A recent piece at CNN's Belief Blog really needs to be retitled. Instead of "5 Things You Didn't Know about Popes and Presidents" it should be "A few things Blitzer and Kennedy were ignorant of." The piece does a decent job further demonstrating how ignorant and foolish people can be. My opinion of Wolf Blitzer has been pretty low for quite a while so his assertions (along with co-author Kennedy) didn't surprise me. Their list of five things do actually contain some facts but are presented in rather skewed ways. Of course, a few on the list are not factual but rather dubious opinions based on personal preferences and omission of facts.
The five are:
1. George Washington banned the burning of papal effigies
2. A pope almost recognized the Confederacy
3. The Vatican helped end the Cuban Missile Crisis
4. The United States didn’t have a Vatican ambassador until 1984
5. Pope John Paul II tried to prevent the Iraq War
1, 2, and 4 are not debatable in terms of the historical record. Why they matter and to what extent they matter can and have been argued. 3 and 5 are the ones I found most interesting given that there is really no substantial support for either claims especially in the manner they are proclaimed. Somehow, the fact that the Pope made a public statement about peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis automatically means the leaders involved actually took it to heart. Huh?! Lots of prominent religious, social, and political leaders from around the world made similar calls for calmer relations during the crisis. How does the Pope's rise above all the others? The same is true regarding the Iraq War. Although, in relation to the Iraq war it is possible that the Pope could have done more. He never went beyond statements despite the sway that religious figures had with the Whitehouse in foreign policy. Odds are that Bush & Co. would have ignored him on this particular set of foreign policy issues but he could have tried more. He didn't. Personally, I prefer religious leaders stay the fuck out of politics completely.
Overall, the piece doesn't reveal much beyond the lack of knowledge and insight of it s authors.