This is the reason why we today prefer the Dalai Lama to the Pope.

Even those who respect Pope John Paul II's moral stance usually accompany this admiration with the qualification that the Pope nonetheless remains hopelessly old-fashioned, medieval even, sticking to old dogmas, out of touch with the demands of new times. How can one today ignore contraception, divorce, abortion? Are these not facts of our life, part of today's self-evident rights? How can the Pope deny the right to abortion, even to a nun who got pregnant through rape, as the Pope effectively did in the case of the raped nuns during the war in Bosnia? Is it not clear that, even when one is in principle against abortion, one should in such an extreme case bend the principle and consent to a compromise? One can understand now why the Dalai Lama is much more appropriate for our post-modern permissive times. He presents us with a vague feel-good spiritualism without any specific obligations. Anyone, even the most decadent Hollywood star, can follow him while continuing his money-grubbing, promiscuous lifestyle. In contrast to it, the Pope reminds us that there is a price to pay for a proper ethical attitude. It is his very stubborn clinging to old values, his ignoring the realistic demands of our time even when the argument against it seems obvious, as is the case of the raped nun, that makes him — conditionally I use this term — great.

Slavoj Zizek, Human Rights and Its Discontents, November 16, 1999


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