It's funny how news can take you by surprise. I had planned on writing about all the amazing things that have happened since Donald Trump's election and - what do you know! - Fidel Castro drops dead.
Is there no limit to what the Trumpening can bring?
I see that Drudge has taken his obligatory swipe at Pope Francis, as usual using a tart headline from someone else to do it.
The implication that there's something wrong about the Pope praying for an atheist may score points in some circles, but only among those with a profound misunderstanding of how forgiveness works.
Pope Francis contains multitudes. One minute he seems to be embracing the worst stereotypes of Jesuit Marxism, the next minute he staunchly defends doctrine regarding male clergy and the evil of abortion.
In terms of his dealings with Castro, I think His Holiness sincerely hoped the Cuban dictator would make a public reversion (he was baptized Catholic back in the day) and ask for forgiveness. It would have been a powerful moment, a modern equivalent to Henry IV standing in the snow at Canossa.
At a time when the Church's teachings are under unceasing progressive assault, how striking would be for the most culturally hip living Marxist to publicly repent of his crimes.
The two spoke together and Castro may well have hinted that he would consider it.
The other day, I was part of a group discussion about forgiveness, and the question was broached as to whether some sins were too great for God to forgive. Of course the answer is "no," and the example I gave was that if Josef Stalin on his deathbed suddenly repented and offered sincere and complete contrition before life left him, would he be saved?
According to Church teachings, yes. I remarked that this would be hard for us to accept because of the millions of people he tormented and killed. Our own sense of justice demands that he burn in hell.
The same applies to Castro. People rejoice at his death and no doubt many (particularly on the right) hope that his stay in the Inferno is particularly unpleasant. For the Pope to publicly express sorrow seems utterly wrongheaded. So much so, that many people will use the Pope's sorrow as proof of his unfitness for the Throne of St. Peter rather than considering their own failings.
Forgiveness is hard, probably the hardest thing there is. I'm crappy at it and freely admit it. I can't actually bring myself to type the words "rest in peace" in association with Fidel Castro because I don't want him to find peace. I could put that in this blog, but it would be a lie, which to me only compounds the sin.
So I can't help but admire someone who can sincerely mean it. Then again, that's why he's the Pope and I'm not.
BONUS POLITICAL TAKE: Sorry to lower the discussion, but I also have to say that Obama is really, really going to relish the opportunity to attend Castro's state funeral and eulogize the dictator. His speech writers are no doubt already at work trying to figure out how they can put backhanded swipes at the US in the text just to piss of the people who dared to ruin his legacy. I'm bad at forgiveness, but I can't hold a candle to our Grudge-Holder in Chief.