A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

And I'm Back

Sorry, rather busy the last few days. What better way to come back, though, than to announce that we have a new Pope. Just heard the word. We don't know who he is yet, though.

A while back, Jack and I and a few others, were discussing whether elected officials deserved respect simply because they were elected-- regardless of whether you voted for or against them or didn't vote at all. The consensus was that the office of an elected official deserves respect regardless of who currently occupies that office. The President of the United States is always due respect, even if you disagree with every policy that a particular President espouses, and even if you despise the man in the office as a person. Clinton and Bush pretty well sum that argument up. Regardless of what you think of Clinton or Bush, there is a certain respect due to them because of the office they occupy.

The consensus was also that monarchs and other non-elected regents and/or heads of state are not due such respect. They have no mandate beyond that which they generate for themselves, as their position is entirely a result of lineage and has nothing to do with merit. This is particularly true if the head of state is not from your country. Which is to say, that for the English, Queen Elizabeth garners a measure of respect and venerance because she is the symbolic head of their country. Not so for citizens of other countries, though I suspect that most people would feel some sort of awe or veneration in her presence simply because of the weight of history that she carries on her shoulders.

But what of popes? They are elected, sort of, but it certainly isn't democratic, or even representative of the Church, given that the U.S. had over 10% of the delegation, but American Catholics constitute only 6-7% of the total number of Catholics worldwide. Is the Pope due respect and reverence simply because of the office he occupies? I think he is, in part because there is an election of sorts, but more so because of the weight of history and responsibility he carries on his shoulders. To be the leader of over 1 billion people is... impossible for me to imagine, really, and I doubt the Pope himself thinks of it in those terms very often, but still....

So, what do you guys think? Is the Pope due respect simply because he is the Pope?
Every person deserves respect, until they do something to lose that privilege. Some, who whether you agree with them or not, have dedicated themselves to the service of others, deserve an extra measure of respect.

So, although I loathe Teddy Kennedy, were I ever to meet him, I'd be respectful. His service as a US Senator has earned him that.

I don't have to respect that bloated, murdering, red-faced alcoholic, ranting imbecile in cyberspace, though.

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