Thursday, September 16, 2010

What is a Pope to do?

 Bless him.  Look at the frail old man waving to the crowd.  Awwww - it's good that he's allowed to come out and play every now and then.

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.


Daz said...

Ah Lee, I really do enjoy reading your blog thing! I know we have different opinions on politics and our faith but as you have so stated everyone is allowed their opinion and yours just happens to be extremely left wing and liberal! But that said I much prefer a healthy debate with lots of different opinions as this aspect highlights the benefits of our freedom in this country. Keep blogging bro as I do enjoy reading a differing opinion and THINKING what Id say in return -without saying it obviously! :) Daz

Tim Footman said...

Lee, why can't all Goddies be like you?

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

Daz: healthy debate is always a good thing.

Tim: There are lots of us out there, I promise. The media just thinks we're more boring than Qu'ran burning morons.

Anonymous said...

I do hope also that alongside the qu'ran burning morons you are going to mention the Christian church burning morons, the morons who put christians in prison or kill them for their belief in the same category?! :)

You are quite right we are all entitled to our beliefs, of course that doesn't seem to stop Richard Dawkins putting the boot into Christianity via channel 4 whenever he gets the chance which does seem to be regularly. Its going to be interesting if he does a similar scathing programme about the muslim faith or is it that he would be too worried of all the flag burning and danger to foreign troops? I wonder?!

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

Hello Anonymous. I believe you have just mentioned them ;) I'm well aware extremism isn't just limited to Christians. It's never right regardless of 'brand'.

To be fair to Dawkins, he spreads his criticism around. He is just as fierce in his attacks on other religions. He has been openly critical of Islam too and I believe currently has a number of extremist muslim groups calling for his death.

Anonymous said...

Ah so you do like to spread the Liberalism across the whole spectrum. Good for you!

If he really doesn't believe and thinks its all nonsense why does does he spend so much time and effort (and Money) desperate to deny its truth. Sounds like a man in denial?!

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

I would guess that he believes in no God just as strongly as any religious person belives in God. He has just as much right to spend time and money challenging religion as Billy Graham has to spend time and money challenging people to believe in God.

If you apply your argument the other way - you could say that the only reason Billy Graham spends so much time desperate to make people believer is because he's in denial!

You can't have it both ways. If you want the freedom to speak about your faith to anyone. Then other people have to have the freedom to speak about their faith or indeed their lack thereof.

I'm not a fan of Dawkins - in fact, I think he's guilty of the same narrowmindedness he accuses religous believers of. But he still has the right to say what he likes.