It was only minutes after Pope Benedict XVI was violently attacked on Christmas Eve by a woman described by authorities as mentally deranged, but leftist blogs lit up with joy over the assault.
The Daily Kos’s “Late Afternoon/Early Evening Open Thread,” for example, featured this posting at 8:10 PM Eastern Time: “Having just about enough of this male dominance bull---t, one bold Italian woman ran up and knocked down the Pope and a Cardinal!”
The woman, Susanna Maiolo, 25, was actually Swiss-Italian, and while the Pontiff himself came out of the episode unhurt and able to complete his celebration of Midnight Mass, 87-year-old French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray was left with broken bones requiring hip replacement surgery.
The comments that soon appeared on blogs known to be critical of the social teachings of the Catholic Church were so harsh that even fellow bloggers of similar ideological bent were outraged.
In a Dec. 26 a Daily Kos article entitled “Anti-Catholicism,” a “former Republican” Catholic woman and “forester/biologist” from the Deep South wrote, “I logged onto HuffingtonPost.com and read about the Pope getting knocked over by a mentally disturbed woman.
While several people pointed out the Pope’s age and how this could have easily resulted in a broken hip, many more rejoiced in the event.” One blogger’s “attack on Catholicism and Catholics was met with near universal approval within the HuffingtonPost community.”
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She added, “I have read numerous, nearly identical comments and posts at Daily Kos.”
A number of HuffPost bloggers were also amazed at the venom of some of the responses, like one woman who observed, “This incident with the Pope has brought lots of Christmas cheer to the HP community. Wow.”
Here are some of those comments on Arianna Huffington’s blogging site, with the punctuation, language and spelling cleaned up as needed:
One posting shortly after the incident said, “I support a woman’s right to self determination on health care. The pope(rot in hell [EXPLETIVE EPITHET]), thinks he knows what’s best for all women.”
Another speculated on the attacker’s motives against the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: “I think this was a woman who’s son was probably molested by one of Ratzy’s priests and he just swept it under the rug, like they always do.”
In a similar vein, another blogged, “Perhaps she was one of the bazillion rape victims of Catholic Priests and just trying to strike back.”
Still another HuffPost participant called it “A symbolic act – a thank you for all the Pope has done for womankind through the years...” Another blogger concluded, “That’s what happens when religion subjugates women and their bodies.”
Other Huffington Posters used the attack to make pronouncements about geopolitics and economics. “A wobbly old man with more gold than God, in the midst of abject poverty, deserves a shove or two,” wrote one. “After all, he owes most of it to South America and Africa. Perhaps he believes that he can buy his way into heaven, or at least stay out of that other place.”
Bloggers also suggested the Bavarian Pope was a Nazi: “Ratzy should have used his old SS buddies as security consultants,” quipped one.
The overriding theme of most of the insulting statements, however, concerned molestation and homosexuality. “She was just upset that he showed up wearing the same dress she had on,” wrote one blogger. “She doesn’t seem unstable to me,” wrote another. “Perfectly reasonable thing to do to a phony, if you ask me.”
“Sorry, I had to laugh when I saw the video,” admitted another. “The Pope has been complicit in sexual crimes committed against children, so maybe this take-down was just karma because of his bad deeds.”
At least one blogger accused Pope Benedict of genocide: “Half of Africa is infected with HIV, and the Pope recently stated that using condoms is worse than contracting HIV … The Pope has effectively condemned several million to die. But you think it’s worse that somebody knocked him over? – 73 million dead, or a bad bruise on an old man. Which is worse?”
The case was even made on HuffPost that Maiolo’s attack was exactly the way to exercise effective opposition against the Catholic Church. “If you want to make a political statement against the Church was [there a] better time to do it than when millions of eyes and cameras are trained on you? – that would be during Christmas Eve Mass. I don’t think she’s unstable at all. It’s perfect timing.”
Others used the history of the church as justification for the act. “The decisions the Catholic Popes have made on behalf of women in the last century are such that women should bowl the b-----d over every day,” said one.
“They think the woman was mentally unstable for knocking down the pope?” asked another. “After centuries of the Catholic Church minimizing the rights of women, can you blame her? She's fighting back for a change.”
There was also no shortage of black humor, as in this Huffington Post comment: “I am afraid the woman will be water-boarded with holy water.”
Many HuffPost bloggers were also sympathetic to the 82-year-old Pope, it should be stressed, such as a woman describing herself as a pagan who wrote shortly after Midnight on Dec. 25, “I think it’s just disgusting the fun people are making of this lady knocking down the Pope in this forum.”
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