So, Joseph Ratzinger has announced his resignation as Pope, and the news media are abuzz with speculation about who his successor will be.
Ratzinger’s Papacy was certainly controversial. His membership of the Hitler Youth raised a few eyebrows. That was a little unfair, as he had very little choice in the matter, and his family would have been threatened if he had refused to join. Indeed, there is evidence that he and his family were opposed to the Nazis. My criticism of him in this regard is that he was in a position to know that the Nazis were by no means atheists, as he claimed on a recent paid holiday to the UK.
The criticism of his handling of the child abuse scandal within his church is on firmer ground, though there is still a degree of hyperbole. It would be wrong, for example, to assert that he is himself a “kiddy fiddler”, but it is true that his lackadaisical attitude to paedophile priests, both before and during his reign, meant that more victims suffered, and for longer, than if he’d acted promptly.
Some people are lamenting the departure of a Pope so adept at bringing the Roman Catholic Church into disrepute, but I’m looking forward to a whole new era of scandal especially if, as is being mooted, the next Pope comes from Africa, a region in which the Catholic Church has particularly bloody hands.
Meanwhile, rumours abound over the precise reason for Ratzinger’s resignation, since “failing health” hasn’t tempted his predecessors to quit. Perhaps he has had a better job offer!
Pope Benedict XVI and Baroness Warsi, seemingly the self-appointed Minister for Promoting Religion, have two things in common, despite being followers of different faiths. Neither of them understands what secularism is, and they are both terrified of it.
A secular state is one in which a person’s religious views are nobody else’s business, least of all the government’s, and where people of different religions, or of none, can coexist without interference (provided that the practice of a religion doesn’t curtail the rights of others, such as killing people for not worshipping the same deity in the same way).
Warsi, a muslim, should be grateful that she can practice her religion in Britain. In some Islamic countries non-muslims would be persecuted. Not the imagined persecution that exists only in the minds of some religious people in Britain, but real persecution, sometimes involving real torture and death.
The Pope too should reflect that the open practice of his particular denomination was once a criminal offence and, but for secularism, he would not have been allowed into the country, let alone feted by dignitaries.
Yet so desperate are they that their delusions are going out of fashion, they attack the very thing that allows them freedom of conscience.
And religion does seem to be going out of fashion, particularly the louder and more intrusive forms of it. A poll commissioned by the Richard Dawkins Foundation For Reason and Science, conducted by Ipsos MORI, suggests that religion is not as pervasive as recent census results might have us believe.
The poll was commissioned in anticipation of the 2011 census result, in which, as usual, there was a question about religion. It has long been suspected that the answer to that question was skewed by people who put “C of E” (or whatever religion applied to their family) just because that was what they always put, and they didn’t know the could do otherwise.
The poll would seem to confirm this, and to confirm what I’ve been saying for a while: the religious nutters making all the noise bear no relation to the real people I meet every day.
For more information about the RDFRS’s poll, click on the links below.
Mori poll press release 1
Mori poll press release 2
On a visit to the West African country of Benin the Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, urged his flock to reject “witchcraft and superstition”.
Mr Ratzinger, who worships a zombie known as Jesus, completely failed to see the irony.
Benetton has long been known for controversial advertisements, and the one above, retracted after legal threats from the Vatican, is no exception.
Of course, it shouldn’t be controversial, and only is because of the hatred of homosexuals propagated by the religions of both the men pictured.
There’s a bigger failure on the part of the Catholic church, however. They are so stuck in an earlier age, when they could force people to conform, with little resistance, that they haven’t taken account of the internet. This picture, which probably wouldn’t have been noticed by most people if it hadn’t been challenged, is likely to go viral, and be seen by millions.
The Vatican probably thinks it’s scored a victory but, as shown by their pathetic ongoing response to the child abuse scandal within the church, their PR skills need more than a little polishing.
Joseph Goebbels is often credited, probably wrongly, with saying “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”
I doubt if the Pope, Joe Ratzinger, cares who came up with the line, but he seems determined to prove it true.
On Thursday October 27th, at an event billed as “25th Assisi World Day Of Prayer For Peace: Joys, Blessings And Hopes”, Ratzinger repeated a lie that he told last September during his paid holiday in the UK, namely that the concentration camp atrocities of World War 2 were the fault of unbelievers, saying that they showed “with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.”. It isn’t even likely that Ratzinger sincerely believes this, since he is well placed to know that his church was the first international body to make a treaty with Nazi Germany, before any actual nations had a chance to. Also, as a member of the Hitler Youth organisation, albeit a reluctant one, he would have been all too aware of the religious rhetoric used by the Fuhrer.
Another claim made by Ratzinger, and other people of faith, is that honesty is a virtue, and that lying is wrong.
It’s a pity he doesn’t seem able to practice what he preaches.
It isn’t the abuse of children by Catholic priests that has made people angry, though that is bad enough, but the lengths that the church hierarchy go to (unsuccessfully) avoid bad PR. Yet again, the Catholic church, this time in Kansas City, is being sued, not for allowing the abuse to take place, nor even for the cover up, at least not directly, but for taking revenge on someone who tried to help victims of abuse, and tried to help the church avoid future problems.
Not only has Margaret Mata been ousted from her job, but it is alleged that she has had sensitive information taken from her computer, which was then used to spy on her.
Considering how often the Catholic church loses lawsuits, they must have plenty of money to burn. Of course, they can always count on the sheep to top up the coffers.
The Roman Catholic Church,through its mouthpiece Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, has been whining to the United Nations that people and governments who disagree with its stance on homosexuality and disallow discrimination against gays are infringing its members’ human rights!
Although he said that the church condemned all violence against people because of their sexual orientation or behaviour he added “but states can and must regulate behaviours, including various sexual behaviours.”
Firstly, why must states regulate behaviours, sexual or otherwise, if those behaviours don’t affect other people?
Secondly, any regulation of behaviour between consenting adults infringes on their human rights. Any punishment arising from such regulation does likewise. Even a financial penalty can escalate, if (quite rightly) not paid, and imprisonment will usually follow. The unjust use of such force is a form of violence.
These childish rants from an increasingly irrelevant organisation invite ridicule, but the fact that some people actually take them seriously is worrying. In parts of Africa, the church encourages, even lobbies for, anti-gay legislation which includes the death penalty.
The double-speak that Vatican officials engage in is worthy of a Bond villain.