I Protest!

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by Tom White

It's one thing to have to suffer the recent murderous goings-on in Iraq, largely in silence because there was no way to stop them. It's another to have an important U.S. official attempt to euchre the Vatican into seeming support of our fatally misguided president.

The official is our ambassador to the Vatican, one James Nicholson, about whom I knew nothing a few hours ago and wish I still didn't.

Nicholson has been quoted on the Catholic site, Zenit.org for April 19, 2003 as having made a set of remarks to an Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, that establish that at least one of our so-called ambassadors is capable of flat-out indecency.

It appears the Vatican never refuses "dialogue," that much-loved buzzword of our time, even with the ambassador of a nation it has excoriated for launching an invalid war. The Church never refused "dialogue" with any nation offering it in World War II or the Cold War. Whereas the U.S. has refused "dialogue" with the entire world on the issue of the attack on Iraq.

Nicholson racks up a case for the equivalency of Bush and Pope John Paul II as men who share a common view of war and what determines a necessary one:

“President Bush and the Vatican really share many things: respect for life, for the dignity of man, for religious liberty, and for human rights,” the ambassador said. “We are really close in values; we are like this.”

Nicholson addressed the difference of positions on the Iraqi conflict by referring to the Pope’s address of Jan. 13.

“When speaking to the diplomats of the whole world, the Pope said: ‘No to war. It is not always inevitable.’ On this, the United States was completely in agreement. He added: ‘War must be the last recourse.’ And on this we were also in agreement,” the ambassador said.

“A few days later, he [the Pope] spoke again on the issue: ‘war is a failure for humanity.’ We were also in agreement in this case,” Nicholson added. “Essentially, we have not been opposed to the Pope’s statements. He is a man of peace; he cannot express himself any other way. . . .

Then Nicholson makes a final claim that is some kind of high-water mark for lying:

“The United States hopes that the world will make its own the Pope’s exhortation: ‘Men must learn to live in reciprocal tolerance,’” Nicholson said. “The objective of the United States is to avoid the clash of civilizations.”

Produce a clash of civilizations and then send punk ambassadors (maybe he isn't a punk, but he'd have to prove it to me) around the world to say what you just saw isn't what you just saw. Not even the Wizard of Oz would try that one on for size.

What is quoted here is a newspaper, perhaps not all that friendly to the Church. I don't know. But Zenit is a Catholic organ. Is their method, then, to let idiots hang themselves by their own words? Or am I the only person who sees Nicholson as a slavish agent of a mad inversion of all rational thinking, engaged in a grotesque distortion of the notion of a just and/or a necessary (and therefore moral) war?

There needn't have ever been any Christ or Christianity to produce something better than Nicholson's shmooze. I submit to you it's hard to imagine any stone-age warrior or shaman who would have permitted himself this kind of slimy traduction of the truth. Or would have attempted with such unctuousness to pass it off as – God save us – diplomacy.

Tom White [send him mail] writes from Odessa, Texas.

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