April 5, 2005


'81 Shooter Requests Prison Leave to Attend Funeral: The assailant, whom the pope had forgiven, says he is mourning the loss of his 'spiritual brother.' (Amberin Zaman, April 5, 2005, LA Times)

Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who shot and seriously wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981, has requested a leave from prison to attend the pontiff's funeral, saying he is mourning the loss of his "spiritual brother."

"I must be there," Agca said Monday through his attorney. "I must attend the funeral."

The lawyer, Mustafa Demirag, met with Agca in Istanbul's Kartal prison and said he would seek permission from a prosecutor for his client to travel to Rome.

Demirag acknowledged that it was unlikely the maximum-security inmate would be allowed to attend.

The pope met with Agca in an Italian prison in 1983 and forgave the gunman for the shooting.

"Agca absolutely adores the pope; his death would be an enormous blow," said Agca's brother, Adnan, in a recent interview before John Paul died Saturday.

It's a measure of the two as men that neither the Pope nor Ronald Reagan bore their assassins any personal animus.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 5, 2005 7:52 AM

So their PR people would have us believe. Denying human nature is never a good thing.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 8:23 AM

I was appalled to learn he had only served 19 years in Italy and was now in a turkish prison for 3 years on unrelated charges.

Posted by: Genecis at April 5, 2005 9:39 AM

Denying human nature is one thing. Overcoming it is another. Is it impossible to believe that Reagan and JPII were able to overcome their human nature and choose to forgive their would-be assassins?

Posted by: Roy Jacobsen at April 5, 2005 9:59 AM

It is not rational behavior to forgive one's would-be assassin and I generally like to think that people in responsible positions are rational.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 10:05 AM


On the contrary, forgiveness is eminently rational. It is the opposite that leads to insanity.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 5, 2005 10:16 AM


They aren't in Christendom.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 10:17 AM

Regarding Reagan and Hinckley, how could you bear a grudge against such a nutter? It's not like Hinckley was motivated by political opposition or even personal hatred of the President. He wanted a date with Jodie Foster, which is almost like his morning oatmeal told him to do it. An angry response to such delusion *would be irrational.

And the John Pauls II's duty as a Catholic (not even getting into his duty as the pope) was to forgive. Especially his enemies.

Posted by: Ted Welter at April 5, 2005 10:38 AM

Forgiveness is irrational? That means I gotta hold grudges? But it gets so tiring.

Somewhat related note from Orrin's favorite blog: John Derbyshire has vanished from the NRO Corner. His last post was Friday, and it's not often that the talkative Derbyshire goes silent for so long.

Derbyshire holds Catholics - especially Irish Catholics - in distaste, so it's not surprising that he has ducked out while everybody is eulogizing JPII.

Derbyshire also got roasted by his fellow bloggers over the Schiavo case. Ramesh Ponnuru's "Contra Derbyshire" was easily the harshest attack ever by one Corner-dweller against another. So I can understand why he's lying low. But I expect him back pretty soon.

Posted by: Casey Abell at April 5, 2005 10:39 AM


Of course it's irrational.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 11:33 AM

There are things which normal people can and should forgive. Getting shot isn't one of them. If someone took a shot at me or at my family or even my doggie, I wouldn't be satisfied until I was feeding his corpse to the pigs and I hardly think my sentiments are unusual. If he got life imprisonment, I'd pay someone to kill him and bring his head back to me in a bowling bag. If he got released from prison, he wouldn't last 48 hours on the street. Whether he was able to persuade some judge of his lack of understanding of his crime would be of no matter to me whatsoever.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 11:34 AM


C'mon, you'd whine about it and do nothing, except in your fantasies.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 11:40 AM

By the way, it just dawned on me that I should back up my comment about Derbyshire's anti-Catholic (and especially anti-Irish Catholic) tendencies. From his own web site:

I hope Catholic readers will not think I am interfering in matters that donít concern me. To those that do so think, I shall say: "TO THE POPE BROKEN BELLS, TO ST. JAMES BROKEN SHELLS! NO POPISH VILE OPPRESSION, BUT THE PROTESTANT SUCCESSION! CONFUSION TO THE GROYNE, HURRAH FOR THE BOYNE!" And if that doesnít bring out the shillelaghs, I shall sing "The Sash My Father Wore," followed by a rousing chorus of "Protestant Boys". [Emphasis in the original]

I'll admit there's some humor here, but there's a definitely non-humorous distaste for Catholicism as well. Earlier in the article Derbyshire confesses (?) to a "mild fear and loathing of the Catholic church." This reminds me of his other confession (that word again) of a "mild and tolerant" racism.

I have a feeling that Derbyshire would love to chime in with at least a somewhat dissenting view about the Pope on the Corner right now. But he may still be feeling the bruises from the Schiavo ruckus.

Posted by: Casey Abell at April 5, 2005 11:42 AM

So it's rational to hold grudges forever? Sorry, I'll pass on that kind of "rationality." Especially if it's the kind of "rationality" that gets you a first-degree murder charge if somebody takes a shot at your dog. That sounds REAL rational to me.

Posted by: Casey Abell at April 5, 2005 11:46 AM


There isn't a jury in America that would convict me, there isn't a prosecutor who would bring the case up for indictment other than maybe in San Francisco or the Bronx and there isn't a White, Asian or Hispanic cop who would arrest me and there isn't a Black cop who would arrest me, if my assailant weren't Black. So I'm not worried.

If I got a jury with 12 dog owners on it, they'd congratulate me.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 12:25 PM

There aren't 12 people on the planet who think you'd do more than yap ineffectually.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 12:29 PM

Okay, murder somebody and tell the jury that he took a shot at your dog. Good luck.

Posted by: Casey Abell at April 5, 2005 12:59 PM

Once you produce the bullet from the other guy's gun, and the vet's testimony and bills, it becomes quite easy. It's sad when people aren't serious about protecting what's theirs.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 1:40 PM

Bart just doesn't get it. Ronald Reagan said it best when someone asked him what he througth about some Lefty minster having said thatr he wasn't a good Christian. "He's forgiven, " Ron said.

A truly vicious tendency in contemporary criminal trials is to ask the victim's survivors to ask for vengeance in the guise of "victim impact statgements." I carry a gun (now two guns, having just picked up a cute-as-a-bug Kel-Tec .32) I have already decided that I would shoot to kill in self-defense or other necessity, but I should pray for the deceased thereafter.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 5, 2005 2:26 PM

Obviously Bart doesn't get it. He's not a Christian, there's no reason to expect him to think or behave like one. We're told to "Forgive as the Lord forgave you," but there's no reason for Bart to care about that.

Posted by: Timothy at April 5, 2005 2:40 PM

Judaism does not require its adherents to pray for those who would do them serious harm. That's one cardinal difference it has with Christianity.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 5, 2005 2:50 PM

Last summer a guy put a shotgun slug through my car, within a foot and a half of my head. He then went up US-127 shooting at cars until he ran off the road near St. Johns. The man was delusional, he thought Lansing was under invasion and he was trying to fight his way out of the city. Fortunately, no one was killed or seriously injured.

I don't hate the man. He was crazy, is crazy, and likely will remain crazy. I may forgive him, but I haven't reached that point yet. But I don't hate him. It's just not there in me (much as he wasn't actually 'there' either.) And forgiveness, I may reach it. I can't explain it, it isn't rational, nor is it wholly irrational. How can one hate someone like that?

Posted by: Mikey at April 5, 2005 3:13 PM

I don't believe Bart hates (not in the sense that evil people hate), but I do believe he is quite afraid of living.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 5, 2005 3:26 PM

Hard to distinguish the overweaning elevation of self from hate.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 3:32 PM

Frankly, all of that forgiveness stuff (or 'turn the other cheek')is something I've never understood about Christianity. It has always seemed to me that it was creating an open door to being victimized, that it was created by an existing aristocratic elite to justify their exploitation of the masses. If the Black Prince and his men came and stole your cattle, and crops and raped your daughter, as happened to lots of 14th century French peasants, you were supposed to forgive him and pray for his soul, not demand justice in the here and now. That works pretty well if you're the Black Prince, not so well if you're a 14th century French peasant.

When I was a kid, like lots of Jewish kids of my age, I truly admired the Rabbi Meir Kahane(OBM). He was the first Jewish leader who confirmed lessons my DAV military officer dad taught me about never being victimized, about never taking crap for being Jewish and never apologizing for it. He was a breath of fresh air compared to the message being sent by the official Jewish community that we should knuckle under to the predatory minority group members who made our lives miserable, and those of our grandparents and the less fortunate of our faith so horrible in places like Brownsville and Crown Heights. He advocated a firm, and unyielding Jewish self-defense which I believe in to this day.(Naturally, I would deny no one else the same right to protect himself from criminals). When I was in college, a couple of times a week, I would go with a group to Crown Heights and Williamsburg and go around at night with a flashlight, a radio and a gun to help protect elderly Jews(and non-Jews including Blacks) and religious Jews who lived in shaky areas, escorting them home from the grocer or whatever at night. The City's official policy under Ed Koch in those days was that we were vigilantes, but I never failed to get a smile and a wave from cops on duty when I was there. They were on our side and we were on their side. When things got better and we weren't needed, we disbanded.

I'm not the most compassionate guy in the world, but when I am compassionate, it is for the victims of crime not its perpetrators.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 3:36 PM

So Judaism avoided victimization?

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 3:39 PM


If he's not put down like a mad dog, he'll do it again and someone might end up dead as a result.


I wouldn't call it fear, merely a dislike for unnecessary risk. In general, I try to live my life like the cautious chessplayer, avoiding problems, figuring out what can go wrong if I do something or fail to do something else, simplifying matters, before I act. That's not being afraid of living that's merely being afraid of being exploited unduly.(As long as we are wage slaves, we are exploited)


The abnegation of self is like standing around with a sign saying 'KICK ME' in big red letters. You may see this as your religious obligation, I however do not. If I'm not looking out for number 1 no one else is.


What is a Kel-Tec .32 going to do to a felon other than get him mad? I have a Glock .45 with a laser sight, which is a definite attitude adjuster, and, ever since I saw the movie 'Snatch', I've wanted a Desert Eagle .50. It can shoot through walls. But that's about $1500.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 3:47 PM

Our leadership failed us consistently over two millenia which is a major spur to conversion for many people. The passive response to Christian persecution merely encouraged more of it rather than less.

Christians were far more severely victimized by the nobility and the clergy than we were during most of history. Our suffering was in fits and starts, but for most Christians, life was like Orwell's description of totalitarianism, a hobnail boot on a human face, forever. Life sucked for us in the Dark Ages, but nothing like it did for the European feudal peasant who was regularly victimized by predatory nobles or the Russian muzhik in his one-room izbh where he and his family slept with the animals for warmth.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 3:54 PM


The period you mistakenly refer to as the Dark Ages was when Europe was Enlightened and became Christian and great.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 3:59 PM

I can't imagine how anyone could see the thousand year horror between the fall of Rome and the discovery of America as anything but a continous nightmare. The poverty and human misery was grinding and the knowledge of the ancients was disappearing. Europe was bottled up in a dreary little corner of the planet.

It was the Renaissance and the Reformation that paved the way for the Enlightenment which created America and made the world an infinitely better place.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 4:12 PM

America was a reaction to Enlightenment which proceeded to destroy Europe. The Renaissance was just the flowering of the fertile thousand years of Europe's Christianization.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 4:18 PM

America was the child of the European Enlightenment moderated by a fear of the excesses of the Cromwell years. The FFs certainly were not shy about quoting French philosophes, Locke and Hume, were they?

The Renaissance occured despite the Church not because of it. Why was DaVinci writing in mirror image Latin and eventually forced to flee to the court of Francois Ier? Why were autopsies illegal? Why was Copernicus forced to recant? Why was Giordano Bruno burned at the stake? Why was Tycho Brahe chased to Denmark?

The Church's claim to be the basis of the Renaissance is almost as disgusting as its claims to be a victim of the Holocaust as well.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 4:31 PM

Bart: Justice is one thing, and self-defense is another thing, but you are advocating revenge for nothing other than revenge. Forgiveness does not mean you won't defend yourself, or you won't seek justice. It doesn't mean you're going to like the guy who harmed you, send him a birthday card, or invite him over for dinner. It doesn't mean that you won't fight a war. It means shedding wrath and malice.

The dude can't harm me now, he's locked up tight. John Paul II's and Mr. Reagan's attackers couldn't harm them again either. Rather than nurse a grudge, they released it. It made them more free than otherwise. Not hating this guy has helped me (I hope you don't think I slept well that night - I didn't). I don't think about it very much, perhaps every other week or so.

Sure, some should be put down because the danger of their breathing is to great (talking about pedophiles here) but not all need to be, or are beyond forgiveness. Just because mercy and forgiveness can be shown doesn't mean that I can't be hard. It just means that the world is still a harsh place. But when it can be shown, it's wonderful.

Posted by: Mikey at April 5, 2005 4:33 PM

They never quoted the French, except Montesquieu. They often quoted the Bible.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 4:49 PM

Forgive them. And then pull the switch.

Posted by: Rick T. at April 5, 2005 5:03 PM


That's like saying they never quoted the Communist Chinese, except Mao Tse-Tung.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 5:08 PM

I know, but it was your argument.

The Enlightenment birthed the rationalist French Revolution, which continues to destroy Europe.

Christianity birthed the American Founding, which proceeds from Revelation, and continues to thrive.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 5:18 PM

The French believed Rousseau(who might arguably have been the spawn of Satan) not Hobbes, and never experienced the excesses of Cromwell, so they bought into the notion that the mob was always right. That is the difference.

The French Revolution didn't lack for Christian founders, whether it was clerics like Mirabeau or Sieyes or the clerically educated like Robespierre and Danton.

Posted by: bart at April 5, 2005 5:37 PM

bart - What's wrong with the Church's claim to be a victim of the Holocaust? The priests, bishops, and nuns did in fact die, in the same camps as the Jews.

Posted by: pj at April 5, 2005 5:37 PM


The French Revolution is based on Reason.

Posted by: oj at April 5, 2005 8:00 PM

As a Jew who is essentially self-taught about Judaism, my understanding is that from the Jewish perspective, for sins against man, the only one who can forgive you is the person you did wrong. Thus, if the Pope forgave Agca, he is forgiven in the eyes of God. However, Agca is not absolved from the penalty meted out by the civil justice system. Agca must also feel that with the Pope's death, his fifteen minutes of fame have gone bye-bye.

Posted by: Jim Siegel at April 5, 2005 10:12 PM


The Church cannot claim to be a victim of the Holocaust, while millions of Polish and other Catholics as individuals certainly can. The Nazis wanted to exterminate the Jews and ended up killing over 1/3 of the world's Jewish population. They found many Catholic allies including Cardinals and some might say that Pius XII was involved as well. The evidence is all over the map. The Nazi military certainly suffered from no lack of Catholic soldiers, and there were no shortage of German Catholic and other Catholic guards at the concentration camps, gleefully participating in the murder of the Jews. There was certainly no attempt by the Nazis to wipe out the RC Church as an institution.

Hence, the difference.

Posted by: bart at April 6, 2005 11:24 AM


The people who would say so are liars.

Posted by: oj at April 6, 2005 11:32 AM

The Kel-Tec is strictly a back-up of hide-out piece, the one you brought with being much more effective than the one you left home because it was too big. My carry piece is either my Istaeli-made Charles Daly .45, or my newer Taurus PT-745 sub-compact also in .45. As the Marines found in the Phillippines, whether or not you want to have to shoot someone, you do not want to have to shoot him again. The Charles Daly is a perfect fit. Somewhere in a gun factory in Israel, there's a guy with a hand exactly like mine. The Taurus is a 20 oz. single-stack mag, with enough of a grip to be controllable. Most subcompact .45's are double stack, and their grip is too short to hold firmly enough to manage the recoil.

On the forgiveness business, let me just add that I have found over the years that those who do not forgive others have difficulty forgiving themselves, a hard road to travel.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 6, 2005 8:20 PM