[extropy-chat] embedded in open hearts

Amara Graps Amara.Graps at ifsi.rm.cnr.it
Fri Apr 8 13:06:19 UTC 2005

Olga :
>I don't get the pope.  If I were to play a
>pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey-type of game substituting, for
>the donkey, one of the doorways of the 38 units in the
>condo building where I live, I would have a good chance
>of blindly picking  a less dangerous, more compassionate
>and more intelligent human being than the pope ever was.

Dear Olga,

I asked some of my (Italian) friends and colleagues:

"Why do you think that the Pope was so popular?"

And  their answers were roughly :

"Ignoring the religious aspects, he was a sympathetic

"He reached out to people." (Meaning he was always trying
to connect to all, on whatever scale or level was
necessary to make it work.)

"He was consistent." (You always knew where he stood,
which is helpful for people who are very frightnened of

"He was _not_  interested in Italian politics." (this
is very important to Italians)

"He was strongly anti-war."

"He was strongly anti-communism."

On the latter point, I'd like to add a note that in the
former communism countries, religion could not be freely
practiced, so that freedom of religion went hand-in-hand
with freedom of every kind.


Since Rome was shut down today for the Pope's funeral, 
I worked at home and watched the funeral on TV, and some
things struck me about the audience in San Pietro Piazza:

* Heads of countries all over the world were present,
_sitting together_ in one little area. East and West,
Christian and nonChristian (Muslim countries sent their
heads-of-state). Remarkable scene.

* Many many young people. Wow.

If someone could have bottled up JPII's vigor (before he
was ill), and charisma, they would be very wealthy. He
seemed to have touched many on a deep level, and many
people felt very connected to him.


One of the biggest topics of conversations (and news
items) is who might be the next Pope. The person chosen
is usually unexpected, but I'm hearing a consensus that
someone from South America would be a good choice for
this time. So what is the Catholic Church like in South
America? One conversation I had with someone makes me
think that it might not be as rigid as the Catholc Church
in the Northern hemishere.

Our conversation was about the very religious sister of
my Italian friend who is part of an effort in Genova to
help families arriving from Ecuador. There is a long
relationship between the Liguria region and the Pacific
side of South America. The families arriving from Ecuador
are mostly Inca-descendants and very very Catholic. My
friend's sister was shocked at the sexual behavior of the
Ecuador families because they have sexual relations
freely between all of the family males and females to the
point that the mothers are unable to know who is the
father of that child. The families were surprised to
learn that this is a problem for the Ligurian Catholics
(and religion in general). Apparently the Catholic Church
in Ecuador accepted these sexual practices.

For me, after this week of observing this Catholic stuff
and listening and being 'embedded' in various ways in the
traditions of the passing Pope, I think it is a good idea
to keep an open mind, collect and synthesize information and
be a good listening ear and helpful, when possible.
Don't assume that the Catholics of the world are your enemies 
or against you. Talk with them from your heart.

Amara Graps, PhD
Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario (IFSI)
Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF), 
Adjunct Assistant Professor Astronomy, AUR, 
Roma, ITALIA     Amara.Graps at ifsi.rm.cnr.it  

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