Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Back when torture was wrong

A reader reminds Andrew Sullivan about Cardinal Mindszenty, not a household name, alas:
please revisit the case of Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary. Mindszenty's treatment was in many respects identical to American enhanced interrogation techniques: hooding, humiliation (he was forced to wear a clown suit), drugging, sleep deprivation, etc. Pius XII was so appalled by Mindszenty's torture that he wrote an apostolic letter - Acerrimo Moerore - condemning it. Pius went on to excommunicate those involved in the torture. Mindszenty was beatified by John Paul and is being considered for canonization by Benedict.

It is moral relativism for National Review to condemn torture in one case (as they did with Mindszenty) and not with our current torture regime. Where are the Catholics?
If I recall correctly, Mindszenty's show trial, where he confessed to patently ridiculous charges, caught CIA's attention and made them worry about "brainwashing," which turned out to be nothing more than the effects of NKVD-style torture -- the "conveyor," they called it.

Sullivan comments:
I notice that the current Pope, in close league with American theocons like the late Neuhaus and George and Weigel, never uttered a word about torture in his meeting with President Bush. He has never specifically singled out the torture endorsed by his American political allies. He has found time to denounce airport body scans, however, because they invade and violate "the primacy of the human person.”
Doubtless 50 years from now, we will be reading books about how Benedict thought it was more effective to raise his concerns privately, or something like that. But I'm certainly not singling out the Catholics; if any Christian body has been vociferous in condemning American torture, I've missed it, and I tend to have an ear for such things.

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