straw men-type arguments:
- “It’s easy to criticize from the outside” — Is the problem the criticism or that it’s easy? Why focus on the relative effort required to make the criticism? If the nature of the criticism is to give voice to those who are suffering in Cuba, the dissidents, then is it really a criticism from the outside?
- Please stop comparing Benedict in Cuba to Jesus [not necessarily a straw man, just my plea] — It’s an embarrassing reach. It would be an unfair comparison for anyone, but especially a Pope who gave a disingenuous excuse [lack of time] for not meeting with any dissidents while taking time to meet with the out of power Castro and comment on the political issue of most value to his hosts [embargo].
- “Cubans in Miami hoped that the Pope would criticize the regime.” — Yes we did. Does that type of hope invalidate other hopes? Like the Vicar of Christ meeting with any of the oppressed? Yeah we hope for a lot of things which don’t happen, i.e. Manning to the Dolphins. What about the dissidents?
- “We don’t know what’s going on internally,” so we should reserve our judgments [p1] — If the reason we don’t know is that the regime — which Benedict notes “no longer responds to reality” — makes every effort to conceal that reality, why wouldn’t that be cause for alarm instead of patience?
- “We don’t know what’s going on internally,” so we should trust the Catholic Church in Cuba to do the right thing [p2] — I believe that how my Church works best is by actively responding to the concerns of its flock. I don’t understand how any Catholic in this period of time following the sex abuse scandals would advocate a “trust us” position given circumstances which appear at odds with Christian values. In my opinion, watching the Cuban Catholic Church ignore Las Damas de Blanco and not ask ‘what’s going on,’ is the equivalent of watching an altar server leave a sacristy in tears and thinking it unnecessary to ask ‘what’s going on.’
Does the Cuban Catholic Church need VIRTUS training? Exactly how many additional parishes make it worth sacrificing part of the Church’s reputation as standing with the oppressed. How much hope do you think dissident Chinese Catholics are feeling today? How could Pope Benedict not meet with any dissidents? What’s going on?