Who Influences Whom...
President Bush visits the Pope in the Vatican at the start of his European trip to celebrate the June 1944 liberation of Rome and attend the D-Day anniversary ceremonies in Normandy. It seems strange to me that Bush would find it necessary to humor either himself or the pontiff in combination with honoring America's heros who fought to defeat the Axis (German and Italian) abuses against human life and dignity. I find it especially difficult to understand meeting with the leader of the religious organization that has consistently been found to protect the war criminals of World War II.
It also seems strange that President Bush would combine these honoring ceremonies with a visit to a leader who so strongly opposes the US efforts and human abuses in Iraq. President Bush is Methodist and yet he finds it required to visit at this time the leader of the church which the Methodists protested against when first forming the Methodist church. Bush and John Paul may not agree either historically or in the present, but the each finds it necessary or advantageous to join hands in our current turbulent times.
Who has the most influence over the other, I wonder?
Of course, in the Detroit Free Press article of June 3, 2004, we learn that George Bush's campaign has enlisted the help of 1000s of church congregations in distributing Republican campaign literature. This of course violates the principal of Church and State separation. While many church officials still guard against overstepping this line, President Bush's presidential campaign invites these violations.
An article from The Center For Research on Population and Security describes the Catholic connection inside the Republican party. They say that the Vatican dominated the Republican platform of 1996. It's interesting reading. Perhaps the reason Bush and John Paul disagree in public is that this public stance helps disguise the private backing he may get from the Catholic connection.
The LA Times says that not only is the United States traveling down the road dangerous to religious freedom. Latin America, including Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Although mostly Catholic countries, evangelical Prostantism (as the Bible says) are leading this church/state involvement. The evangelical governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Rosinha Matheus, has outraged scientists by authorizing public schools to teach creationism.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a practicing Catholic, courted them during his election campaign in 2002, telling one group of enthusiastic evangelical leaders that he wanted to see a Bible placed in every public school. He narrowly defeated an opponent who even more strongly mixed religion with politics.
Interestingly, although the evangelical politics is leftist in many ways, even Marxist sometimes, the religious wedge is the same as in the United States - anti-abortion, anti-gay, opposed to distributing clean needles to drug addicts, and opposed to condoms for young people in favor of "just say no" policy. These issues provide the entry for integration of church with state in all of America, both North and South in contrast to the old country (Europe) where paradoxically state religions exist but seem to be universally ignored.