Czechs yawn at Papal visit

And the ghost of Jan Hus laughs.


As Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the Czech Republic on Saturday on a three-day pilgrimage aimed at battling against the forces of secularism, religious leaders warned that he faced a daunting challenge in a nation of mostly natural-born skeptics.

When the pope comes to town, a city usually pulls out all the stops. Not so here in the Czech capital, where banners heralding the pope’s visit and large crowds were conspicuously absent. The local newspapers that highlighted the trip seemed more preoccupied with the pope’s penchant for bright red loafers than with the substance of his religious mission.

“If the pope wants to create a religious revival in Europe, there is no worse place he could come to than the Czech Republic, where no one believes in anything,” said Jaroslav Plesl, a self-confessed lapsed Catholic who is deputy editor of Lidove Noviny, a leading daily newspaper here. “Add to that the fact that the pope is German and socially conservative and he might as well be an alien here.”

That eerie sound you hear in the distance is the ghost of Jan Hus, laughing.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

6 thoughts on “Czechs yawn at Papal visit”

  1. That quote is kind of a long lead-up to the punch line. But the irreverent disregard of the Czech people to his red-loafered eminence couldn't happen to a more deserving guy.

  2. I seem to remember during the Mark Warren freak-out Kleiman complained that Warren had made some remark about the relative emptiness of liberal churches.

  3. I find it somewhat implausible that Jan Hus, a religious reformer martyred for his firmly-held beliefs, would really be "laughing" at the sight of a Czech nation "where nobody believes in anything."

  4. Yes, Moral Panicker, this does seem like distateful gloating. I went back to look at the Rick Warren posts, which have this little tidbit: that Warren's presence might buy Obama some space "…when Obama does pro-gay and pro-choice stuff, starting with the repeal of DADT…". I suggest he fire up those issues right now.

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