Sunday, April 10, 2005

Not head of my state

Am I the only one incensed by flags at half staff for the Pope? It was subtle at first, a flag here, a flag there. I started noticing it on the way home from work last week at various business. I thought to myself, "Relax, those may be privately owned businesses. The owners may be Catholic. Who am I to second guess?" Then it cropped up more and more until Thursday when I noticed the flags at half staff at public schools. EXCUSE ME!?? When I went to mail some letters at the Post Office, I took the opportunity to ask the man collecting mail, "Were you ordered to fly the flag at half staff for the Pope?" You can't get mad at civil servants who do what they are told. He looked at me with that apologetic look and said, "Yes Mam." I said, "Excuse me?" As I slowly drove off incredulously, he said, "Head of state." I shot back, "He's not the head of MY state."

I was furious. How dare the president make such an order of a foreign religious leader? The only reason HAS to be political. For the Catholic (pro-life, anti stem-cell, pro tuition tax credits) vote? When the head of my church dies, I doubt that Bush or the standing president orders flags at half staff. After all, the head of my church is the friggin' Queen of England. You don't lower the flag for a foreign leader for whom you once threw tea overboard. It just wouldn't be right. But it's ok to do so for a Polish/Italian/religious leader? Do we lower the flag for the head of the Muslims, the Jews, the Baptists, the Druids? It's just not right.

The problem is most of us who are not Catholic see The Pope as a man voted on by men. He is not a saint, but even if he were, you don't lower the US flag for saints. Ok, he did some good things, not so good things. (I side with Clinton's remarks, but that's not the point of this blog.) I truly respect others for their feelings toward their leaders, but to lower the United States flag is totally outrageous. Tell me it's not for 30 days. I hated Ronald Reagan but totally understood why flags were at half staff for a US President. I can name a few wonderful leaders who should be afforded the same respect: Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Oprah Winfrey. So if we start lowering the flag for the Pope, where does it stop? Who gets to decide?


At 12:23 AM, Blogger Sarahlynn said...

Yes yes yes! This guy has no more significance for me than the leader (President? Prime Minister? Evil Dictator?) of West Xylophone, but I have to hear as much about his illness and death as if he were President of my own country.

Every week I hear news about the local archdiocese and I don't even think I should have to know that I live in an archdiocese. After all, how many Catholics know which Presbytery we live in? Right.

And this Pope? Oooooh, he was against poverty. Great. But he also carries a lot of blame for the AIDS epidemic in Africa. There are more Catholics in the Southern hemisphere (Africa, S. America) today than in the Northern hemisphere. The most dangerous thing a West African woman can do is to get married - it's a death sentence. AIDS is killing unbelievable numbers of Africans, especially women, but the Pope told these people that they should not use condoms. Fury, rage, and rasberries.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger B. said...

I was raised Catholic in a south side Chicago neighborhood that was so Catholic that I was 12 years old before I realized there were any other religions. I completely agree with what you have said about the flags at half-mast and the Pope. Everywhere in Chicago and the suburbs, flags were flying half-mast and I got more and more annoyed with each one. Frankly, by the time of his funeral, I had major Pope fatigue. That business of allowing Boston cardinal who didn't do anything to prevent the abuse there to say mass at the Vatican was also disgusting. Can you tell I am a lapsed Catholic!?

Btw, I stumbled on your blog a few months ago and it is great! I quote you to my liberal friends. Sometimes we feel so alone in these dark days. It's nice to know others of our kind are out there. Thanks.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Diann said...

Who does decide about the flags? We had a popular sheriff die here and I thought the flags were for him so imagine my surprise when I read your blog! I need to go ask the postmaster about it. The pope was off my radar completely. I'm an EX catholic and they get no notice from me for their male, chauvinistic, pedophiliac, sick, disgusting, institution. My biggest dilemma in life is that most of my relatives and in laws still follow that crap. Makes for interesting dinner conversation.


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