The Pope is not the same as The Irish


4:25 pm - August 22nd 2010

by John B    


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So there’s a debate in the UK liberal blogosphere about Catholicism, Catholics, and when debate turns into race hate. The reasons why this is contentious are pretty obvious.

On the one hand, the Catholic Church is one of the most revolting institutions ever to have existed, second only to the USSR in terms of ‘well-meaning ideas invented by a nice chap that you could have enjoyed a cup of tea with, taken up by insane evil egomaniacs and turned into an excuse for tyranny and genocide’.

For my money Jesus was nicer but Karl was smarter – either way, they’d both have been equally revolted by what people did in their names.

And indeed, the best thing the UK ever did – both for itself and for the development of the world as a civilised place – was to rebel from the vile leadership of the Catholic Church to form an independent state that became the cradle of liberalism, atheism and philosophy other than a branch of theology.

The Enlightenment happened over 200 years after England left Catholicism and over 100 years after the English and Scottish crowns were united, but could never conceivably have have happened in the Catholic theocracies that prevailed elsewhere at the time.

However, there is a significant other point.

Due to a combination of racial hatred and lack of zeal, the successful conversion of the rest of the British Isles to sensible religion failed to encompass Ireland.

Instead of saying, “yeah, that idiot the Pope, fuck him, support us”, Oliver Cromwell decided that the Irish were subhuman and proceeded to slaughter, enslave and oppress them. And then import Protestants from Scotland to the northeasterly bits of Ireland, just to make a point.

Given that Ireland was supposed to be an integral part of the UK, the way Ireland was treated right up to the civil war was about as disgraceful as it gets.

However, the one thing that was granted to the Irish [*] was the unequivocal right to take shitty jobs in the rest of the UK and work yourself to death for money (now, we make the same thing much less obvious, by ensuring the things in question are made in Asia by people we can’t see and therefore pretend aren’t suffering in the same way. Yay progress). And as a result, Scotland, Liverpool, Manchester and North London developed a substantial Irish Catholic, population.

Which is where the problem lies. If you’re not from those parts of the UK, Catholics are simply crazy posh Evelyn Waugh types, who’ve decided that pointless treachery would be better than just admitting that an evil foreign overlord wasn’t really worth following.

But if you’re from Northern Ireland, Liverpool or Glasgow, then anti-Catholicism is primarily about hating the (southern) Irish. And we can all agree that hating the Irish is racism, rather than merely ‘not being an idiot’-ism. Indeed, it’s exactly the same as pretending to hate Muslims when you really hate brown people.

What does this show? Overall: if you hate Catholics, you’re a dick. In exactly the same way that there’s a great deal of idiocy in many branches of Islam, but if you hate Muslims, you’re a dick.

But if you hate the Roman Catholic Church, that’s no more insane than hating Wahabbi clerics who advocate stoning, or hating Southern Baptists who want to kill gays. Like Jesus said, before the RCC turned him from the first ever socialist into some kind of weird fetish cult, “hate the sin, love the sinner”.


[*] and indeed, to everyone else. Until 1947, anyone from anywhere in the Empire had the right to settle in the UK, or anywhere else in the Empire, if they could afford the trip. It’s always good to point out ways in which things have got noticeably more bigoted, racist and fuckwitted since the end of the Empire. That’s not a defence of the Empire, it’s a criticism of the evil, bigoted and moronic immigration policies that have been introduced subsequently to please stupid ignorant bastards.

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About the author
John Band is a journalist, editor and market analyst, depending on who's asking and how much they're paying. He's also been a content director at a publishing company and a strategy consultant. He is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy and also blogs at Banditry.
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Reader comments


The problem here is that your characterisation of the Reformation is as bigoted and sectarian as it gets.

In Britain, the Reformation was the brutal suppression by the ruling classes of the religion of the people, against the wishes of the people, combined with the expropriation of most of the social infrastructure for the benefit of the ruling classes.

Far from being the birth of philosophy and liberalism it was anti-intellectual and over time gave birth to social division, nationalism, slavery and fundamentalism. If it created liberalism and atheism, they were born of a reaction to the sectarianism and oppression that followed the Reformation, not as part of the Reformation, and certainly not as part of Cromwell’s fundamentalist dictatorship.

The association of anti-Catholicism with intolerance of other nations wasn’t some accidental by-product of migration within the UK, it was the inevitable result of demonising a world religion and replacing it with an English religion. The Protestant narrative about Catholicism is that it is brutal, *foreign*, primitive and incompatible with loyalty to England. This narrative has continued to the present day far more successfullly than other doctrines of Protestantism have, and has been incorporated even into supposedly “liberal” narratives.

This is, of course, why the first excuse “liberal” haters of the Catholic church grasp for is that it is not the ordinary English people in the church that they hate, but the evil, foreign dictators in the Vatican who have corrupted them. Oh yes, says the liberal sectarian, I hate your unthinking, slavish adherence to an evil, foreign despot.

And then they wonder why Catholics still take it personally.

2. Conor O'Beirne

Can anyone explain how a journo can be so unreadable?

3. Conor O'Beirne

RT @johnb78: @sunny_hundal is an excellent editor. My piece on hating the Catholics vs hating the Pope is bloody well edited: http://bit.ly/cL7Yau

Lol. What was it like before?

Pre-Sunny = more pointless footnotes. And sheesh, I’m not HST, but I’ve compared this to the columns in today’s Observer and Sydney Morning Herald, and it’s far more coherent than either (to be fair, I’m the only person in Ausland not writing about Which Hicks Will Side With Which Party, and that helps…)

Speaking of editing, am I imagining it, or did there used to be a bit praising Oliver Cromwell?

it was the inevitable result of demonising a world religion and replacing it with an English religion. The Protestant narrative about Catholicism is that it is brutal, *foreign*, primitive and incompatible with loyalty to England.

That narrative has been pushed for *every* foreign religion that has come into the UK. Jews and now Muslims too.

The point of the article is simple – hating the Irish is wrong, full stop.

Hating on what the Catholic Church has done, in the same way as hating on Muslim institutions that promote misogyny, torture etc is justifiable.

“That narrative has been pushed for *every* foreign religion that has come into the UK. Jews and now Muslims too.”

The point is that you haven’t published an article saying that turning on the Jews and the Muslims was “the best thing the UK ever did” and simply a matter of disagreeing with some “vile” foreigners.

Yep, Karl was certainly smarter and so too is @1, the state has a long history of manipulating religion(any) to suit the purposes of the ruling elite and science (probably the new religion), hasn’t been much better.

you haven’t published an article saying that turning on the Jews and the Muslims was “the best thing the UK ever did”

Firstly – there is no similar historical comparison. Secondly – the article may have a different interpretation of the Reformation to you, but it doesn’t say that turning on Catholics was the best thing the UK ever did. It specifically condemns Cromwell for using that as an excuse to kill Irish people.

9,

You’re leaving me curious as to what you think the Reformation was if it wasn’t turning on Catholics. Oh yes, I forgot it was “the successful conversion of the rest of the British Isles to sensible religion”.

Cromwell was significantly later, and the bit about him was really only notable as it takes a real sectarian to condemn “Catholic theocracies” while being positive (genocide in Ireland excepted) about Cromwell’s fundamentalist dictatorship.

Do you really not get how sectarian this piece is?

11. Dick the Prick

/facepalm. Fail.

@ 2

I thought it was just me.

I can’t believe some of the stuff posted on here today.

My I suggest to John B read some bloody history. I am sick to death of the romantic, nationalist version of Irish history getting constantly re-hashed without question. It’s built on myths it is a a construct that began in the late 19th century, but it still passes muster as the metanarrative because anyone dissenting is worried about appearing “anti-Irish”.

13. Conor O'Beirne

Ah right, so you’re saying that lots of anti-Catholicism is anti-Irish sentiment – do we need an article to say this? At first I thought it was simply a straightforward attack on religious freedom a la USSR.

Well, of course the Pope isn’t the same as the Irish. He’s one of those dirty Germans…

But if you’re from Northern Ireland, Liverpool or Glasgow, then anti-Catholicism is primarily about hating the (southern) Irish.

Ok so let me see if I’ve got you right: you’re saying that while we should be sensitive to the historical context, expressions of anti-Catholicism are not intrinsically racist – except people from Liverpool, Glasgow or Northern Ireland who are generally incapable of making the distinction?

What puzzles me with the religious is this belief they hold that religious belief in contrast to any other belief should not be criticised but must be ‘ respected ‘. Why should political beliefs be subject to critisism and ridicule but not religious beliefs? Why is it considered fair comment to adherents when the Roman Catholic church criticises ‘ secular society ‘, however, if a member of secular society criticises the RC church that is supposed to be sectarian? Only the most extreme forms of political authoritarianism have similar difficulties handling critisism, mockery and defiance towards their authority. The RC church as an institution is conservative so it would be a bizarre state of affairs if it was not attacked by liberals.

“What puzzles me with the religious is this belief they hold that religious belief in contrast to any other belief should not be criticised but must be ‘ respected ‘”

Do you really think that it is only religious people who see a downside to sectarian hatred?

Apart from the crude and unhelpful characterisation of the Catholic Church (of which I am no fan), there’s a rather fantastic piece of ignorance in this article: namely, that The Enlightenment was some sort of English affair. Hate to break this to you, but not only did the Enlightenment have an awful lot to do with France, (what we now call) Italy and Germany, the Netherlands and Scotland, but most historians now count England as never having experienced a domestic Enlightenment, receiving the benefits indirect from Scotland or the continent (with the possible exception of Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall).

I mean, I can see this piece is driven by a lot of anger…but basic historic literacy would be appreciated. Facts, after all, are important.

17. oldandrew

“What puzzles me with the religious is this belief they hold that religious belief in contrast to any other belief should not be criticised but must be ‘ respected ‘”

Do you really think that it is only religious people who see a downside to sectarian hatred?

Is criticism of religious belief the same as sectarian hatred? How on earth would ideas and belief evolve if old ideas were not critisised? Unless of course we had an authority figure telling us what to believe.

20. Chris Baldwin

Yeah, of course it isn’t racist to attack the Catholic Church. However, you do have to be careful – separating the institution from the believers is never as easy in practice as it seems on paper. I’ve heard a lot of angry rhetoric from liberals and lefties about the Catholic Church in recent times – indeed, it seems fashionable – and I worry that this might drive a wedge between Catholics and the left, like there was in France once upon a time. I think it would be unfortunate if that happened.

Also, the Act of Union was 1707 – the Enlightenmet is generally dated from c1740/50 to 1800. So not “100 years” after England and Scotland underwent union.

I’m just saying like…

As Paul Sagar says the Enlightenment in Britain was really a Scottish phenomenon centred around Glasgow and Edinburgh universities. Oxbridge at this time was too obsessed with teaching classics and training the idiot sons for service in the Church of England.

23. Roger Mexico

Er Paul Sagar. The English and Scottish Crowns were united in 1603. Cos then the same guy had them.

You’re thinking of the countries and parliaments.

Just sayin’

“Is criticism of religious belief the same as sectarian hatred?”

I don’t think so.

But you were the person posting a comment on the end of a sectarian rant (complete with talk of “evil foreign overlords” and Oliver Cromwell) to complain that religious people couldn’t take it.

25. Michael from Glasgow

Good point identifying that dialogue and debate on Catholicism differs across the UK. In Glasgow it is even institutionalised through football. Socially it is perpetuated through faith schools.

However you then revert to simple rhetoric to describe this: “But if you’re from Northern Ireland, Liverpool or Glasgow, then anti-Catholicism is primarily about hating the (southern) Irish.”

No. I don’t think so.

Of course any religious based judgements upon others are inherently backwards; however you can’t simply put these judgements as down to ‘hate’.

Much of it is down to tribalism, to the sense of being part of an imaginary community – people that see Queen, Union Jack, and some strange formation of Protestantism, as their identity. To describe it as ‘hate’ is to misterm misunderstanding.

The intellectual debate, separate from the wider social one, has different parameters.

24. oldandrew

“Is criticism of religious belief the same as sectarian hatred?”

I don’t think so.

But you were the person posting a comment on the end of a sectarian rant (complete with talk of “evil foreign overlords” and Oliver Cromwell) to complain that religious people couldn’t take it. ‘

Does the fact that I post on a thread mean I endorse everything the opening poster states? My point was that some religious people believe that their beliefs should be immune to the same scrutiny that all other beliefs are subjected to. A tolerant society should respect all but that does not mean the religious should expect any special privileges.

oldandrew

your understanding of tudor-era history has some pretty big holes in it.

Now I don’t much care about catholicism. Fairy tales are pleasant but dull for adults.

I do however care about history.

So lets challenge some of the myths you are pedling.

1 – “the Reformation was the brutal suppression by the ruling classes of the religion of the people, against the wishes of the people,”

erm – well – to a partial extent perhaps. The vast majority of the English population continued to attend churche with relative disinterest in the apparent change in rules. It was more those from political classes that opposed change and were violently dealt with. Also reformation was far less bloody than catholicisation 1000 years earlier. So there is hypocricy in that charge being levelled when arguing against anti-catholic-church sentiment.

2 – “Far from being the birth of philosophy and liberalism it was anti-intellectual and over time gave birth to social division, nationalism, slavery and fundamentalism.”

Slavery existed for thousands of years before christianity, let alone protestantism. Social division had existed for thousands of years before christianity, let alone protestantism. Nationalism has existed in numerous forms throughout recorded history. But probably the best recognised early nationalist movement was that of the Jews who having been freed from slavery went in search of what ammounted to a nation. Fundementalism is the founding principle of all christianity. Hence so many christians chose death over denying their god under Roman rule. That said, if you mean violent fundementalism – the Druid based religions of celtic lands won out on pure unadulterated zeal in battle.

3 – “The association of anti-Catholicism with intolerance of other nations wasn’t some accidental by-product of migration within the UK, it was the inevitable result of demonising a world religion and replacing it with an English religion. The Protestant narrative about Catholicism is that it is brutal, *foreign*, primitive and incompatible with loyalty to England.”

And here we get to the Tudors. Be it the repeated catholic-church-funded attempts by Spain to invade Protestant England or the various attempts on Elizabeth’s life by people employed by the Catholic church as assasins – The English had good cause to fret over catholics in their midst. We were a small and insignificant country and we were under attack from the world’s greatest power at the behest of the Pope and in league with other catholic nations, including the Irish.

And it wasn’t as though Essex’s succesful leading of an English and Dutch fleet to destroy the Cadiz invasion fleet ended things. Popes continued to spit hate in sermons about England – and continued to call for violence against the English – and supported those who as late as the Gunpoweder Plot still sought to return us to their Pope’s control.

It was only because England was technologically so superior to Spain in its shipbuilding, and so succesful in humiliating Spain again and again, that the invasion attempts eventually stopped. But the assassination efforts, political manipulation (notably under Charles – hence the civil wars) and sponsorship of uprisings didn’t stop.

So pretending England demonised the catholic church unfairly is frankly utterly ridiculous. Little demonising was needed of such a vast global force attacking such a tiny and isolated nation.

Margin4eror,

Who are you trying to kid?

1) I’d be interested in your sources for the bloodiness of “catholicisation”. But regardless, there is no getting away from the fact that the Reformation was the ruling class, and the monarchy in particular, suppressing by force.the religion of the people and destroying or expropriating the social infrastructure in the process.

2) I’m not suggesting those phenomena had no antecedents (where did you get that strawman from?), I am referring to the effect on Britain. And the claim that Christianity is founded on fundamentalism is just absurd, particularly given the obvious context of the comments about Cromwell in the original piece.

3) Unless you think that the church could time travel, you are going to have to do a lot better than that.

“Does the fact that I post on a thread mean I endorse everything the opening poster states?”

It presumably meant you thought what you said about the sensitivity of religious people was relevant to the sectarian rant or the reaction to it.

28. oldandrew

‘… expropriating the social infrastructure in the process. ‘

What exactly was this infrastructure?

30,

Monastries, church property, land, abbeys, chantries, almshouses, schools.

Roger Mexico,

Er, no. In 1603 there were two separate crowns, with one rightful wearer (James I). The two crowns were only united in 1707.

Margin4Error,

Actually, nationalism is very much a 19th and 20th Century phenomenon. Although there is talk of ‘the nation’ in 18th and some 17th discourse, the modern understanding of nationalism is a post-French revolutionary phenomenon as modern mass states emerge and the concept of a bonded ‘nation’ is used to hold them together (and attack various neighbours).

oldandrew – I’m not an expert on this part of history and it isn’t written by me. But it does say criticism of religious institutions is valid while racism at communities isn’t.

Here is the comparison I can make with some confidence. Some right-wing historians (and Asian buffoons like Nirpal Dhaliwal (http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/9433) – say the British empire wasn’t as bad as has been portrayed. I disagree with the Niall Ferguson types. But I don’t then say they’re excusing the deaths of millions of Indians or they are no different to the BNP.

old andrew

1 – I don’t know where to begin. The burning of 40,000 witches (largely Pagan women) is probably an obvious one as you presumably won’t question that that happened or that it was a mechanism for wiping out non-catholic faiths. Likewise the various slaughters of tribes for their pagan worshiping during the Dark and middle ages, along with associated conversion under pain of death, are widely recognised in many history texts. Granted it wasn’t only the catholic churches that did this. The celtic chuches did much the same in Northern and Western England as the catholic church did in southern and eastern England. But that hardly makes it untrue.

2 – The strawman came from your words that “Far from being the birth of philosophy and liberalism it was anti-intellectual and over time gave birth to social division, nationalism, slavery and fundamentalism.”

And to argue there is no fundementalism in a faith that deifies “the one true god” and casts into hell anyone who denies him is a little weak is it not? Especially given your slightly odd accuastion that reformation gave birth to fundementalism, which it clearly didn’t.

3 – Why would the Pope have to go back in time to do those things? His predecessors already did them. Hence in the early modern era grew the paranoia that a massive catholic world was trying to destroy tiny England. That is what explains your suggestion that “The Protestant narrative about Catholicism is that it is brutal, *foreign*, primitive and incompatible with loyalty to England.” Catholics answered to the Pope according to their religion and their god. As such it was hard to overlook that the pope kept calling on them to raise armies to attack England – or to assassinate our royal, and later democratic heretic leaders.

BTW – I should point out I’m not a protestant.

Paul Sagar

The nation state is very much a modern construct. And as such nationalism as we understand it now is too. But actually if you look to a movement like that of the Vandals in the late Roman Empire, that was in every meaningful sense a nationalist movement.

It was the attempt to establish a region in which a people united by one or more of faith, race or tradition could leave among eachother and govern themselves.

32,

I appreciate that history allows for intelligent debate, I just don’t think the sectarianism of the original article here falls within those bounds. Protestantism, apparently even that of Oliver Cromwell, is described as “sensible religion”. Catholics are accused of “treachery” involving an “evil foreign overlord”. There’s even a variation on the old Loyalist slogan “Fuck the Pope”.

30,

I was referring to monastries, church property, land, abbeys, chantries, almshouses, schools.

@30: “What exactly was this infrastructure?”

As the monasteries dispensed charity to the poor and needy, their dissolution removed a source of supporting welfare benefits at a time when the supportive social bonds of feudal social and economic structures were fragmenting – in short, employment arrangements were becoming commercial.

Elizabethan governments recognised the ensuing social issues and responded with a succession of Elizabethan poor laws, arguably creating the pioneering foundations of a secular system to ensure provision of social safety nets:
http://www.victorianweb.org/history/poorlaw/elizpl.html
http://www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/the-poor-law.htm

It may be tempting and easy to portray Cromwell as an intolerant bigot but it is challenging to maintain that portrayal with his endeavours to encourage jews to resettle in England to promote commerce and trade relations:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resettlement_of_the_Jews_in_England

33,

1) The idea that European witch hunts were an attempt by the Catholic Church to wipe out an ancient religion is pseudo-history of the first order and you were right to guess that I wouldn’t take it seriously.

2) You are clearly defining “fundamentalism” in a very odd way. I thought from the context that it was obvious I was referring quite specifically to those movements of Reformed Protestantism and Calvinism that contributed to the Puritan movement in Cromwell’s time, and are the direct ancestor of modern day Christian fundamentalist movements.

3) You now seem to be trying to justify the demonisation of Catholics as agents of a foreign power, rather than denying it.

37,

The fact that Protestant monarchs often ended up having to rebuild the social infrastructure destroyed during the Reformation (which is, of course, why there are so many schools named after Reformation monarchs) hardly justifies destroying it in the first place. In fact, the reconstitution of civic institutions is something that totalitarian regimes are prone to doing.

36. oldandrew

‘ I was referring to monastries, church property, land, abbeys, chantries, almshouses, schools. ‘

How did they acquire this land and property? Since land is created and can’t be produced they must have expropriated it themselves or bought it from someone who did not produce it. Therefore, it’s a case of the kettle calling the pot black.

42. Roger Mexico

Paul Sagar. To quote Wikipedia:

The so-called Union of the Crowns (March 1603) was the accession of James VI, King of Scots, to the throne of England, thus associating Scotland and England under one monarch….

It must be stressed that the term itself, though now generally accepted, is misleading; for this was merely a personal or dynastic union …

So the article used the “generally accepted” term to distinguish 1603 from 1707. Unless you were thinking of some form of metalwork?

40,

My point was not one of establishing property rights here, just pointing out that this property and wealth was a often at the service of communities, but was expropriated by the state for the benefit of the gentry and nobility.

Suggestions that the Catholic theology and the Inquisition were liberating are hardly credible in the light of what happened to Galileo. In 1533, he was condemned for publicising evidence for a heretical theory of a heliocentric universe and, as a result, sentenced to house imprisonment where he remained until his death.

“Galileo died in 1642. Exactly 350 years later, in 1992, Pope John Paul II formally exonerated Galileo, relieving him posthomously of the church’s proscriptions.”
http://www.bookrags.com/biography/galileo-galilei-wsd/

These reflections of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on Galileo were published in 1990:
http://ncronline.org/node/11541

We might reflect on whether Newton could have flourished in 17th-18th century England had similar restrictions on speculative scientific research applied here.

David Hume (1711-76), an essentially secular philosopher, felt constrained to ensure that his sceptical essays: Dialogues Concerning Natual Religion, were only published anonymously and posthumously:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialogues_Concerning_Natural_Religion

During the pioneering industrial revolution in Britain, the ascendancy of laissez-faire ideologies meant that schooling was left to the churches and to charities. The Education Act of 1870 created administrative structures to provide universal primary education funded by property taxes as it came to be recognised that schooling standards in Britain were lagging those in mainland western Europe. By implication, the churches and charities were not up to the job.

“We have noted a substantial body of original research . . . which found that stagnant or declining literacy underlay the ‘revolution’ of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. . . Britain in 1850 was the wealthiest country in the world but only in the second rank as regards literacy levels. [Nick] Crafts has shown that in 1870 when Britain was world economic leader, its school enrolment ratio was only 0.168 compared with the European norm of 0.514 and ‘Britain persistently had a relatively low rate of accumulation of human capital’.”
Source: Sanderson: Education, economic change and society in 1780-1870 (Cambridge UP, 1995) p.61

43,

I think you’l find that the historical consensus suggests that what happened to Gallileo was the exception not the rule.

Not sure what your point about education in the nineteenth century is.

I appreciate that history allows for intelligent debate, I just don’t think the sectarianism of the original article here falls within those bounds.

the original article may have a different approach to history than yours, but your use of ‘sectarianism’ implies the article is inciting hatred against Catholics (or Irish). I wouldn’t publish anything like that myself and disagree the original article is doing that. In the article referred to by Padraig in his Observer piece – I disagreed with unity (who published it straight as he has rights to (as does John B) in the comments underneath that article.

47. Roger Mexico

@oldandrew

To add to the number of points in your initial post that have already been dealt with:

If In Britain, the Reformation was the brutal suppression by the ruling classes of the religion of the people, against the wishes of the people …, it makes Scotland rather difficult to explain, what with the monarch there being Catholic.

The one thing you can not describe the Reformation as being is “anti-intellectual”. The Reformers believed that everyone should study the word of God. By contrast Catholicism forbade the reading of the Bible in any language except Latin. As a result Protestants tended to be literate, while among Catholics literacy was regarded with suspicion, particularly if in the vernacular and by members of non-elite groups.

You say:

The Protestant narrative about Catholicism is that it is brutal, *foreign*, primitive and incompatible with loyalty to England.

I don’t know about “is”. You may not have been out much since 1829, but I can assure you that most people nowadays would regard catholics just as English/British as those of other religions or none.

“Brutal” and “primitive” may never have applied – think how those subtle” Jesuits used to be denounced. However, if you go back to the 16th/17th century, the other terms were simply true. The Papacy, then a middle-sized European power, told catholics that their religious duty was to overthrow the government. Sounds pretty foreign and disloyal to me.

“Due to a combination of racial hatred and lack of zeal, the successful conversion of the rest of the British Isles to sensible religion failed to encompass Ireland.”

Absolutely. The fundamental problem with Cromwell’s Irish campaign was its lack of zeal.

By the way, I think it is splendid that LC is giving such generous air-time to Orangeism. It’s the new politics in action.

@44: “Gallileo was the exception not the rule.”

This listing of heretics burned at the stake at the instance of the Catholic church suggests that Galileo was far from being a lonely exception:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_burned_as_heretics

By reports, executions for the crime of heresy at the instance of the Catholic church continued through to 1826:

“Cayetano Ripoll (allegedly from Solsona 1778 – Valencia 1826), was a poor schoolmaster in Valencia, Spain, who was hanged to death on 26 July 1826 for allegedly teaching Deist principles. Ripoll has the dubious honor of being the last person known to have been executed for having committed the ‘crime’ of heresy, under sentence from a ‘Church authority,’ specifically the Spanish Inquisition. His last words were, “I die reconciled to God and to man.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayetano_Ripoll

Stalin had an excellent model as a guide for the Moscow show trials starting in 1936 but then he had started his illustrious career by training for the priesthood, albeit in the Orthodox Church.

To all people talking about “The Reformation” (whichever side of the argument you’re on):

Please stop. There was not one reformation, there were several reformations. Including a top-down reformation, several religious reformations some of which were doctrine-based some more cultural some political, many of which combined and all of which interacted with each other. Some were intellectual, some were anti-intellectual. Some were opportunist. Lumping in Henry VIII with, say, Anabaptists on the basis both wanted to move away from Catholicism is like comparing Alan Johnson to left anarchists on the basis that neither much like the Tories.

Why is the Catholic Church presently under such sustained and intense attack? (Apart from the disgusting behaviour of some paedophiles amongst its ranks. But then most paedophiles are secular. Why has for example the secular Margaret Hodge – who played an equivalent role in excusing paedophiles in Islington to that the Pope is accused of doing – not only not become a target of equivalent hatred, but has even been promoted to the position of cabinet minister? Is the Labour Party in favour of paedophilia?)

I’d give to reasons for this fanatical attack on the Catholic Church.

1/. The Catholic Church is the only large international organization which consistently, in word and in deed, supports the poor of the world, and speaks out against the excesses of the rich.

2/. The Catholic Church is the only large international organization which consistently dares to speak out in support of the Palestinians.

Andrew

I am indeed justfying the fear in the early modern era that catholics could not be trusted. After all, the various catholic rebelions, invasions and assasinations attempts, ordered by the Pope, were a very real threat to England.

What I don’t understand is why you don’t think that was the case. Are you pretending that the Pope did not promise the gates of heaven would be open to any catholic who murdered Elizabeth? Are you pretending that the Catholic Church did not ectively encourage and help fund the assembly of Spanish invasion fleets?

I don’t see how you can.

Also – it is worth saying that I didn’t rightly assume you wouldn’t take the slaughter of pagans as witches seriously. I had thought it was widely accepted historical information. Apparently some people don’t do history though. (More’s the pity)

JohnF

1 – The church is also an organisation that has overseen the deaths of millions and millions of the world’s poorest peoples by its own act in the last 20 years. Had it just permitted them to wear condomns many children would not be orphans today.

Also

Hodge is very much a figure of hate among many. As is Haringey council. But even then it is not entirely comparable to an institution deliberately hiding the rape of children from the public, from the courts, and from its own members, in order to save the careers of its favoured celebate sons. That is pure and simple corruption and reflects an institutionalised view that the children are nothing because priests and the reputation of the church are more important.

2 – Not the only one. The Red Cross does likewise. And the Red Crescent. Indeed huge numbers of aid organisations with no equivelent history of condoning anti-semitic slaughter do just the same. And it is things like Papal support of the holocaust that makes it hard to feel unambiguous about its views on matters relating to Israel.

I forgot the other international atrocity which the Catholic Church alone amongst international bodies dared to stand unequivocally against – the Iraq War.

No wonder it has such enemies.

47,

“The one thing you can not describe the Reformation as being is “anti-intellectual”. The Reformers believed that everyone should study the word of God.”

Far from being a boon to literacy, elementary education in Britain took until the 18th century to recover from the damge done by the Reformation.

“By contrast Catholicism forbade the reading of the Bible in any language except Latin.”

This is an anti-Catholic myth that is so old that Thomas More pointed out that it was false in “A Dialogue Concerning Heresies”

“As a result Protestants tended to be literate, while among Catholics literacy was regarded with suspicion, particularly if in the vernacular and by members of non-elite groups.”

Actually the pre-Reformation Catholic culture had a great respect for literacy and reading. Primers (books of liturgy and prayer using both Latin and the Vernacular) were very, very popular, the best sellers of their day.

“but your use of ‘sectarianism’ implies the article is inciting hatred against Catholics (or Irish)”

I don’t know if it’s inciting that hatred, or is just for the benefit of people who already hate Catholics, but there are bits in it that Iain Paisley would be delighted with.

For pity’s sake,

“sensible religion”?
“Oliver Cromwell”?
“treachery”
“evil foreign overlord”?

49,

The claim was that Gallileo showed the Catholic Church was hostile to science. I pointed out that the Gallileo case was unique rather than part of a general tendency. I have no idea what this has to do with the burning of heretics given that

a) Gallileo was not executed

and

b) an objection to the killing of heretics hardly strengthens the case for the English Reformation

That said I can’t even begin to imagine the mindset of anyone that would try and blame the Eastern Orthodox church for Stalinism.

“I am indeed justfying the fear in the early modern era that catholics could not be trusted. ”

You are justifying it in the same way as 9/11 would “justify” oppressing Muslims. I am not suggesting that there weren’t Catholics who were hostile to the government that was suppressing their religion, but that hardly makes it true that all Catholics were traitors receiving orders from the Pope, nor does it justify the same attitude existing for hundreds of years, nor does it explain why Catholicism had to be supressed in the first place.

53,

“The church is also an organisation that has overseen the deaths of millions and millions of the world’s poorest peoples by its own act in the last 20 years. Had it just permitted them to wear condomns many children would not be orphans today.”

Is this the “Catholics spread AIDS” myth or the return of the Malthusian idea that the poor shouldn’t be allowed to breed?

“The Catholic Church is the only large international organization which consistently, in word and in deed, supports the poor of the world, and speaks out against the excesses of the rich.”

That begs questions about how far the Catholic Church is responsible for creating social conditions which foster poverty and impede economic development, its persistent opposition to contraception being one outstanding example.

It surely can’t be accidental that the countries which have had the best performing economies since WW2 have mostly been in east and south-east asia, where the Christian churches have had little historic influence, while South American economies, where the Catholic church has had a pervasive historic influence, have mostly performed comparatively poorly.

Isn’t it significant that the mostly Protestant northern countries of western Europe have better performing economies than in southern European countries where the Catholic church has had a pervasive historic influence? Ireland’s economy did a great deal better as Ireland became increasingly secular and abandoned De Valera’s prescription for a rural idyll with the Catholic church ascendant.

An instructive example of the damaging influence of the Catholic church in Ireland is what happened to the Irish novelist Edna O’Brien. Her first novel: Country Girls, which rapidly became a best-seller in Europe after its publication in 1960 while, in Ireland, it was banned.

Im not 100% clear on this, who am I allowed to hate? Or more importantly whmo am I not allowed?

@50. Brilliant – so the reason the Catholic Church is getting a bad press is because of a Jewish conspiracy? FFS.

Beyond that, @51 sums it up. The reason Catholic priests in England were persecuted in the early days of the Church of England is that they were, actually and directly, backing a foreign ruler’s plans to assassinate the Head of State and install a puppet government. I’m no Joe McCarthy, but if you’re *part of an institution dedicated to overthrowing the state through violent means*, then some degree of oppression is pretty much necessary. Just as I do actually support locking up failed Islamist bomb plotters, even though they *don’t* pose an existential threat to the government.

In Ireland, on the other hand, being Catholic is a default, and so fair enough.

So is this the line now? Suppressing Catholicism was self-defence because Catholics were hostile to the government that was suppressing them?

This is one of the most sectarian pieces I’ve read on a supposedly ‘liberal’ blog. Can you imagine a similar piece about any other religion in the UK? It just demonstrates the double standard bigotry of ‘liberals’ here.

About the Enlightenment. Yes, there was a atheist wing which ‘liberals’ here are so proud of. But the atheist wing led to the rise of religion hating, especially Christian hating, philosophers like Nietzsche. In many of his works he said “God is dead”. He felt Christianity was a “slave morality” designed for losers which kept the strong men in check and exalted the lowly. His ideas about the übermensch (or “overman”), a type of superior human being, were extremely popular with the Nazis. The rest is history.

The bigotry of some of today’s ‘liberals’ like the ones on this thread reflect Nietzsche’s intellectual hatred for Christianity, and Catholicism in particular. Why attack the Catholic Church? It’s the largest the Christian denomination in the world which refuses to succumb to modern secular society and morality. Many liberal Protestant churches like the Anglican Church have caved in. The Catholic Church is the only church that has an unbroken line to Simon Peter, the head of the apostles, entrusted by Christ to be the “rock” on which He would build His church:

“I tell you that you are Peter, and it is on this rock that I will build my congregation, and the powers of hell will not conquer it.”

Beginning with the Protestant Reformation, Christianity in Britain has eroded to the wishy washy state it is today. Why are secularists still trying to undermine what little Christian faith is left in this country? Many of the things that you cherish, like the equality of human beings, are derived from Christian teaching. There is no secular basis for these values, and when secular people defend them they always employ unrecognised Christian assumptions.

As the Christian influence fades, so too will Christian values like human dignity and marriage. Nietzsche too predicted this too.

Jacob,

Many of the things that you cherish, like the equality of human beings, are derived from Christian teaching. There is no secular basis for these values, and when secular people defend them they always employ unrecognised Christian assumptions.

Civil rights have been under development since well before Christ.

@63: “This is one of the most sectarian pieces I’ve read on a supposedly ‘liberal’ blog. Can you imagine a similar piece about any other religion in the UK? It just demonstrates the double standard bigotry of ‘liberals’ here.”

C’mon. For the most part the contributions here are argued and analytic. I suppose a case can be made for writing off Max Weber as sectarian for his essay: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) but that is rather besides the thesis he develops:
http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/weber/protestant-ethic/index.htm

RH Tawney could also be described as sectarian for his book: Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926), but that too would be beside the point:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._H._Tawney

@63: “As the Christian influence fades, so too will Christian values like human dignity and marriage”

Christian values such as those expressed in the parable of the talents?

“28 Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Matthew chp. 25]
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2025:14-30

And this?

“12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” [Matthew chp. 7]
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+7%3A12&version=NIV

But what if others have different preferences?

But what if others have different preferences?

Quite. George Bernard Shaw: “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

@66: “Quite. George Bernard Shaw: ‘Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.’”

Exactly. Confucius makes much better sense:

“[The Analects: CHAP. XXIII]. Tsze-kung asked, saying, ‘Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?’ The Master said, ‘Is not RECIPROCITY such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.’
http://s3.amazonaws.com/manybooks_pdf/confuciuetext02cnfcs10?AWSAccessKeyId=17359FS6G622SA3TH7R2&Expires=1282564875&Signature=1VpwzV7EdyQvAp%2Fe4R8u3%2BP5jK4%3D

Why attack the Catholic Church? It’s the largest the Christian denomination in the world which refuses to succumb to modern secular society and morality

It’s almost like you came up with a brilliant answer to your own question that proved my point, or something.

70. margin4error

Old Andrew

You seem to have at least hit on one truth.

To have compared the Popes of the early modern era to Bin Laden now (#57) is very apt.

Both sought to overthrow heritic religions and their governments and force their one true faith on everyone with, if neccesary, the violent slaughter of innocent heretics.

However, the analogy stops there somewhat because most muslims are are not loyal servants to Bin Laden and not members of Al Qaeda, whereas all Catholics (I repeat – ALL catholics) were loyal to their Bin Laden (the Pope) and were members of their Al Qaeda (The Roman Catholic Church). That was entirely the point of them retaining Roman Catholicism.

So wheras it is clearly ridiculous to suspect all muslims of disloyalty and a willingness to destroy us, it is fair to suspect all those loyal to Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Hence it was sensible to suspect all Catholics of disloyalty as their very catholicism required their disloyalty to England because their faith required that Papal doctrine was the word of god and be followed by all catholics.

Catholicism sadly had no equivelent enlightened doctrine to the Muslim principle that within any state, muslim or not, abiding by the law of the land is a primary expectation of god.

So Jacob would you say the Cathars were learning valuable lessons about ‘ human dignity ‘ or suffering a genocide?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catharism

I have no time to waste debating with fanatical atheists and anti-Catholic bigots on this thread. Whatever violence was committed in the name of Catholicism is nothing compared with the savagery of atheists in recent times. Just a few figures to illustrate my point:

Mao Zedong – 40 million
Stalin – 20 million
Pol Pot – up to 3 million
Hitler – 12 million

Hitler was not a practising Christian. He was heavily influenced by atheist ideology – the kind Nietzsche developed. Privately he hated Christianity and promised that “through the peasantry we shall be able to destroy Christianity.” He blamed the Jews for inventing Christianity. He also condemned Christianity for its opposition to evolution.

You see, atheists have no parallel in history for the number of corpses they have piled up. Not even Osama bin Laden in his wildest dreams couldn’t have perpetrated the kind of savagery atheists have done in recent times.

So much for the atheist or ‘liberal’ ire against Catholicism when in fact atheists have done far worse things, and will no doubt do in the future…

@71:

What a silly argument it is to claim that all secularists regardless approve(d) of the democides of Mao Zedong, Stalin, Hitler etc. Are we to seriously suppose that the likes of Voltaire, David Hume, and Tom Paine were really advocating totalitarian despotism contrary to what they actually wrote?

Category abuse is not a rational response to the many arguments and the evidence put here about what the Catholic Church stands for and the harm it has inflicted.

Jacob,

He also condemned Christianity for its opposition to evolution.

Oh no, how dreadful.

/sarcasm

75. margin4error

Jacob

Not quite sure why you equate criticism of the catholic church with bigotry or fundementalist atheism. I for one am a non-believer, but while I dislike the church I don’t dislike religious people. I imagine many of them find great solace in their faith and inspiration too, just as many children take great joy from believing in fairies and finding Nemo and so on. Why would I decry that?

In fact I believe christians use the term “hate the sin, not the sinner”

I guess the atheist equivelent is “hate the church, not the churchgoer”

The Catholic Church has done unspeakable evil to the world over two millenia and caused incalculable harm. Worse still, it continues to do so in many many ways. (discouraging the use of condomns is a key one, given the prevelance of AIDS in much of the catholic world)

That doesn’t mean all catholics have. Most just go to work, try to earn a living, and try to give a better life to their kids.

“given the prevelance of AIDS in much of the catholic world”

What?

77. the a&e charge nurse

[75] oh, come on now you are splitting hairs.

There is even a wiki item entitled “Catholic Church and AIDS”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_AIDS

I believe the pope is on record for telling people in Africa that “condoms are wrong”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7947460.stm

Now bear in mind that 22 million people are infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, (according to UN figures for 2007).

Meanwhile thousands of Irish women travel to England to abort unwanted pregnancies;
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1483530

Catholic teachings are simply out of step with rational thinking (same with all the other religions), and that’s fine until these beliefs begin to affect, for the worse, a significant % of the population.

old andrew

>Just a few figures to illustrate my point:

You could add the central role that the secular theories of Social Darwinism played in the Rwanda Genocide.

77,

Is that a reply to me?

If people are going to claim that AIDs is common in the Catholic world it’s hardly hair splitting to ask them to back it up.

After all, they might be some kind of bizarre racist that believes all of sub-Saharan Africa is one single (Catholic) culture.

margin4error

For someone who thinks the Church has done “unspeakable evil to the world over two millenia” I think your views are extremely biased. You clearly don’t know what the Church does do around the world. What about all the Catholic schools, colleges, hospitals, and other institutions? Our universities started out as religious educational centres. There are places in the world where church run institutions are the only thing people have. Whether you like it or not, Christianity has played a significant role in the development of western civilisation, and for the better in my opinion. Our values and our institutions, social and political, are a by-product.

One of the founders of modern science, Richard Bacon, was a deeply religious man who wanted science to confirm theological assumptions. You see, rationalism has always been an integral part of Christianity unlike what many people seem to believe today.

Condoms are not the cure to Africa’s problems. In fact it doesn’t stop all sexually transmitted diseases. What do think about abortions? Is the killing of millions of unborn babies all over the world okay? Don’t they have a right to live? The Catholic Church is one institution that opposes this mass slaughter. In Russia, one of the most atheist countries in the world, there are more abortions than live births! Europe is facing a huge demographic problem unless it continues to import lots of people from the developing world.

You may be an unbeliever, but you are practically an atheist. There are fine distinctions between various categories of atheists (secularists, nonbeleivers, skeptics, ‘liberals’, etc) but essentially they are quite similar. They are not theists.

81. margin4error

75

Latin America has some of the fastest rising levels of HIV in the world, and makes up roughly half of the world’s catholic population. (Add in catholics in the USA and it is unambiguously over half) It also has relatively low rates of reporting, which raises concerns that figures are under-estimated. For context, Brazil has an official HIV infected population of over 700,000.

Now that doesn’t on the face of it compare with places like the Congo or Rwanda which have among the absolute highest rates in part because AIDS has been a weapon of war, or South Africa where apharteid’s legacy is one of rapid spread before proper medical provision, advice and reporting was ever considered, let alone set up for black people. But it is still a large number of people. And unlike Russia (similar levels to Brazil) it is spread almost exclusively by sex there. (Russia has seen unusually high proportions of cases result from intravenous drug use)

I know this goes unsaid, but the Catholic Church is no longer a European church by demography. That is partly because of static populations in Europe, but also partly because of falls in religiousity in developed nations.

82. margin4error

Jacob

Much like the British and Roman Empires, the catholic church, like other churches, has done some good too. I don’t deny that at all – and there is no “like it or not” because I like it. Why wouldn’t I? People doing good things is well worth liking. It is one of the reasons I differentiate between the institution and the believer. Faith often inspires religious people to devote their lives to helping others. (I have a christian friend in Africa now, supporting a local school much as you describe). Sadly it also leads Popes to kill lots of people, hence my objecton to the church, not the churchgoer.

That doesn’t however mean that the catholic church has not done unspeakable evil, much as the roman and british empires did.

Now by “non-believer” I should stress I wasn’t distinguishing myself from other atheists. I have little interest in what different types of atheism there are. I simply believe there is no god, just as I believe there are no fairies at the bottom of my garden and that Star Wars is just an entertaining film.

I’m going to assume you are a catholic. I’m going to do that that mainly because you say “Condoms are not the cure to Africa’s problems,” as opposed to the more accurate and sensible “Condoms are only part of the cure to Africa’s problems.”

Obviously better medical treatment facilities and education are also crucial. But where they are provided without condoms they fail to halt AIDS. Where condoms are provided without them, they fail to halt AIDS. Africa needs both. The Pope would deny them one.

On abortion, I’m a man so tend to think this is a debate for women, whose bodies are involved and whose deaths legal abortion prevents. That said, more widespread use of contraception would probably help reduce the “killing of millions of unborn babies”

@74 indeed, I used the same phrase in the article. But good work on fighting the good fight; I don’t think you’re gonna change any minds here though (see: Jesuits on education…)

BTW, I can’t believe nobody’s had a go at my footnote. Does that mean it’s accepted?

85. the a&e charge nurse

[82] “I don’t think you’re gonna change any minds here” – and therein lies a fundamental problem since we are dealing with beliefs on the one hand, and an imperfect, though rational understanding of the world on the other.

“Now that doesn’t on the face of it compare with places like the Congo or Rwanda which have among the absolute highest rates in part because AIDS has been a weapon of war”

More importantly, it doesn’t compare with the rates in the South American countries that have non-Catholic majorities, making it pretty hard to justify claims that it is spreading due to Catholicism.

One of the founders of modern science, Richard Bacon, was a deeply religious man who wanted science to confirm theological assumptions.

I think you mean Francis Bacon.

Incidentally,

“In [An Advertisement Touching an Holy War] Bacon dares to suggest that a revolution in thinking and acting is necessary because European intellectual and spiritual life as well as European politics had been captured by religious fanaticism that threatened to plunge Renaissance Europe into another dark age.” – Amazon

Yes ukliberty. I meant Francis Bacon.

As for civil rights, the separation of state and religion is something that goes back to Jesus:

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

i.e. It pre-dates the Reformation.

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Clever stuff. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really illuminate how much is due to Caesar and how much to God, so we aren’t much further forward.

Beginning with the Protestant Reformation, Christianity in Britain has eroded to the wishy washy state it is today

Wot – you see Henry the VIII, Cromwell or Elizabeth I as the forerunners of some kind of effete liberalism? Are you drunk?

Old andrew

Suriname and Guyana I believe are the only two South American states with non catholic majorities.

Populations…
Suriname – 750,000
Guyana – 450,000

So that’s less than 1% of the population of South America. If you are smart and learned any basic statistical method at school you’ll know that is too small a sample to compare, especially with such a high statistical variance resulting from poor reporting rates among the populations across the continent.

And even then, you would be using that statistical anomoly to make the case that what? Preventing the use of condoms reduces AIDS? Seriously?

old andrew

Also – I just realised what you accused me of. But I didn’t say it spreads because of catholicism. I said the catholic church is killing people by not helping to reduce its spread by promoting the use of condoms.

Jacob

Actually seperation of church and state to some extent pre-dates Jesus (or the time he is rumoured to have existed)

The roman empire itself from long before 0ad had distinctions between the roles of religious men and the roles of political men. It was also widely accepted that different parts of the empire had different gods and that was similarly fine – where it was not oppressive of significant Roman norms or jeopardised Roman rule.

It fell apart somewhat in later centuries as kings claimed ‘devine right to rule’ and popes engaged in political manipulations. But it is largely returned to the world in various forms again now.

Jacob,

As for civil rights, the separation of state and religion is something that goes back to Jesus:

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Well, I agree with Bob B, it doesn’t tell us much

And I think the Ancient Greeks talked about the separation of state and religion before Jesus – I dare say it was suggested before the Greeks.

An underlying point being that some of this stuff isn’t original to Jesus or Christianity (again contradicting your claim @64).

“So that’s less than 1% of the population of South America. If you are smart and learned any basic statistical method at school you’ll know that is too small a sample to compare”

If you were aware of basic statistical method you’d know that statistical significance did not depend on the size of a sample as a proportion of the population.

But this is beside the point. Nobody was using any rigorous statistical measures to establish the connection between Catholics and AIDs, they were just trying to paint a broad picture, so I just pointed out the most obvious flaw in the picture that was being painted.

If you want to bring statistical methods into it then go ahead.

“Also – I just realised what you accused me of. But I didn’t say it spreads because of catholicism. I said the catholic church is killing people by not helping to reduce its spread by promoting the use of condoms.”

So just to check, you are not claiming that the Catholic church is actually increasing the rate of HIV transmission, or that they are not reducing it by their actions, you are simply complaining that they are not using a particular method (encouraging condom use) to reduce it? And you call failure to do things your way, regardless of whether your way is most effective or not, “killing people”?

On the one hand, the Catholic Church is one of the most revolting institutions ever to have existed, second only to the USSR in terms of ‘well-meaning ideas invented by a nice chap that you could have enjoyed a cup of tea with, taken up by insane evil egomaniacs and turned into an excuse for tyranny and genocide’.

God Almighty.

Sane, balanced, rational? Huh, some hope.

@94: “An underlying point being that some of this stuff isn’t original to Jesus or Christianity”

I found that comparison @68 between a much quoted Christian ethic and Confucius – which wasn’t an original discovery on my part – highly instructive.

We tend to be so steeped in (or indoctrinated by) Christian theology that we fail to notice the similarities and differences with the ethical precepts of other theologies and alternative prescriptions for social harmony – since the teachings of Confucius aren’t purported to be a religion as he was a secularist.

IMO we ought to be more humble about how Christianity stacks up against other world religions.

A curious feature of India’s culture is that Hindu ethics, derived from a polytheistic religion, are compatible with a pluralist democracy, which tends not to be true of Islamic states and which hasn’t always been true of supposedly Christian states either. After all, the notion of the divine right of kings to rule, as propagated by the medieval Christian church, isn’t compatible with the contending notions about democratic government.

99. Maureen O'Brien

Due to a combination of racial hatred and lack of zeal, the successful conversion of the rest of the British Isles to sensible religion failed to encompass Ireland.

Sensible religion — the CofE???!! LOL!!

ukliberty

“And I think the Ancient Greeks talked about the separation of state and religion before Jesus – I dare say it was suggested before the Greeks.”

You are right to an extent. However, the Greeks and Romans viewed civil rights differently to our view of them today. For them, civil rights were simply the freedom to participate in the making of laws. Greek democracy was direct democracy in which every citizen could show up in the agora, debate issues of taxes and war, and then vote on what action the polis should take. But there was no individual freedom. All private actions were subject to severe scrutiny. No importance was given to individual independence, neither in relation to opinions, nor to labour, nor to religion. The right to choose one’s own religion would have been seen as criminal. Effectively the individual was a slave in all his private relations.

Our modern concept of civil rights we inherit from Christianity. Christianity emphasises we are moral agents, created in God’s own image, and given free will to do good. God has also granted the same freedom for all humans – something unthinkable in the Greek and Roman world. Christianity also introduced the concept of servant leadership. The role of the leader was not simply to lead but also to serve his people. This is based on Mark 10:43, 45:

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.”

And also Luke 22:27:

“Who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

In the new Christian framework, leaders were judged by how well they served the people. This is all a massive departure from ancient Greece and Rome when human life had very little value.

100
God gave humans free-will until they sinned, Genesis 3.14 and The Book of Revalations appears to me to be as deterministic as it gets.

@99: “Sensible religion — the CofE???!! LOL!!”

The main reason we can regard CoE, Britain’s established religion, as fairly “sensible” is precisely because it isn’t intrusive and hardly interfers in the affairs of state – and btw I’m not a CoE subscriber.

France and Italy went through hard times to get the church out of politics.

In the case of Italy, it took the dictatorship of Mussolini for concerted attempt to confine the Catholic Curch to the Vatican and that wasn’t completely successful, hence the dominance of the Christian Democrat Party in Italy throughout most of the post-war period. The reverberations of the indictment of Andreotti is what seems to have finally done for the ascendancy of the Christian Democrats in Italian politics:

“Giulio Andreotti, Italy’s former prime minister, was acquitted last night by the country’s highest court of ordering the Mafia to murder a journalist. . . ”
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/andreotti-acquitted-of-ordering-journalists-murder-585266.html

Imagine a situation where a long-serving British PM was indicted for ordering the murder of a critical journalist and initially convicted . .

“Hence it was sensible to suspect all Catholics of disloyalty as their very catholicism required their disloyalty to England because their faith required that Papal doctrine was the word of god and be followed by all catholics.”

Apart from the usual misrepresentation of Papal authority and general nuttiness of this post, I can’t help thinking that this is a particularly bizarre argument to make follwoing an OP that mentions Oliver Cromwell as a representative of “sensible religion”.

In the two centuries after the Reformation, Protestants overthrew and executed one king and established a Puritan state, and later overthrew another king by collaborating with a foreign invasion and putting a foreign Protestant monarch on the throne.

And Catholics are the disloyal ones?

@103: “Protestants overthrew and executed one king and established a Puritan state, and later overthrew another king by collaborating with a foreign invasion and putting a foreign Protestant monarch on the throne. ”

The relevant question is why did Parliament in 1688 vote to extend an invitation to William of Orange and Mary (daughter of James II) to accept the throne and rule as joint sovereigns?

Whatever else, that invitation with the subsequent Act of Settlement of 1701 established the important and innovative constitutional principle that the legitimate sovereigns of England rule with the consent of their subjects, as represented through Parliament, and no longer by divine right, the prevailing doctrine propagated by the Catholic Church at that time.

What destroyed the popular credibility of the Catholic Church in England was the experience of at least 280 Protestant heretics burned at the stake in public during the reign of Mary Tudor (1553-8), the sailing of the Spanish Armada in 1588 with a Papal Commission to restore Catholicism to England and the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot of November 1605 which would have inflicted much damage to the historic buildings in and around Parliament Square:

“Guy Fawkes could have changed the face of London if his 1605 plot had not been foiled, explosion experts have said. His 2,500 kg of gunpowder could have caused chaos and devastation over a 490-metre radius, they have calculated. Fawkes’ planned blast was powerful enough to destroy Westminster Hall and the Abbey, with streets as far as Whitehall suffering damage, they say.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3240135.stm

Very likely, popular fear at the prospect of a return of Catholicism to the realm was further stoked by the flow of Protestant Huguenots from France seeking asylum here from the massacres there, starting with the St Bartholemew’s Day massacre of 23 August 1572 when thousands were slaughtered:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Bartholomew's_Day_massacre

There are further historic clues indicating the scale of popular apprehensions in England about Catholicism – such as initially blaming the fire of London of 1666 on Catholic arsonists (without good cause, it should be said) and the Gordon riots of 1780 in London when catholics were hunted down and killed in what amounted to an anti-Catholic pogrom.

The resistance in Parliament to passing the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 is further evidence of the extent of populist opposition to the Catholic Church.

105. margin4error

Old Andrew

I’m claiming the Pope refuses aid to charities that tackle the spread of AIDS if they also encourage the use of condoms. Which is something just about every sensible aid organisation does as it helps reduce the spread of AIDS. Likewise he actively discourages his adherants in AIDS aflicted countries from reducing their exposure by wearing condoms.

That lack of support kills people and that discouragement kills people.

I’m not claiming catholicism or christianity causes AIDS. I’m claiming that the Pope could prevent a lot of his followers from getting it but he prefers that they die and leave thier children orphaned.

106. margin4error

Old Andrew

We seem to have moved on quite a way from the debate about whether criticising the Pope is racism and why it was that England and Scotland developed a particularly paranoid view of the catholic faith in the early modern era.

So am I to gather that you acknowledge that it is not racism now?

Jacob,

I think it’s an error to lump together all Greek and Roman law. Also, I’m not talking about just the Greeks and Romans but all civilisations up to 0AD and beyond in and around Europe, the Middle East, Asia… The development of civil rights (and cultures) should not be viewed in isolation; these people talked to each other, you know, and travelled about a fair bit. Nor should civil rights development be viewed in isolation from legal codes. They’ve all been under development for thousands of years – we have written laws that are four thousand years old and we’re aware of older legal codes (because they are referred to in other texts). Nor should they be viewed in isolation from the events of the day – I imagine Edward Coke was at least as influenced by King Charles I’s behaviour as he was by Jesus, in terms of thinking about what rights we ought to have, and in his co-authorship of the Petition of Right he had huge influence on the development of the rights we enjoy today.

I’m not saying Christianity had nothing to do with the promulgation of civil rights. Just that it isn’t the be-all-and-end-all, and sometimes other religions and cultures did some of it earlier and better, e.g. the Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity; see the Confucius quote, above; there are similar lines in early Buddhist and Hindu scriptures, again hundreds of years before Christ, and I dare say earlier religions and cultures expressed similar ‘rules’.

Furthermore, some ‘Christian’ societies were not, and aren’t, as supportive of freedoms and civil rights as you appear to suggest. I’m not having a go at Jesus but some ‘Christians’ were (and are) arseholes. In Christian Rome, Jews were pretty much the lowest of the low. Yes, there support for freedom to an extent, depending on who you are or what you do, but there isn’t, for example, the freedom to have sex with whomever you please… (literally) God forbid.

This is one of the most disgracefully bigotted and unpleasant threads ever to have appeared on LC, and deserves to be classed with boilerplate racism and antisemitism. It is sad and worrying that Sunny seems to have a blind spot about this.

Note the use of the present tense in John Band’s OP: the Catholic Church is one of the most revolting institutions ….. Really? So the Catholic Church today is just as murderous as the Soviet Union was in living memory, eh? Funny that.I thought several hundred years had passed since the CC burned anyone at the stake, practised torture etc.

I can well understand why people may be revolted by some of the actions of the Church many hundreds of years ago. But they would surely (should surely) be even more revolted by the actions of the temporal authorities during the same period? It would be absurd to slag off the French State (today) for the crimes of the French State hundreds of years ago. Ditto the Spanish state. But even in the heyday of the Inquisition, the secular authorities in Spain and France outstripped the Inquisition in terms of violence and persecution.

Fact is, the Catholic Church may still have its faults today, but at least it spends most of its time and money on doing good…. education, healthcare etc in the developing world. Secular states, by contrast, are in many cases still involved in the conquest/killing/warfare activities that the CC got out out of some considerable time back.

“What destroyed the popular credibility of the Catholic Church in England was…”

Wow, you really are incredibly sectarian. According to you everything that Protestants did was provoked by previous behaviour on the part of Catholics, and everything that Catholics did was sheer malice.

Is there not some part of you that can see the double standard here?

And are you really going to defend the right of a Parliament of landowners to decide what is or isn’t the will of the people? It was that self-same class that pillaged the churches in the first place. The Reformation was, in G.K.Chesterton’s words, “the Rebellion of the Rich” and the fact that the political representatives of the rich were willing to support and maintain it, is hardly a sign of its popular support.

“That lack of support kills people and that discouragement kills people.”

The point is that refusal to support the same AIDs prevention strategies as you, cannot be described as “killing people” unless it results in more people dying than otherwise would have.

I also wonder if you would really follow the logical consequences of the principle that it is “killing people” to approve of riskier sexual practices. Approving of unprotected, vaginal intercourse within monogamous marriage is approving of something far less risky than any number of other sexual practices. Is someone who approves of, say, anal sex, also to be accused of killing people too? That’s a far, far bigger statistical risk of transmitting HIV.

Or could it, possibly, be just a bit ridiculous to try and paint differences in sexual mores as akin to mass murder?

106,

Ridiculous strawman. I have never said that criticising the Pope is racism. It can’t be denied that demonising the Pope is often part of sectarian hatred, but that is beside the point when the original article here is far more sectarian than that in a number of ways.

Is any comment about these news reports from the BBC website in recent years necessary?

“Renowned Italian priest and exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth has released a new book claiming that satanic sects have infiltrated the Vatican and their influence reaches even the College of Cardinals. . . ”
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/288581

As for the remedy, counter measures have already commenced:

“A Vatican-backed college is launching a new course for exorcists – Roman Catholic priests who cast out evil spirits from the possessed. Lessons at the prestigious Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum will include the history of Satanism and its context in the Bible. . . ”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4272689.stm

113. margin4error

Old Andrew

I can’t help point out that for some one who accuses a lot of people of sectarianism for their dislike of an institution and its leadership, you don’t half come across as sectarian by failing to acknowledge the deep faults (historical and recent) of that institution and its leaderhip were and are pretty horrendous, while also contrasting pretty much every such action with protestants who you claim did worse things while at the same time not much backing that up.

On AIDS though, lets be clear

ABC works.

Looks up groups like Avert and you’ll find yourself directed towards all sorts of reports showing that since ABC became the most common effort to tackle AIDS, AIDS has stopped getting worse and has even gone into retreat. (Most pronounced in Africa, where of course the highest prevelance rates and most intense efforts to resolve it are found.)

As such the Catholic Church’s stance against C does result in more people dying than otherwise would. It denies money to charities and governments who, quite rightly, have decided to do what works best to reduce the prevelance of AIDS.

And to put your idiotic blabber about anal sex and risky sex into context, not only does ABC not promote risky sexual practices (not sure if anal sex with one’s wife is more dangerous than vaginal sex, but ho hum) – it stands for “Abstain, Be faithful, use Condoms”

That is a pretty simple message, it works, and yet the catholic church won’t tolerate it.

You have to wonder why it won’t, and why it thus lets more people die or be orphaned for want of the third letter in the alphabet.

114. margin4error

Of course – I might suggest that the real reason for the Pope’s focus on AB rather than C is based in natural inertia of institutions to move with the times and update themselves according to new evidence.

Others less generous might suggest it is because AIDS is rare in Europe and the USA – and for the most part that’s where the rich white catholics live who tend to support traditional catholic outlooks – and since they pay for the church, to hell with poor black catholics.

“I can’t help point out that for some one who accuses a lot of people of sectarianism for their dislike of an institution and its leadership”

Again, I am reminded of attempts by the BNP to pretend they just object to Muslim doctrine. Nobody is pretending that you must like the Catholic church, but the United Kingdom has a tradition of violent, anti-Catholic bigotry, and anything that calls on that tradition deserves the label “sectarian”.

If the stuff here had been said by a Loyalist or Unionist politician or, for that matter, a Rangers player, nobody would have doubted it was sectarian for a second. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where prejudices expressed in the most obviously bigoted language are classed as acceptable when they come from a middle-class, English liberal.

This has been made worse by some real cultural illiteracy, I genuinely believe Sunny doesn’t know quite what is so objectionable about the original article, but let’s not pretend that defences of William of Orange and Oliver Cromwell, a call to “fuck the Pope”, talk of the Spanish Armada or claims that the Reformation was the promotion of “sensible religion” are simply “dislike of an institution and its leadership”. This is the oratory of the Orange Order, not the langauge of the Liberal Left.

“On AIDS though, lets be clear. ABC works.”

So just to check, you are saying that everyone who doesn’t endorse ABC, which, of course, promotes sexual abstinence above everything, is guilty of killing people?

117. margin4error

Old Andrew

Although again, this impression you give that you think sectarianism is all the fault of protestantism, undermines your argument. What I don’t understand is why you lack a rounded enough view of it to recognise that the catholic church did terrible things.

Especially since the article makes clear its hatred for the church, but also makes clear its hatred for people who hate the irish.

As for the cultural illiteracy – I’m fairly sure that works two ways.

An unwillingness to understand where the tensions came from and the political machinations on both sides of the Protestant/Catholic divide is illiterate. But you’ve displayed as as much of that unwillingness as anyone. Even just accepting that the early modern era was one in which an isolated protestant England faced constant attack from a vast and rich Roman Catholic sphere of influence would be something. But every mention of that just leads to you highlighting some terrible thing about protestantism.

For what it is worth – while I am atheist – I’m also from an Irish catholic background. Well, the part of me that wasn’t from Dutch stock anyway. Coincidentally the Dutch rebelled against catholicism in part because of their domination by Spain, the nation that the Pope demanded return tiny and impoverished England to his rule, but that failed miserably.

So I’m not keen on hatred of the Irish, tend to prefer Celtic to Rangers, and support Ireland at football when they are not playing England or Holland.

@117, again, ta – can’t really add to that, apart from “quite; good work”.

119. margin4error

Oh, and no – obviously I’m not saying that about AIDS. What a silly idea. I’m fairly sure you know that’s know what it means as you can’t possible be that stupid. After all, you seem to comprehend English.

Obviously most people can’t withdraw large sums of aid, provided by well meaning faithful people inspired to try to help the world, from organisations and governments that support the best method of tackling AIDS.

Likewise most people have no sway over the hearts and minds of millions of people.

Some people do. The US President George Bush did withdraw such aid – the dispicable man that he was. The Pope does and refuses to use his influence over people’s hearts and minds and withdraws aid for such organisations – the Dispicable man that he is.

But most people don’t.

Also – remember – cutting aid for organisations that do wide-ranging work doesn’t just hurt those who then suffer AIDS as a result of a lack of funds. It also holds back other medical efforts and water initiatives.

117,

Strangely enough I am not claiming the Catholic Church has never done anything wrong, I just don’t see how, or why, every evil that has ever been committed against Catholics (except where the motive is too overtly racial) is being excused on the grounds that they had it coming by people who claim not to be sectarian.

119,

You think George W. Bush is Catholic?

This is just getting more and more bizarre.

121. margin4error

120 (about 119)

What on earth led you to that conclusion? Do you also think I imagine the Pope to be American?

Nope. Only a fool would imagine I had written such a thing. And I know you are no fool. As such I assume you are just writing that because you are unwilling to say “fair point, you might be right about AIDS and the catholic church actually”.

Bush is just another vile world leader who withdrew vast resources from organisations serving people in desperate need simply because those organisations, often in small parts of their programmes, supported ABC.

So why play dumb when you could just say “fair enough, you’ve got a point there”?

122. margin4error

120 (about 117)

No one is claiming that so far as I can tell, and I’ve just read through a lot of posts to find out.

The original article doesn’t claim that. It claims that the catholic church deserves criticism but that this is not the same as bigotry towards irish catholics.

I myself don’t claimed that. I claim (among other things) that the catholic church created the conditions in which much of the catholic-paranoia of early modern era England arose. (basic history really)

But fundementally I also claim the catholic church deserves criticism. I don’t however think that is the same as bigotry towards irish catholics (or other catholics)

Sunny and Bob B don’t seem to be claiming it either. So whay makes you think people are?

121,

You seemed to forget trying to back up your argument about the Pope and started complaining about Bush instead, hence my confusion.

122,

Sorry, but blaming the Catholic church for “creating the conditions” where Catholics were persecuted, without extending the same bizarre argument to excuse Catholic hostility to Protestants is a blatant double standard.

124. margin4error

oldandrew

123 – I didn’t claim it doesn’t work two ways. all religious institutions do terrible things, and did plenty of them pretty openly in those days.

and on Bush your confusion appears idiotic. All bad people are not catholic y’know.

That said – you seem thus to agree (since you havn’t countered it – and you counter everything it seems you imagine disagreeing with) that the Pope and church are responsible for deaths in that way.

124,

I’m glad you are now acknowledging that some Protestants may have been at fault for more than just some incidental racism. Do I take it that you are now disagreeing with the claim in the original post that the English Reformation was a zeal-free “conversion to sensible religion”? Are you now distancing yourself from the bizarre argument that Protestant rebellions and revolutions were self-defence while attempted Catholic rebellions were treachery?

With regard to the AIDs thing, you are the one who changed the subject rather than answering what I was saying, and couldn’t explain why.

“…anti-Catholicism is primarily about hating the (southern) Irish. And we can all agree that hating the Irish is racism, rather than merely ‘not being an idiot’-ism. Indeed, it’s exactly the same as pretending to hate Muslims when you really hate brown people. ”

OK, but what if I was to hate brown Catholics for their opposition to abortion; black baptists for being anti gay, or white muslims for wanting to stone adulterers?

Am I racist, progressive, or a self hater?

@125: “Are you now distancing yourself from the bizarre argument that Protestant rebellions and revolutions were self-defence while attempted Catholic rebellions were treachery?”

C’mon. This isn’t like football.

What generated popular hostility towards the Catholic Church in England was the public experience of seeing at least 280 Protestant heretics burned at the stake during the reign of Mary Tudor (1553-8), the sailing of the Spanish Armada in 1588 with a Papal Commission to restore Catholicism to England and then the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot of November 1605 which would have inflicted much damage to the historic buildings in and around Parliament Square.

The Catholic monarch James II fled for fear of his life in 1688. Parliament interpreted that as abdication and extended an invitation to William and his wife Mary, who was the daughter of James II, to rule as joint sovereigns in his place. With the Act of Settlement of 1701, that established what was for the time a novel and liberating constitutional principle – legitimate sovereigns of England thereafter ruled with the consent of their subjects, not by divine right, the principle espoused by the Catholic Church.

All that can be presented as rebellion but it was a huge step towards establishing a constitutional monarchy with sovereignty effectively vested in Parliament. At the time, this was indeed revolutionary and duly celebrated as “the Glorious Revolution”.

In 1707, Queen Anne (1702-14), Mary’s sister, was the last sovereign to refuse to sign into law a bill approved by Parliament.

127,

Do you think repeating this ridiculous sectarian version of history makes it any more credible?

It still follows the same double standard of everything Protestants did being self-defence and everything Catholics did (or for that matter failed to do) being aggression.

125

Importantly – what did you ask abour aids that i didn’t answer? I thought I covered everything fairly well with the wholle ABC issue – in that the catholic church blocks funding to organisarions that support c – and in doing so reduces support to people who die as a result.

Do you have a counter pont? ABC covers the piffle you posted about reckless sexual behaviour as ABC includes A and B as well as C, and works because all three in tandem work. (at lest many varied reports seem to suggest so)

also

straw man importantly – I’m from catholic background. what makes you think I don’t hate the many varied protestant churches? Because I point out the evil done by the catholic church? how terribly sectarian and narrow minded of you.

129,

As I recall the discussion on ABC ended because you refused to explain if you condemned those who oppose A as much as those who oppose C, and instead started talking about George Bush.

I don’t care about your background. You may well be a liberal with a blindspot for sectarianism when it is directed at Catholics, rather than somebody who actually believes in the Paisleyite version of history Bob B and John B are putting forward. So what? It doesn’t make sectarian bigotry any more acceptable because some liberals make excuses for it.

Bob B

Don’t overlook the raising of the Cadiz Fleet. That was the moment England so utterly embarrased the invading Spanish and their financier the Pope that the country ceased to be a marginal and insignificant nation, and became a recognised world power for the first time as it became apparent that England rules the seas.

Old Andrew

130

Sadly you never asked me that. You have just preteded that you did to avoid admitting my case.

Had you done I would have made clear, as I hope was clear anyway to any sensible person reading my posts, that I support A, B and C.

Abstenabce, be faithful, and condoms works!

Anyone who doesn’t back the evidence, if they use their widespread influence and vast resources accordingly – is murderous scum.

Again, as a pragmatic and sensible non-sectarian I’m sure you agree. If something works and reduces human suffering you presumaly back it.

Do you agree that actually the catholic church is wrong and killing people over the issues of c?

132,

I asked about this in comment 116.

Really I just wanted to check for certain that you are now claiming that everyone who doesn’t believe in sexual abstinence is “murderous scum”?

Presumably, this isn’t just a standard you apply to people in the developing world or the church?

Oh bless you old andrew – still obfuscating.

But to be clear – rich world or poor – any organisation that can influence behaviour, and/or that can and does cut funding to aid organisations because they support ABC health programmes – does indeed kill people.

And they kill people whether it is the A, the B or the C they object to. (Can’t think of any such organisation that doesn’t support the A or B part of the programme – but maybe there is one somewhere)

I’m sure you agree. After all, it is just common sense backed by facts.

I’m also sure you won’t admit you agree. I can’t for the life of me imagine why.

oldandrew, seriously, why do you keep being dishonest about what margin4error writes?

134,

You don’t appear to have answered the question. Is any person (organisation is a red herring here) who doesn’t encourage sexual abstinence, even in the developed world, “murderous scum”?

135,

Given that Margin4error has long since ceased to talk about anything to do with the original post, I have no need to “be dishonest” about what he writes. The only reason I am still engaging with him is becuase I am curious to see if he really does think that failure to encourage sexual abstinence is murder.

I have no need to “be dishonest” about what he writes

Then why do it?

137,

Sorry, is this really what passes for argument or debate to you?

I ask him to be clear about the implications of what he’s saying and you call it “dishonest”. Presumably, allowing him to repeat his rhetoric unchallenged would be “honest”?

139. Squiddly Diddly

Oooooooh look: more hot air from people who obviously know very little about Cromwell, Ireland, England, Scotland or the Seventeenth Century.

oldandrew, maybe it’s just that you can’t read properly.

Engaging with what people write, rather than what you imagine them to write, is conducive to reasonable debate.

And criticism of something does not entail tacit approval of another thing.

“Oooooooh look: more hot air from people who obviously know very little about Cromwell, Ireland, England, Scotland or the Seventeenth Century.”

If so, set out what you regard as the correct version then or post the relevant links.

“Engaging with what people write, rather than what you imagine them to write, is conducive to reasonable debate.”

I am engaging with what he wrote, I’m just giving him a chance to clarify whether he really meant the most obviously controversial part of it. Strangely enough, I would have thought that would be the “honest” way to do things.

Do you think it would be more honest to ignore this, and just nod to the part of his argument that condemns Catholics, but overlook the bit which condemns anybody who doesn’t advocate sexual abstinence?

Which is where the problem lies. If you’re not from those parts of the UK, Catholics are simply crazy posh Evelyn Waugh types, who’ve decided that pointless treachery would be better than just admitting that an evil foreign overlord wasn’t really worth following.

This may have been true in the reign of the first Elizabeth, but it is simply batshit crazy to claim that 21st Century Catholics who are not immigrants from Ireland (or, presumably, Poland et. al.) are engaged in ‘pointless treachery’. Whatever the defects of the current Pope, he doesn’t hold that the rightwise Queen of England should be murdered and that the King of Spain should put the realm to fire and the sword. I really don’t think that it’s sensible to post on the subject of: ‘Anti-Catholic bigotry is a red herring when discussing criticism of the Catholic Church’ whilst claiming that Catholics of English origin are engaged in treachery, pointless or otherwise. Catholics might be wrong (as it happens I think they are) but they aren’t traitors, FFS.

old andrew

Ok – you’ve asked me this a couple of times now and I’ve answered a couple of times now. So I’ll try to be utterly clear – and then I’ll ask you a simple question.

So…

At one stage I thought you asked whether every individual who opposes one of abstenance, being fafthful or using condoms was murderous.

I answered quite clearly that that was a little absurd since only those who have infuence and who direct aid budgets against ABC programmes “result in more people dying than otherwise would have.” You’re average Joe who opposes ABC has no aid budget and influence and so his opinion does not “result in more people dying than otherwise would have.”

(btw – that quote I keep using was your criteria for whether the Pope’s opposition to ABC was murderous – not mine – but it is a very sound criteria and as I’m sure you’ll agree it also makes the Pope murderous)


You then seemed to ask (claiming I hadn’t answered at all) something else.

You seemed to ask whether some one who opposed ABC because they opposed A (abstenance) was as murderous as if they opposed ABC because of C.

I answered that by pointing out the obvious. Yes. ABC works. Reducing it for any reason is murderous.

Now you seem to be asking again whether every individual is encompassed, which of course I’ve answered (again in this post) and which of course is ridiculous.

You also seem to be asking whether the logic holds true in wealthy countries – and I actually answered that way way back. Obviously it does. We don’t rely on aid bodies running ABC programmes. So it is a little different. But go to a Gum clinic at your local hospital and the doctor will point out that promiscuity raises the risk of catching all STDs and that condoms mitigate that risk. (I used to assume all people go to GUM clinics when they start a new

Now I would say I think I’ve covered everything but I suspect you are about to ask something different again. so I’ll move on to my question.

Old Andrew

You posted earlier

“refusal to support the same AIDs prevention strategies as you, cannot be described as “killing people” unless it results in more people dying than otherwise would have.”

agreed.

The Pope oppses ABC

The Pope halts aid for groups and governments that use ABC

That results in less ABC

That means more people get AIDS and die.

The Pope also discourages hundreds of millions of people from taking part in ABC programmes or abiding by its lessons.

Many of those people take his word to be sanctified by god and so abide by his word.

That means more people get AIDS and die.

So the Pope is murderous.

agreed?

ukliberty

I shouldn’t worry about Old Andrew’s slightly odd questions and arguments. I am growing to fear it has reached a stage where rather than acknowledge sensible criticism of the catholic church, he would rather try to find some terrible bias in me so that he doesn’t have to and thus claim some sort of victory.

Unfortunately I’m genuinely a pragmatist. I commend the Catholic church for the good things it does. It inspires millions of catholics to give to charity and run schools in the third world and so on. Which is great. It just doesn’t negate my criticising it for killing people and allowing the unpunished rape of young children.

Likewise – I genuinely mean it when I say ABC works because of all three parts – as opposed to saying only as a defence of promoting condom use. The fact is programmes that only focus on contraceptive devices failed as misserably as programmes that only focus on reducing promiscuity.

It would also be nice if the catholic church was honest about that – and said “yes ABC works, but we won’t support it because we would rather people die young and create orphans than arrive at the gates of heaven tarnished by the sin of using contraception.”

Instead it frabricated a lot of studies to suggest ABC didn’t work – which have long since been discredited. But that in itself held back progress and killed even more people.

“I answered quite clearly that that was a little absurd since only those who have infuence and who direct aid budgets against ABC programmes”

You changed the subject from the teaching of the Catholic church to George Bush’s AIDs programmes. That hardly made things clear at all, in fact it seemed like an utter change of subject. It is only now becoming clear what you were up to. You unilaterally decided that we were no longer talking about the effect the Catholic church has on the spread of AIDs, but whether the international aid it supports is the best sort of international aid according to you.

Do you understand that it’s not a terribly good argument to refer to “providing aid that I don’t think is effective enough” as “murder”? Even if you think Catholic church could do more to help stop AIDs, it is also the case that it could do considerably less. It seems more than a little bizarre to call people “murderers” for doing their good works less effectively than you’d like, as even the most ineffective good Samaritan is likely to be morally better than no good Samaritan at all. It also suggests you must be some kind of living saint yourself if you feel you can set the standards for other people’s good works. (The whole argument is even more bizarre if you’ve ever met anybody who has worked in the developing world, and heard how effective the different aid organisations, Catholic church included, are on the ground.)

Apologies for not capitalising the last “S” of AIDS. Carelessness due to talking about aid and AIDS at the same time.

149. Flowerpower

145Margin4 error

Sorry, I don’t have the link to hand, but I read a pretty convincing and detailed paper some time ago that showed that Catholic countries (which followed the Pope’s recommendations broadly) had LOWER rather than HIGHER HIV infection rates than neighbouring or equivalent countries that were non-Catholic – both in Africa and Asia.

You have assumed that more die where condoms are not plentiful, but it appears the opposite is true.

150. margin4error

Flowerpower

There are not many such countries.

In asia there are far bigger problems than catholicism – notably muslim clerics who decry AIDS as a homosexual and western disease – and dictatorships that base national pride on lying internally about AIDS.

Likewise Africa suffers similar alternative causes – like the use of AIDS as a weapon of war, and again the difficulty in making dictatorships admit and deal with the problem at all.

The Pope’s stance kills lots of people. But I never said no one else’s stance killed people too.

151. margin4error

147

Is your bias so full of pride that you now have to lie to present yourself as some sort of winner of a discussion with no winners? (And there will be no winners until the Pope changes the church’s stance)

All this time I’ve pointed out the pope kills people two ways. One because of his stance holding influence over millions of people. The other because his stance leads him to withdraw funding from nations and aid groups who adopt ABC.

Indeed I repeated this in 145

So why do you pretend that was a change in stance?

Also – do you not also agree that since his actions “result in more people dying” he is murderous?

151,

I am glad you now admit to using two different arguments.

Just to remind you, the first argument (that the Pope’s influence kills people) could only be true if devout Catholics who follow his teaching were more likely to die of AIDS than non-Catholics. This is not the case.

The second argument, that, by not funding the people you want him to fund, he kills people, is obvious nonsense on the grounds that anyone in the world could be criticised for not giving money to causes you support. Doing good things, but not as effectively as you’d like, is not “killing people” by any normal definition of the phrase.

Both of your arguments are incredibly weak, which is presumably why getting you to state them clearly has been like extracting teeth.

Old Andrew

Why would I deny using two different arguments? I mean technically they are explanations rather than arguments. They are simply the two ways in which the Pope’s position leads to more people dying. The argument is that, because he can change that but chooses not to, he is mrderous.

anyway

Your first assertion is wrong, and you know it is because you said so earlier.

You are smart enough to understand statistics to the extent that you yourself said that the Pope was murderous if his actions or influence “result in more people dying than otherwise would have” (You are smart enough therefore to know it is not “if more catholics get AIDS than muslims, atheists, etc)

So don’t pretend to be an idiot now? As much as anything else it is simply too late as you’ve already displayed better intelligence than that.

Your second assertion is also wrong.

Frankly if handing out candy worked best I’d back that. Likewise if licking a dogs bum worked best I’d back that. The fact is that ABC works best. Study after study has shown that where an ABC programme is set up, AIDS rates stop rising faster, and start falling sooner, than any other such programmes.

So it isn’t my preference. It is just doing what works. It is his preference to not do what works, and to hinder what works, and to therefore kill people.

Now note this – I’m also perfectly clear that the reason the Pope does that is that he thinks condoms are sinful and lead to eternal torment. So if he wants to be honest and say that he would rather lots of people die young and leave orphans than those same people risk eternal torment – then that would be refreshingly honest.

Unfortunately the Church spent the 90s fabricating reports suggesting that ABC didn’t work and that alternatives did. That in turn led to many government and even some aid organisations facing uncertainty and so not using the system that works best – which in turn also killed many people, lots of whom were not catholic at all. (South Africa has high rates as a legacy of apharteid, and it was also a country where such fabricated evidence unfortunately led government health policies for quite some time before the evidence became overwhelming and the fabrications fell apart.)

Also – yet again

do you agree that if some one acts in a way that leads to more people dying than otherwise would (your terminoligy) they are murderous – and that as such if that some one is the pope – he is murderous.

I’ve asked lots of times.

Margin4error,

If you are arguing that anyone who fails to do the maximum possible amount to save lives in the developing world (a category of people that would no doubt include you, me and everyone we’ve ever met) is “murderous” then of course I don’t accept it.

I can imagine a preacher might use this kind of thing rhetorically to establish that all human beings are morally depraved, but as part of a political argument it is obviously ridiculous. As a political argument to condemn an organisation that does a huge amount to help the developing world it is more than ridiculous, it is pathetic. No matter how you rephrase it, or which particular actions you identify as most imperfect, it really can’t be taken seriously.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Left Outside

    The Pope != The Irish | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/PUmB5ps via @libcon

  2. John Band

    @sunny_hundal is an excellent editor. My piece on hating the Catholics vs hating the Pope is bloody well edited: http://bit.ly/cL7Yau

  3. sunny hundal

    RT @johnb78: @sunny_hundal is an excellent editor. My piece on hating the Catholics vs hating the Pope is bloody well edited: http://bit.ly/cL7Yau

  4. Chris Paul

    RT @johnb78: @sunny_hundal is an excellent editor. My piece on hating the Catholics vs hating the Pope is bloody well edited: http://bit.ly/cL7Yau

  5. Sebastien L

    Really interesting viewpoint worth spreading IMHO

    http://bit.ly/cFoiFj

  6. A pleb writes « Whoever it was that brought me here

    […] weekend, one of Britain’s leading supposedly left-wing blogs carried the following astonishing claim about the social composition of British Catholics: And as a […]

  7. Kevin Dykes

    The Pope is not the same as The Irish | Liberal Conspiracy http://goo.gl/xJIo

  8. Padraig Reidy

    @sunny_hundal @splintersunrise here http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/08/22/the-pope-the-irish/

  9. Andrew Old

    @dennissewell @Michael_Merrick Me too. Ever read this and the discussion after it? http://t.co/4N4pz8wt





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