Monday, 11 June 2007


Two small footnotes to one aspect of Bush's wasteful and unnecessary visit to Rome. The day before he arrived someone scrawled an anti-Bush message on a stone designed to commemorate the murder of the Christian Democrat leader Aldo Moro and the five members of his escort by the Red Brigades, almost certainly with the connivance of some elements of the state. The message said Bush = Moro.

It would hard to imagine a more meaningless comparison. Moro was a master of the Byzantine art of Italian politics, the man who engineered the historic compromise between his own party and the Italian Communist Party, a man of culture and intellectual subtlety. I don't need to explain how far removed from all this the swaggering nincompoop who currently runs America is.

If the intention was merely to suggest that Bush should meet a similar end to Moro, of course, it's hard not to feel a little sympathy for the mystery graffitist, though I'd have appreciated something more focused. Interpretation, as we know, is all.

The other interesting thing about the business is the use by the Italian media of the word profane. Newspapers and television reporters all agree that the stone was profaned. According to Merriam-Webster, to profane is "
to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt". Moro's death was a political crime of the worst kind, the slaughter of his escort both cruel and useless. But that doesn't make him, or them, sacred. Moro wasn't a saint and his death wasn't the death of a martyr, apart from anything else because it wasn't self-willed. Moro didn't choose to die.

This inappropriate use of the word is just another example of the way the line between church and state is being blurred. As ever, to the benefit of the church.


Chancelucky said...

My theory is that my president went to Rome to see if he could get the doctrine of papal infallibility extended to the US Presidency.

One of the odder developments in the last twenty years was the seizure of my government by Evangelicals who are historically anti-catholic. I'll likely be dead before anyone can explain this well, but one of the stranger turns is that the evangelical opposition to abortion in the US somehow translated into a Supreme Court with 5 Catholic justices.
Had Kennedy tried anything like that, he might have been impeached. Bush does it at a time when participation in the Catholic Church in the US is hitting new lows and as the American church is in the midst of a major scandal over pedophile priests. Hardly anyone comments.

Charles Lambert said...

Papal infallibility is easy. You just say you've got it! That's how the pope did it, and who's to stop Bush?

The fact that the catholic church is losing consensus pretty much everywhere is what lies behind the extraordinary behaviour of Ratzinger. He's wobbling round the world (have you noticed how fat he's getting?), saying the most inflammatory things in an attempt to radicalise whatever argument he touches. That may be why there's a sort of convergence between evangelical fundamentalism and his own Prada and incense variety.