Monthly Archives: December 2003

Just when it looked like the Roman Catholic Church had lost all of sense of moral authority, along comes a Cardinal –like a magician with rabbit — to pull a little gravitas out of a hat.

Or rather a “spider hole.”

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A top Vatican (news – web sites) official said Tuesday he felt pity and compassion for Saddam Hussein (news – web sites) and criticized the U.S. military for showing video footage of him being treated “like a cow.”

Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department and a former papal envoy to the United Nations (news – web sites), told a news conference it would be “illusory” to think the arrest of the former Iraqi president would heal all the damage caused by a war which the Holy See opposed.

Well the Holy Father is certainly right on that score. As for the rest, I’m not so sure. . .

“I felt pity to see this man destroyed, (the military) looking at his teeth as if he were a cow. They could have spared us these pictures,” he said.

I’m sorry Father, but they really couldn’t have. After Nick Nolte, Michael Jackson and Glen Campbell, Saddam’s “mug shot” only goes to prove John Waters’ dictum “Everyone looks better under arrest” right once again.

Of course the noted filmmaker/bon vivant meant “better” as a relative term. “Truer” would be more to the point. A dazed and confused Nick Nolte, picked up by the police wandering on the Pacific Coast Highway,suggested more of the true beat spirit in his “mug” than his entire performance as Neal Cassidy in the (now nearly forgotten) film Heatbeat. Likewise Michael Jackson’s morphing from what was once a rather handsome black boy into white woman suggestive of the late Carol Matthau — on the “Roofies” that felled Nolte.

As for Glen Campbell, the snarling pit bull beneath the mask of affability (“Hi, I’m Glen Campbell!”) was something those who’ve followed his career has always sensed was there from the start. But it took an arrest to reveal it.

And so it goes with the newly-bovine Saddam.

“Seeing him like this, a man in his tragedy, despite all the heavy blame he bears, I had a sense of compassion for him,” he said in answer to questions about Saddam’s arrest.

Martino was referring to the videotape released by the U.S. military which showed a grubby, bearded and disheveled Saddam receiving a medical examination by a military doctor after his capture in an underground hole Saturday.

Martino was one of the Vatican officials most strongly opposed to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (news – web sites).

“It’s true that we should be happy that this (arrest) has come about because it is the watershed that was necessary… we hope that this will not have worse and other serious consequences,” Martino said.

Well the upwards of 9 thousand Iraqis we’ve slaughtered in “shock and awe” in order to trap this cow is pretty damned serious.

“But it is not the total solution to the problems of the Middle East,” he said.

Be sure to tell that to CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX, Father.

Martino said the Vatican hoped the arrest of Saddam “can contribute to promoting peace and the democratization of Iraq.”

He added: “But is seems to me to be illusory to hope that this will repair the dramas and the damage of the defeat for humanity that a war always brings about.”


The Vatican did not consider the war in Iraq “a just war” because it was not backed by the United Nations and because the Vatican believed more negotiations were necessary to avoid it.

Martino said the Vatican wanted an “appropriate institution” to put Saddam on trial but he did not elaborate.

Judge Judy?

U.S. forces were keeping the ousted 66-year-old dictator at a secret location for interrogation before he is put on trial in the months ahead. He could face the death penalty.

The news conference was called for Martino to present the World Day of Peace message, in which Pope John Paul (news – web sites) took a swipe at the United States for invading Iraq without the backing of the United Nations.

But while we’re sure to see plenty of Saddam — a cow Disney never dreamed of — there’s one thing we won’t be seeing on theater screens: Ewan McGregor’s penis.

While the noted Scottish actor has appeared in the altogether on many occasions in the past (most memorably in Velvet Goldmine) the MPAA in its infiite lack of wisdom has decreed that shots of the male member now qualify films for the dreaded NC-17 rating. And as everyone knows few theaters will show NC-17 films and “Blockbuster” video retailers won’t stock them. Smaller companies with problematic product have simply declined to allow their films to be rated — thus cutting into potential profits. Hence the quandary created by the appearance of Ewan in the altogether in The Young Adam — the film version of Alexander Trocchi’s novel co-starring the ever-adventurous Tilda Swinton

“If I’d blown away 5,000 people with a semiautomatic machine gun, that would be fine. But I showed my penis,” MacGregor recently told Premiere Magazine, adding, “If you want to see my penis, you’ll have to fly to Britain…”

But hold on Ewan — It’s the Internet to the Rescue!

I wonder what the Vatican will have to say about that.

(As if it didn’t already have WAY too many “image” problems.)