Thursday, September 16, 2010
What is a Pope to do?
There has been lots of hand wringing about an overly secularist media attacking the Pope and his visit to Britain. And while the fact that his visit gives pleasure and spiritual support to UK Catholics is not in doubt for a moment the actions of the Vatican party are not immune to critcism.
Even before the Pope had arrived, aide Canon Walter Kaspar had caused controversy by declaring that the UK is like the Third World. The Vatican then compounded the offence of this admittedly off-hand and flippant comment by suggesting that he was referrring to the multi-cultural nature of modern Britain. The blatantly racist undertones of the defence of Kaspar seem to have gone almost completely unremarked upon in the media.
But never mind, everyone has to deal with a dodgy assistant from time to time (no doubt Benedict has an admirably arcane method of wholly inadequate punishment to hand when he gets back to Rome), let's hear from the man himself. In a speech in Edinburgh today he appeared to liken 'aggressive forms of secularism' to the ideologies of Nazi Germany. I'm aware that the media has taken a couple of lines of his address out of the overall context but the the fact is he should have known that juxtaposing the alleged secularism of modern multi-cultural Britain with the atrocities of Nazi Germany was bound to be controversial.
Considering that some of the pillars of Catholic dogma (it's views on sexuality, contraception and women ministers for example) are quite reactionary, it's ironic in the extreme to compare modern atheists to Nazis - even obliquely.
As a Christian (admittedly at the more liberal end of Anglicanism) I am getting increasingly tired of religious figures attacking those airing atheistic or secularist views. People are entitled to whatever beliefs they choose to hold, whether they be religious or not. If you are secure in your religious beliefs, you have no need to fear the opinions of those without any. However it seems that those at the more fundamentalist extremes of an ideology are more nervous and intolerant of differing philosophies.