Thursday this week is the feast day of John Paul II. In many ways he was a great man. I admire his stand against war. If only those pious Christians Bush and Blair had listened to him. But I can never get over the Vatican’s failure, to say the least, to address the atrocities that occurred in Chile and Argentina during the Cold War. In fact, the Vatican certainly gave every appearance of warmly supporting them. You don’t have to be a Marxist to recoil in horror at the memory of the dreadful things that happened. Wikileaks revealed how the Vatican dismissed the horrific reports coming out of Chile as Marxist propaganda. John Paul stood shoulder to shoulder with Pinochet on the balcony of the Moneda Palace and gave him communion with his own hand. What kind of a church was this that excommunicated desperate girls who had abortions but applauded disappearers and torturers? Pio Larghi, the papal nuncio in Argentina was given a list of those to be disappeared every week to make sure no rebellious children of prominent supporters of the regime had got onto to it by mistake. The Vatican stretched every diplomatic muscle to prevent Pinochet being arraigned for human rights abuses when he was detained in Britain. What an opportunity was lost. These were Catholic countries. The Pope should have unequivocally condemned the human rights abuses on the one hand and exhorted the left wing not to resort to violence on the other. The Vatican must have known the part that the United States Government was playing in it all. If the Pope had appealed to the people of the United States how many there would have put pressure on their own government to put pressure on the Chilean and Argentinian governments to bring about a Christian compromise solution to the situation.? To me John Paul’s role in all this is utterly deplorable. Am I wrong? I’ve never met anybody who has persuaded me otherwise, eager as a devoted Catholic as I am to be persuaded. I hope John Paul is in heaven whatever that means. But don’t hold him up as an example for us all to emulate.