Showdown in St. Louis!
A duel of duo dichotomies begins today with the hour meeting of Pope John Paul II and William Jefferson Clinton, current president of the United States at St. Louis' International Lambert Field. Maybe it's appropriate that this dueling diatribe will be in a "hanger" for the latter has hung himself out for a stern rebuke due to his immoral policies and amoral conscience. Over his twenty-year pontificate Holy Father has dealt with the likes of some pretty tough characters from Mikael Gorbachev to Fidel Castro, but few offer the kind of challenge Clinton projects. The Pope is all about sincerity; Clinton insincerity. The Pope represents the Sanctity of Life; Clinton the culture of death. The Pope is the icon of truth; Clinton is synonomous with lies. The Pope puts an importance on his roots with the Poles; Clinton's puts too much importance in the polls. The Pope represents 61,563,769 United States Catholics; Clinton will listen! Clinton has flirted with the Catholic vote, playing on the generational Democratic appeal of the blue-collar worker. Yet, he slaps Roman Catholics in the face with his immoral lifestyle and disregard for the sanctity of life. If one tenth of the Catholic population had voted their conscience in 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton would be nothing but a footnote in history as yet another unsuccessful presidential candidate. Sadly, too many Catholics vote with their hearts and minds on their pocketbooks and the "good life" which flies in the face of what Jesus commands and the theme of the Holy Father's pulpit over the last two decades. The Bishop of Rome realizes Christ's words from Matthew 26: 11 and Mark 14: 7, "For the poor you have always with you..." and Our Lord's directive in Matthew 19: 21 and Mark 10: 21, "One thing is lacking to thee; go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me."
Sadly, too many Catholics today fail to realize you can't take it with you. As Americans we are truly spoiled. With the exception of pocket areas in this country and in our urban areas, we do not know want, we do not know the ravages of war and pestilence, we do not know what poverty truly is. We have no concept what it means to be hungry. Oh, our sons will say they're hungry and will starve to death unless they get some pizza. But offer them a piece of bread and a glass of water instead and they'll retort, "Nah, I'm not hungry anymore!" If they truly knew what it was to starve, they'd waffle down the bread and water like hungry cretins. But we have no idea, just as Bill Clinton has no idea when it comes to understanding, dealing with and complying to the Holy Father's request to have compassion on the poor of the world. The Pope has been hammering home the philosophy and theology of reconciliation and making amends, specifically decrying the Third World countries' plight. His hope is to effectively convince the haves to help the have-nots and wipe the slate clean of debt and famine as the world heads into a new millennium. He has asked advanced nations who are well-off to forgive the debts of Third World impoverished countries. He has come to "preach the gospel to the poor" (ref. Luke 4: 18). You can bet your bottom dollar he will bring up this refrain when speaking with the leader of the most advanced, richest nation on the face of the earth. How will Clinton respond? We hope in a positive, accepting manner. But knowing his track history he'll give his Holiness plenty of lip service and glad handing but ignore the Sovereign Pontiff's appeal with the excuse that the national economy will suffer and security would be at stake if the US forgave all debts and lifted the enforced embargoes on the Iraqi and Cuban people, not to mention America's treatment of the situation in many African countries and the former Yugoslavia. Hopefully the Holy Father will somehow get through the thick skull of the man from Arkansas and convince him it is the right thing to do. We can always pray that John Paul II, as he has done with so many millions over the years, including crusted, hard-line leaders of nations and philosophies, will appeal to the inner sensibilities of Bill Clinton and that somewhere, somehow he will touch a nerve of goodness and decency in this man. After all with a man born in Hope, Arkansas there has to be hope!
Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall of that St. Louis hanger? We doubt Monica Lewinsky will be discussed, though we know the Pope will be thinking of another Monica - Saint Monica and emulate her resolve of praying for her wayward son Saint Augustine. The Holy Father knows it's never too late for anyone and that's why we continue to pray daily that Bill Clinton will see the light and amend his ways before he has to stand before the Great Judge to account for the millions he has scandalized and deceived. You know the Pope is going to bring up abortion, assisted suicide, bombing aggression in the mid-east, and quite possibly the whole gay acceptance thing. Clinton won't admit it publicly but we suspect he's in for a gentle, but firm tongue-lashing by the most respected man in the world. We suspect the Holy Father will tweak the conscience of Clinton and Americans in general to do the right thing for to continue the course we are on now is certain suicide. Greece and Rome proved this. It is not the manner of this gentle Polish Pope to berate someone but we suspect he will greatly challenge Clinton and his administration, as well as the people of this great land.
There is expected to be 600,000 to 700,000 people turning out to greet the Holy Father in the Gateway City. We doubt Clinton could draw one one-hundredth of that amount. Therefore, we hope he keeps in mind the people are not there to see him, but rather a man they deeply admire and respect - the Sovereign Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church - the "Apostle of Hope" for the world. While the Pope and the President are in this celebrated confab, we wonder if Clinton will apologize for receiving Holy Communion in South Africa last year. Quite possibly the Vicar of Christ will impress on him the sacredness of this sacrament and that it was a slap in the face to Catholics the world over for him to have trivialized such an important rite of the Church. It is no coincidence this meeting is taking place at the gateway to the west - where settlers set out over a century ago to tackle the wild west. Gary Cooper had his "High Noon;" now Wild Bill Clinton, the gunslinger who has carelessly and brazenly fired bullets of immorality and lies, will meet his match and more when he meets the "Sheriff of Rome" in this long-awaited, inevitable "Showdown in St. Louis!"