Hey, the Pope has landed!
I am off around central London on Saturday with a merry band of people – catholic, protestant, atheist, agnostic, humanist, probably muslim, hindu, sikh and just about everything besides – to Protest the Pope. There are many, many reasons to do so…
I’ve had people, frankly, have a go at me about it but I’d have thought it’s obvious why I feel the need to join in. I can understand if people just aren’t that bothered and don’t want to show up but surprised if it’s not clear why people are angry at the man and the fact that the UK is paying for his visit.
Shout, shout, let it all out
On the PtP site is a ‘Rap Sheet‘ for the Pope that concisely summarises the main disagreements with his policies and views but also goes into them in a bit more detail, with supporting quotations.
These can be crudely summarised as child rape, homophobia, misogyny, racism, and the spreading of HIV.
There is a lot of abuse of women in the church, which tends to get less publicity than the young victims. 14 of 22 convicted child abusers remain in the chuch even now. The Murphy Report exposed some of the abuse in the Irish catholic church. Bill Carney’s case is notable, his words here are quite chilling – also see the Newsnight footage.
The Pope does not stand up for the human rights of women, gay people or children, opposing abortion in all cases, and contraception even within marriage. So, no one should have a physical relationship with their lover should they be of the same sex or if one of them is known to be HIV-positive; the church spreads misinformation about STDs and barrier contraception, contributing to the spread of HIV and deaths due to AIDS. Women should carry any child to term, whatever her situation, since the potential lives of embryos and foetuses are apparently more important than hers – yet the church has not condemned capital punishment so the ‘all life is sacred’ thing doesn’t seem to apply universally. These are not the views of most sensible catholics, but are the will and word of the head of their church.
This article in the Independent is a plea to catholics to disassociate themselves from the Pope’s views, as they are also damaging to members of the religion. However, a quick look at #papalvisit on Twitter clearly shows that most people feel the need to stand up for him regardless of what comes out of his mouth.
This New Statesman piece is essential reading, detailing why the recognition of the Vatican City as a state, the Holy See, should not be ignored and the activity it has permitted. No other religion is afforded this ‘honour’, given this power. People underestimate the influence of the Catholic church in Europe because of it. We need separation of church and state, to allow both freedom of and from religion. This is important for religious and non-religious alike. It is vital for the upholding of human rights.
Hilariously, yesterday cardinal Kasper pulled out of the visit because we have ‘aggressive atheism’ and we’re apparently a ‘Third-world country‘ due to our ‘multiculturalism’. The hypocrisy here is fantastic – ‘we want to show our faith publically’ – yet people of all faiths and none should not be free to voice their concerns because they’re at odds with his ideas?
Let’s not forget Ratzinger’s lifting of Richard Williams‘ excommunication – a man who denies the gas chambers operated in WW2 and says only about 300,000 Jews were killed, no genocide involved, the attribution of ‘miracle‘ to the results of Jack Sullivan‘s fairly routine back operation or the suspect treatment of the soon-to-be-saint Cardinal Newman.
Well, why is the UK’s money being spent on an official visit for the head of a religion? When he opposes our ‘liberal laws’ and compares the problem of institutionalised child rape to the “grave crime” of allowing women to hold official positions in his organisation.
Protest against his outdated, offensive views. Protest in support of all the victims, against spending money on an unelected preacher afforded too much power and recognition, against his words and actions.
Tim Minchin’s Pope Song perfectly demonstrates why people should find the pope offensive (moreso than the language in the song btw; not for work/headphones required!)
Also see the PodDelusion live at Skeptics in the Pub London for some BHA commentary (from 3:14).
I’ve heard “well there are paedophiles everywhere, mostly within families”, for example. So what? The pope is the head of a powerful organisation, who can affect law and many, many lives. He commands a lot of respect, people listen to what he says. He has (and uses) the power to protect known paedophiles and did so because he considers the reputation and integrity of his institution more important than the human rights of children – as a result he has caused many thousands of lives to be affected.
The fact that other crimes exist does not absolve others. There is a greater rape culture in many African countries but that does not mean we should ignore our own. If you know of crimes, if you have the power to stop them, you should be using it – people need protecting and turning a blind eye helps no one.
I have not covered everything, I’m sure others have made more eloquent points. But I know I do not believe these kinds of views and actions should be sanctioned by our government, paid for with our money or allowed to pass without comment. Also, the protest itself is going to be fun, and I need some of that.
we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many
Um, Pope is clearly unfamiliar with Hitler’s own reasons for his actions. For example, from Mein Kampf:
The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God’s will, and actually fulfill God’s will, and not let God’s word be desecrated. For God’s will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord’s creation, the divine will.
Also we have, of course, the failure of Pius XII to condemn the Nazi regime at the time, as RD comments.
Moving on to more gems from the Pope’s attack on secularism:
As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny”
Today, the United Kingdom strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate. Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms
So apparently atheism and secularism breed intolerance. Former member of the Hitler Youth (sorry to keep bringing it up but it’s probably important in this context) says it was christianity that stood up against Nazism (implying while not plainly stating that atheism caused and tolerates it). The hypocrisy is beyond my words and I expect we’ll see some heavy backlash to this quite swiftly; for example the BHA has already made a statement.
Edit III: Brilliant! (I might stop this eventually) By CaptainMandate
I don’t know if hitler was a catholic, atheist, astrologist or wiccan (depends on your source) but I do know he was a german head of a totalitarian state endorsed by mussolini