With the 84-year-old Pope still suffering from the effects of flu and a recent tracheotomy, his advisors are urging him to choose his admonishments carefully. Sources close to the Pontiff say that they want him to avoid ‘wasting his breath’ on the condemnation of figures or acts that are only somewhat evil as opposed to truly evil.
The Swift Report asks: if you were the Pope, whom would you call ‘evil’ next?
By Hermione Slatkin, Health Correspondent
Vatican City—Pope John Paul II will likely need weeks of therapy to recover his speech following surgery on his windpipe, say sources close to the 84-year-old Pontiff. And with that in mind, the Pope’s advisors are cautioning him to choose his admonishments carefully, lest he ‘waste his breath’ by condemning figures or acts that are only moderately evil as opposed to truly evil.
In the coming days, the Pope’s physiotherapists will teach him to cover the tracheotomy hole in his neck with a finger while pushing air through his larynx. Next up: speech therapists will show their holy patient to articulate a vowel while exhaling, making the vocal cords vibrate and causing a basic sound to come out. Finally, the Pontiff will begin pronounce syllables, short words and brief phrases until he has resumed the capacity to speak.
Advisers to Pope: watch what you say
That long road to recovery makes it essential, say sources close to the Pope, that the still-ailing Pontiff be judicious about the individuals, acts and events that he calls evil. In the weeks leading up to his recent illness, the Pope was anything but selective with his condemnations.
In his most recent book, “Memory and Identity,” his fifth book for mass circulation, the Pope fired off a series of condemnations, calling homosexual marriages part of “a new ideology of evil.” The Pontiff also likened abortion to the Holocaust, and warned that evil lurks everywhere, even in liberal political systems.
The 'E' Word
Now, say his closest confidantes, the Pope must be far choosier before singling out whole classes of people, countries or historical moments and branding them with the ‘E’ word.
“It’s going to be very challenging for the Pope in these coming days and months,” says Marco Concetti, a regular theological commentator for the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. “In the weeks before he fell ill, the condemnations were coming thick and fast: gays, adulterers, the French. Now he’s going to have to slow down, take a deep breath and really thinks before he calls somebody or something evil.”
But while Vatican City maybe quiet these days, as advisors, friends and well-wishers wait for His Holiness to be able to return to the papal business of the day, speculation is rampant elsewhere regarding just who the Pope will condemn as soon as he has his speech back. Catholic communities around the world, many of which rely upon the Pontiff for guidance, are already debating who is likely to join the already condemned.
Meanwhile, at least one popular betting site in the UK is taking bets on just who will be the first to be called ‘evil’ once the Pope can speak again. Britons who are lucky—or perspicacious enough—to correctly predict the Pontiff’s choice will likely win hundreds of pounds.
Office pools ponder Papal choice
In the US, whole offices have caught ‘March Madness’ fever as IT departments, secretaries, even human resources professionals place their bets on just whom the Pope will admonish when he’s up and about. While the obvious suspects are on the list—abortion, polygamy, gay marriage—several long shots are proving popular as well. Among them: capital punishment, the execution of prisoners that remains popular among religious personages despite its seeming contradiction to their pro-life views. Genocide, also seen as an unlikely choice for Papal condemnation, is proving somewhat less popular among office bettors.
Recent events have also seen several newcomers join the list of potential individuals whom the Pope could potentially nominate for evilhood. One surprise entry: Michael Schiavo, the Florida man who has been trying for 15 years to remove his vegetative wife’s feeding tube so that he might marry another woman. The BTK killer is also on the list, as is Clint Eastwood, the Hollywood director who may have been favored by Oscar, but who remains the target of conservative Christian critics for his pro-euthanasia views.
You decide, we’ll report
Who do you think should be the object of the next Papal condemnation. Vote in our Swift Report poll today. Note: results of the poll will be forwarded to the Vatican communications office.