Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
SHOCK AND AWE OVER GAZA — Jonathan Cook reports from the West Bank on How the Media and Human Rights Groups Cover for Israel’s War Crimes; Jeffrey St. Clair on Why Israel is Losing; Nick Alexandrov on Honduras Five Years After the Coup; Joshua Frank on California’s Water Crisis; Ismael Hossein-Zadeh on Finance Capital and Inequality; Kathy Deacon on The Center for the Whole Person; Kim Nicolini on the Aesthetics of Jim Jarmusch. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Faltering Economic Recovery; Chris Floyd on Being Trapped in a Mad World; and Kristin Kolb on Cancer Without Melodrama.
John Ross's Living Will

Pope Ratzo and the Hucksters of Death

by JOHN ROSS

Mexico City

As the death gurgles of Terry Schiavo and Pope Wojytla grew more agitated and the media drumbeat pumped up maximum ratings for their mutually Christian agonies, some kindred soul climbed Galeras Mountain above Saltillo city in the great Coahuila desert and set fire to a 50-foot fiberglass figure of Jesus Christ. The immolation could be viewed from downtown Saltillo – only Jesus’ left arm survived the blaze. It has since become a local relic, housed in the city’s cavernous cathedral.

On the other side of the border where the United States of North America suffered an evangelical coup d’etat last November, no Jesus-burnings have yet been reported despite mounting disgust at such excesses of the Christian coup as the ugliness wafting about the human vegetable formerly known coast to coast as Terry Schiavo,

The Schiavo spectacle featured withering hatred between loved ones, demagoguery run riot, and crazed Catholic zealots, Born-Agains, and Not-Dead-Yets holy rolling around on the Florida hospice’s manicured front lawn. The 24-7 media circus was ringmastered by that indefatigueable exterminator Tom Delay of Sugarland, Texas who parlayed the hysteria into an unprecedented congressional vote that put the legislative branch on a train wreck course with the Constitution.

Perhaps the culminating moment of this reality freak show came when, flanked by burley leftist bodyguard monks from St. Paul, Terry’s parents tried to get the brain dead woman to pronounce the words "I want to live." "AHHH WAAAAAAA" was as far she got reported the Associated Press – it is not known how the agency determined the exact number of "h"s and "a"s. Although Terry was not a southern gal, the "ah wahs" have a decided downhome lilt to them and have been open to many interpretations including "ah wahnt out of here" and "ah wahnt to kill Tom Delay."

Whatever she was seeking to annunciate (the medics described it as an involuntary moan), by April Fool’s Day – assuming I was not perusing one of those joke facsimile editions of major American newspapers (remember Not-The-New York-Times?) – Schiavo was pronounced really dead. Her bereaved family celebrated her demise by leasing the list of those who contributed cash to keeping her "alive" for the past 15 years to a Christian direct mail advertiser for $4000 a month. It is reported that receipts from every Terry Schiavo tee shirt and coffee mug hawked outside the hospice were directed into the legal battle aimed at wresting the malpractice moolah from that Devil Incarnate, the evil husband Michael Schiavo.

The death carnival was full tilt in St. Peter’s Square too and the trinket venders were cleaning up on John Paul memorabilia. In the inner sanctums of the Vatican, most every political poltroon on the planet passed silently by the bier of the demised pontiff, shedding crocodile tears and stabbing each other in the back as they cloaked their sins in Wojytla’s death shroud.

With the vaults of the Bank of the Vatican reportedly bare and the Holy See running deeply in the red due to the diminishment of believers in the Roman Catholic product and humungous payouts in pederast priest scandals, the Church mavens missed a good bet by not selling tickets to these macabre events. This is not just a modest proposal – tickets to several of John Paul II’s last appearances were backed by coupons for Big Macs, and just before his death, the late Pontiff blessed 7000 cell phone photos in a last-ditch promotion to replenish emptying donation baskets.
The requiem Mass presided over by former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law would have been a big-ticket item. Law, who was forced to flee his archdiocese after evidence emerged that he moved up to 80 pederast priests from parish to parish to elude police detection, was extended sanctuary in the Vatican by the late Pope.

Protestors disrupted the mourning for John Paul to demand the ironically named Churchman be brought back to Boston to face justice.

Leading the U.S. delegation to this funerary fiesta (if leadership is to be measured by how much ink one accrues) was the unavoidable Tom Delay. The House Majority leader, who reportedly unplugged his dear old dad, a rugged oil wildcatter, after a household accident, utilized the Pope’s sarcophagus as a pulpit to rail against "activist" judges and their war on the Judeo-Christian Faith.

Sadly, there are no activist judges anymore – Bruce "Cut ‘Em Loose" Wright passed away just recently – he is the only member of the North American judiciary I would have voted to keep artificially alive.

Representative Delay’s arrival in Rome obeyed his staunch ecumenical convictions – the humility-challenged Republican’s belief system appears to be a heady mix of Apocalyptical Zionism, fundamental Jesusism, and firm faith in pest control. The Holy Land for the Texas Exterminator seems to be the launching pad for the End Times, the pathway to the Rapture, and he is, of course, a high profile partisan of Ariel Sharon and those to his right in their crusade to eradicate the pesky Palestinians as if they were so many household pests.

As the "lives" of Schiavo and Wojytla wound down, Oxfam activists installed a large billboard clock near the World Bank where the Masters of the Universe were in annual spring session. Tick Tick Tick. Oxfam advised the bigwigs that every three seconds a child dies somewhere in the world. Tick. Tick. Tick. Mostly, they die because they do not have a life support system. Tick Tick Tick. You know, stuff like air, water, food, housing, and medicine. Tick Tick Tick. Entitlements that in the third world the poor fight revolutions to obtain. Tick Tick Tick. Another kid dead. Tick Tick Tick. Another $125,000 USD gobbled up by Citigroup, a million dollar a minute corporation. Tick Tick Tick.

It is not known exactly when Pope Wojytla expired. He is believed to have been on life support for many years, pumped full of steroids and monkey glands and dopamine to control the trembles, and injected daily with the blood of virgins held captive in the Vatican basement. But the machinery was always breaking down, often before millions on television although, like the emperor and his new duds, no one dared to mention the degradation of the Pope’s mortality. Once the Clear Channel Pope, a Great Communicator of Ronald Reagan dimensions, he had slipped so deeply into dementia that he was now unintelligible in the 13 languages he allegedly once spoke. Now His Holiness was pissing all over the Popemobile and refusing to wear diapers!

That’s when Ratzinger stepped in and had his throat slit, an "emergency tracheotomy", arrrgghhh. What else could he do? The man was making a mockery of the One True Church. After that, they couldn’t even get a feeding tube down poor John Paul’s guggle.

Much as with the late Pope, it is not easy to know how many members of the College of Cardinals are maintained on life support systems but as Cardinal Ratzinger moved to grab power, at least 77 of the Men In Purple proved to be brain dead. After a few half-hearted puffs of indeterminate emissions from the famous Fumata (doesn’t the city of Rome have air pollution standards?), a member of Hitler Youth and a foot soldier in Adolph’s army who knew just where the Nazi death camps were located, was chosen as God’s representative on earth. With Arnold in the White House and Ratzinger in the Pope House, it looks like the Aryan Nation won the war after all.

Ratzinger’s selection settled over the world like a pall. Those who had anticipated a pope of color – Latin America accounts for half the Roman Catholics in this part of the galaxy – had foolishly underestimated the racism entombed in the bosom of Holy Mother Church. As dispensation to the disillusion, Chilean Cardinal Jose Agustin Medina was pushed out on the balcony to sound the time-honored cry "We have a Pope!" Cardinal Medina is (was) Augustin Pinochet’s favorite priest.

Benedictus XVI had operated as Wojytla’s ventriloquist since 1981 when he took over the Congregation for the Defense of the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Santa Inquisition, and began to dismantle Vatican II, the historic accord hammered out by the Peoples’ Pope, John XXIII, that insisted upon the Church’s option for the poor. Ratzinger’s promotion to the throne of Peter and the installation of Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank are indeed ominous tidings for the world’s poor.

Exactly how many disobedient priests were drawn and quartered or burnt at the stake during Ratzinger’s reign of terror at the Congregation is not a matter of public record but at least 140 were silenced or defrocked, precisely for espousing the Church’s option for the poor, amongst them the exalted theologian Hans Kung who once gave the then-liberal Ratzinger (he now sits to the right of Opus Dei) his first teaching job. Also bopped was the bushy-bearded Brazilian Leonardo Boff who Ratzinger silenced and drove from the Church. Boff bemoaned Ratzinger’s elevation as the worst move the Church fathers (there are no mothers) could have made. "Cardinal Ratzinger is hated by the bishops, many of whom he has publicly humiliated for years," Boff avowed in a recent El Pais interview.

As the keeper of the dogma, the Terminator Pope made a hobby out of hunting down practitioners of liberation theology. Among his trophies: the Nicaraguan poet-priest Ernesto Cardenal who Wojytla trampled into the tarmac at Managua International Airport in 1984, and Don Samuel Ruiz, the beloved bishop emeritus of Chiapas.

Ratzinger once accused the World Council of Churches of fomenting subversion in Latin America and his orthodox convictions coincide with CIA doctrine that miscreant liberationists threaten Washington’s hegemony in the Americas.

The self-anointed Benedictus XVI is a kind of Teutonic John Ashcroft who promulgates edicts barring mariachis and indigenous dancers from performing during Mass (an instruction widely disregarded in Mexico.) Ratzinger’s persecution of Don Samuel who he accused of preaching a Marxist version of the Gospel, led him to attack the indigenous church that Tatik nurtured during 40 years as head of the San Cristobal diocese as "a stalking horse for Marxism-Leninism." In his eagerness to nail Samuel to the cross, he even sent his inquisitors deep into the Lacandon jungle to gather evidence that the Bishop was ordaining women deacons.

For a quarter of a century, the new Pope has waged a personal war against syncreticism, the Indian church, woman priests, abortion providers, gays and lesbians, and above all, the Dread Condom. Although his predecessor has been nominated for sainthood for having once miraculously cured a man with terminal pain in his brain, Wojytla’s candidacy must be nullified by the millions of AIDS deaths his condemnation of condom use incurred.

Despite being dead from the neck down, the celibate Ratzinger feels so full of the Lord that he never tires of damning sexual intimacies left of the missionary position. He rails against same sex marriage, pre-marital sex, birth control pills, and the liberation of women. Nevertheless, the new Pope and his predecessor Wojytla failed to notice decades of pederasty in the priesthood on their watch, even when Father Marcial Macial, founder of the Legionnaires of Christ, was buggering small children behind locked Vatican doors. Some of Macial’s victims reported that the good father told them he had a papal dispensation to sodomize them.

In response to allegations that he had purposefully ignored Father Macial’s sins for years for fear of disaffecting John Paul who particularly favored the sodomite, Ratzinger assailed media coverage of pederast priest scandals as "an attack on the Church."

The 265th in a long line of Machiavellian tyrants, poisoners, and pederasts, Ratzinger is the wrong pope in the wrong time zone. Confronted with onrushing Islam, Ratzinger lobbied the European Union to exclude the swarthy Turks because he considered Europe to be "a Christian continent." No wonder the Gray Wolves took a shot at his pal Wojytla.

Pope Ratzo insists that the Church of Rome is the only true church, sneers at Protestant denominations as "sects", and has written that the Jews bear the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (although he doesn’t think they should have gotten the gas chamber for it.)

Perhaps the only consolation for humanity in this catastrophic appointment is that, at 78, Benedictus XVI is the oldest pontiff to be selected since the 18th century. Like many of us old people, he sometimes loses track of where he is at – often mixing up the 21st century with the Middle Ages. On the eve of the Cardinals’ conclave, he stirred souls by dissing godless Communism, apparently unaware that the Berlin Wall had come down in 1989.

The new Pope’s selective memory loss is cited by critics reviewing Ratzinger’s autobiography, which seems to omit an uncle who was in the concentration camp business and important Nazi slaughters of dissidents near his hometown in Bavaria. Nor does the volume mention his ties to Bank of Vatican insider Roberto Calvi, found dangling from London’s Blackfriers r Bridge in 1984.

Although Ratzinger was low down on the papal totem pole when John Paul I, the last Italian pope, came to the throne in 1978, his Borgia-esque death 30 days later propelled both Wojytla and Ratzinger into the papacy.

It is not known at what level of the living dead the new pope functions – he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1991 and his health is not robust. Moreover, stocks of virgin blood stored in the Vatican basement have been greatly diminished by prolonged efforts to keep John Paul II "alive." That famous Not-the-New York Times headline after the first Pope John Paul took a dive, may soon be revived: "POPE DIES AGAIN!"

All of this shameless huckstering of death and dying has made drawing up one’s living will an urgent priority. To my mind, these living wills should be transformed into political manifestoes, our final rant to the rest of the world, and a call for direct action. Why lay around dying at home when you can be out there dedicating your corporeal remains to smashing the church and the state!

Here is my living will.

"When I, JOHN ROSS, become so debilitated by terminal illness, and the consumption of opiate-derived drugs no longer quells the pain, and/or when I am rendered helpless by disease, intentional violence, or a freak accident, I ask that a guardian be appointed who will strap dynamite to my cadaver, wheel me to the designated capitalist target and light the fuse.

"The burning of my body Bonze-style would be an acceptable alternative to such sabotage but only if I am propped up in front of a recognizable emblem of U.S. imperialist domination while I roast.

"Say no to war and world hunger, racism, sexism, Capitalism, and all other isms that get in the way of the peoples’ struggle to control their own destinies. There is no peace without justice. Hasta La Victoria Siempre! Bye Bye."

JOHN ROSS is a 2005 recipient of the Upton Sinclair "Uppie" Award presented by the southern California chapter of the ACLU, for his latest instant cult classic "Murdered By Capitalism: A Memoir of 150 Years of Life & Death on the U.S. Left"