An article published in the official Vatican newspaper, Osservatore Romano, officially "forgave" John Lennon for the infamous comments made in 1966 about the Beatles being "more popular than Jesus" with young people around the world. The editorial said the remark was the boast of a young working-class Englishman faced with the flush of unexpected success, implying it was made more in ignorance than with any blasphemous intent.
I'm sure that's a great load off the minds of all of Lennon's surviving family members knowing that he's been forgiven by the Vatican. They must have been frantic with worry. Maybe it was more than a little condescending, but it still wipes his slate clean with the Pope which means… well, actually it means dick all. Talk about a load of sanctimonious bullshit. As if anyone cares anymore what Lennon said forty-two years ago. It smacks of a cheap attempt by the folk in the Vatican to show that they are wise and benevolent without actually having to do anything.
Sure, at the time it raised quite a stink when Lennon made his remarks. He never meant they were more important — which was how the idiots interpreted his comment — but more popular, and there's a good chance he was right. In 1966 if you asked the average teenager if he would rather sit and read a parable by Jesus or listen to a cut from Help, I bet the majority would have picked the latter. Heck, ask the average young person today if they would rather watch an episode of The Simpsons or sit down with the New Testament and see what kind of reaction you get.
Of course I always find it hugely ironic whenever the good folk in the Vatican try to stumble up to the moral high ground and make these sorts of groundless statements. After all this is the same church who funded a poster campaign in Tanzania claiming that condom use leads to death. Considering that one in ten adults in that country's capital city Dar are infected with the HIV/AIDS you'd figure it was the other way around, but maybe their logic is different.
Of course we shouldn't be so surprised when they come up with stuff like this as the Catholic Church's track record when it comes to moral issues has been, how shall we put it, spotty at best. It, along with the conservative Christian Protestant churches and hardline Muslim leaders have led the war against teaching people how to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout Africa and South-East Asia.
First of all, it's sinful to have sex before marriage so you can't tell people how to safely have sex with someone who they aren't married to. Besides that, safe sex means using condoms, and using condoms prevents a woman from becoming pregnant which defeats the only purpose of sex: procreation. If you happen to have fun while attempting to have a baby, that's forgivable (heck, if they can forgive John Lennon they can forgive you that), but heaven help you if you decide you want to have sex just because you love the other person but don't want to have a baby.
Of course the institution has always made stellar contributions to the spread of disease, overpopulation, and famine. The people in Calcutta who really deserve beatification are the ones handing out condoms and teaching women that they don't have to baby machines, not the person encouraging them to make souls for God. Jesus taught that we should walk in another person's shoes and try to understand what they were experiencing in order that we might be more compassionate to their needs. I can't see how encouraging people who have to beg for a living to have babies is being compassionate.
How can an institution like the Catholic Church that has ordered people to be burnt alive for their beliefs, encouraged the faithful to kill those who didn't worship the same God, and been responsible for cultural and actual genocide among indigenous people the world over, without ever asking for forgiveness itself, presume to sit in judgement on others? Oh sure the Church admitted that "mistakes were made in the past", but it doesn't seem to have learned from them or be particularly troubled by them.
If the Vatican was genuine in its regret for past actions that saw millions of people persecuted would they send letters filled with veiled threats to countries passing legislation legalizing same sex marriages? Would they allow clergy to openly advocate the criminalization of homosexuality as the Bishop of Alberta, a province in Canada, did in the run up to Canada legalizing same sex marriage? Would they cover up child abuse by priests to protect the Church's "good name" as they did most recently in New England? That behaviour might not sound as heinous as the Inquisition to you, but ask the parents of any of the abused children how they feel and I'm betting they're not too happy with the church as an institution.
While Catholicism has the potential to be a beautiful religion, and there are people around the world who are Catholic who do their best to fulfill that potential, the institution itself has yet to live up that promise. Instead of issuing statements of forgiveness for matters nobody gives a damn about, maybe they should start figuring out ways of earning the forgiveness of all those they've caused damage to over the years.
When Jesus Christ said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", he was telling us don't be so quick to judge others because we've all got our dirty little secrets. The Catholic Church is no different from the rest of us and has no right to pass judgment on anyone or anything.