President Bush, in meeting with the Pope at the Vatican, said "that we appreciate the strong symbol of freedom that you have stood for," and presented the pontiff with America's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Maybe I’m picky about language, but I had thought that the Pope was actually a strong symbol of the Catholic Church, God’s medium to the masses. I’m wondering, exactly, what freedom Bush is alluding to. Freedom of worship? Well, no, see the Pope heads the Catholic Church. He is the living embodiment of what he sees as the one true faith. Freedom of lifestyle? Again, no, he’s sort of against gay rights, and has very firm ideas on morality in general. It must be freedom to wage war, but then again even here there’s a gray area. See, the Pope has actually been adamantly against the war with Iraq, and is antiwar as a matter of policy. And, given the recent scandal within the Catholic Church of priest abuse of young parishioners, I’m foggy on which freedom the President was referring to.
This is not a diatribe against the Catholic Church. Although personally I think the religion is a tad dogmatic and resistant to change, the Pope is, for many people, one of the central figures in their life. Religion is something I’m skeptical of as a rule, faith, true faith, is something I am in awe of. The Pope is clearly a man of powerful faith. This is by no means an indictment of the Catholic Church, rather another example of my President’s elastic relationship with language. He has convinced himself that the war in Iraq is a war for freedom (what freedom, exactly, is of no concern or consequence, because freedom is just vague enough to umbrella anything he chooses), and because, like the Pope, he too is a leader of many, then obviously they share something in common. It must be freedom! The Pope, as far as I can tell, is a highly intelligent and highly compassionate man. He seems to feel at a remarkably deep level. He is fallable, certainly, and the abuse scandal was unforgivable, but usually where he comes into conflict with the world outside his doors is due to the strictures of his own faith. (Perhaps that's what the Pope and this President have in common.) His version of freedom, if indeed it’s even proper to call it that, is a sort of spiritual freedom, bound within the tenets of the Catholic faith. The President’s isn’t anything of the sort. One is a leader of souls, the other is a supposed to be a leader of men, in all varieties and variations. But sadly, to Bush, they stand on common ground.