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Christians can protest the Pope’s visit too


2:32 pm - September 16th 2010

by Paul Sagar    


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From the age of 11-16, I attended a Catholic state secondary school in Merseyside. During that period I realised two things: that I didn’t believe in God, and that even if I did Catholicism would be a bad vehicle of worship.

My contempt for Catholic teaching in particular crystallised in compulsory Religious Education class, around three experiences. The first is of a teacher telling my class that contraception was a sin, the rhythm method wholly reliable, and that any girl who had an abortion would definitely go to hell.

The second was the same teacher remarking that if people only had sex within marriage then “aids wouldn’t be a problem.” And then replying to my complaint that this was hardly appropriate insight regarding (say) non-Christians in Africa, that this was simply “their problem”.

The third was a different teacher telling my class that “condoms don’t work” because the AIDs virus is “smaller than the micro-holes in a condom membrane”.

But I also received a piece of genuine wisdom from a more reflective – if still very much Catholic – teacher at the school. I can’t remember what I was whining about in an attempt to disrupt the lesson, but the teacher in question stared me down and said: “Paul, you need to realise that belief in God, and the Catholic Church, are two different things”.

And she was completely right. Whilst I have many reservations about Christianity, believing in Christ as Saviour is a very different thing to following the dogmas and dictates of an institution like the Catholic Church. Because that’s what it is: an institution. And as an institution, it is capable of doing fucked up things, and drawing its members into webs of horror.

As it happens, I’m temporarily back in Merseyside this month. And it’s disappointing – though perhaps not surprising – to find Patrick Kelly, Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, defending Pope Benedict and blaming systematic paedophile abuse on anybody but the Church:

Archbishop Patrick Kelly told the BBC that the work of other organisations dealing with children should be examined.

He said that most child abuse “occurs within families”.

Archbishop Kelly said: “It’s also worth asking similar groups who worked with young people what were they doing in those same years?

“Other groups were working with young people and we’ve found that the question of child abuse, above all, occurs within families – You know that as a fact.

“According to what others were doing at the same time, I’m afraid we were so ignorant we did not know about the addictive nature [of paedophiles].”

The Archbishop said: “Nobody has been so rigorous in dealing with that terrible issue as [Pope Benedict] has. He has insisted that procedures are in place.

Given that Benedict XVI stands at the heart of a global cover up of decades-long sex abuse, and the continuing protection of abusive priests – in a week when a major paedophile scandal within the Belgian church has been hitting the headlines – Kelly’s lack of remorse speaks for itself.

So I’d like to take this day, when the Pontiff visits our aggressively atheist shores, to remind Catholics that belief in Christ is not the same as the institution of the Catholic Church. If you, as a good Christian, are disgusted by discrimination against women, denial of gay rights, paedophile-enablement and protection, and millions of avoidable deaths – there is a choice.

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About the author
Paul Sagar is a post-graduate student at the University of London and blogs at Bad Conscience.
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Reader comments


1. Missing The Pontiff

I’m a Catholic, and I will be joining the 80,000 or so other Catholics who are going to Hyde Park to celebrate the positives in our faith, and pray for a solution to the negatives.

@1 – Just cut straight to the chase and pray that catholic priests stop sodomising young boys and pray that the catholic church stops trying to cover their tracks.

Missing the Pontiff,

I’m not sure prayer alone is entirely sufficient in such grave and far-reaching matters as systematic global child sex abuse…

Of course, Christians will be objecting to the Pope too.

Iain Paisley springs to mind.

I’m curious as to what Missing thinks the positives and negatives in his faith are. Presumably some of the Church’s charity work is positive and some of its handling of sex abuse cases is negative, but what about more controversial matters – contraception, homosexuality, abortion, AIDS prevention etc.? Will Missing be praying that the Church stops opposing the use of condoms by people at risk of AIDS, for instance, or just that people at risk of AIDS listen harder to the Church and stop having sex?

Sagar,

Presumably, praying for a solution to the negative parts of the Roman Catholic Church does not entail that one can’t do other, non-spiritual things (writing letters, for example). Though I imagine you share my scepticism about the Church’s responsiveness to bottom-up pressure.

Missing the Pontiff,

Good for you, have fun in Hyde Park!

G.O.,

What the hell? Missing the Pontiff doesn’t have to justify him or herself to you and provide a full statement of the theology (s)he adheres to. This ain’t the Inquisition. (as for my own view, I’m no longer a Christian and I was never a Catholic, but the Church’s view on contraception, homosexuality, HIV/AIDS prevention [and other issues] are in my view mistaken, dangerous and sometimes vile views that will hopefully change over time)

7. Missing The Pontiff

My view of the Church’s teachings is that they are analogous to speed limits.

The government sets speed limits according to its view of what is most likely keep motorists and pedestrians safe from harm. People then adhere to or break speed limits and accept the consequences.

The church sets out its teachings in the way it believes will keep humans safe from spiritual harm. People then adhere to those teachings or not as they choose, and accept the consequences.

8. James from Durham

The archbishop’s comments are not wholly vacuous. In the 1970s, similar practices that the RC church has been accused of (shuffling guilty priests off to other parishes) went on in the UK educational system. I have said previously that there is undoubtedly a story to be told regarding children and the communist party in the soviet bloc countries. However, I think the RC church took longer than anyone else to catch up with more modern child-protection measures. They have also remained in denial about the problem longer than others. The other problem is, of course that the RC church has been more keen than anyone else to condemn others sexual crimes/ misdemeanours/ aberrations/ whatever. Jesus himself said “judge not lest ye be judged” and the RC church is being judged now! I suspect prayer will not help the RC church and maybe the prayers should be for the unfortunate victims.

Paul, only someone brought up in the RC church would find it a revelation that The Church and their particular branch were not coterminous!

9. Missing The Pontiff

Thanks Peter H.

There are plenty of Catholics who don’t take everything their church says entirely seriously. You only have to witness the low birth rates in seemingly Catholic countries such as Italy, and even Ireland to judge by the number of Irish women who manage to have just two children (and the numbers who sadly have to come to Britain for an abortion).

And I know a more than a few Catholics who wish the church would concentrate on national/international issues such as world peace, disarmament, poverty, climate change, equality, etc. To be fair, the Catholic church is quite good on most of these things, even if some parts of the church come to a different conclusion about the solutions to some of these problems. Nevertheless, a big group of the faithful would be more than happy if the church concentrated far less on the personal issues of sex and focussed on the things that really make a difference to people lives. I know some who feel his holiness’s visit is an irrelevance.

“And I know a more than a few Catholics who wish the church would concentrate on national/international issues such as world peace, disarmament, poverty, climate change, equality, etc.”

They will, no doubt, in time. 100 years or so seems to be the pace they work at.

12. Gaf the Horse

Where are all these aggressive secularists and aggressive atheists we keep getting told about? As an atheist myself with plenty of atheist / agnostic / associated unbeliever friends (and plenty of religious ones as well) I’ve not met one yet. In fact the only aggressive person, with regard to religion or lack of it, I’ve ever actually met was a Christian parent at my son’s school who, (and I’m really not making this up), demanded that the school stop doing any subjects around Halloween because it was teaching the kids about witchcraft and that was sinful. I know that sounds like it’s made up, and I wish it was, but it isn’t.
Most atheists I know tend not to force their views on anyone.

Gaf the Horse,

I don’t know how prevalent “aggressive atheists” are, but they certainly exist (obviously, aggressive religious people exist too). You know the sort, the kind of person who will publically sneer at religious people who are minding their own business, and just generally be cocks about it.

Of course, this doesn’t stop the Pope’s comments on secularism being almost entirely complete guff.

Gaf,

Witchcraft is sinful, according to the Bible (but then selling your daughter into slavery is allowable in another part of that book…). Although someone should possibly point out to said nutter that Halloween is a Christian festival!

Anyway, there are nutters of all types, and fortunately they are rare. The problem is that here the nutters of the atheist type are setting themselves against the normal, nice type of Catholic and attacking their beliefs in what appears to me to be a rather persecutive way (some Catholics should appreciate this if the tradition of marytrdom is still active…), rather than just registering their distate in a restrained way, or trying to convert people from Catholicism.

In effect (and I doubt many are doing this deliberately) it is an attempt to assert the supremacy of their secular beliefs over the Catholicism of their ‘foes’.

Peter H

“G.O.,

What the hell? Missing the Pontiff doesn’t have to justify him or herself to you and provide a full statement of the theology (s)he adheres to.”

Woah Nelly! I never asked MtP to justify himself, or provide a full statement of his theology; I just expressed my curiosity as to what he meant when he talked about the ‘positives’ and ‘negatives’ of his faith. (Obviously different Catholics have different views on whether the Church’s stance on condoms, say, is a positive or a negative thing.) Asking someone to clarify their position isn’t an unreasonable thing to do on a comment board, surely?

16. Another Paul

When I was 7 years old a teacher in my catholic school told to the class that evil is red, with horns and something like a fork in his hand. And he was absolutely sure about the idea. “A material fact”.

Such a stupid “lesson” shows to me that my teacher was…an stupid. But it shows too that I would be much more stupid than him thinking on Mother Teresa as an stupid believing in a red evil.

So I’m still catholic.

May be because one day, only an example, I saw in TV an “agnostic militant” (as he said) saying that we should violate nuns and then ask them what they think about abortion…. reason enough, into my stupid brain, to advise to any “agnostic militant” to take advantage of such a definitive argument and become a good “agnostic of agnosticism”. It is a good opportunity. You have a choice.

G.O.

If you are curious about that, I would recommend leaving your question at the first line, rather than then listing a long line of accusatory topics that are recognisable as the normal sticks with which to beat the Catholic church. It did read rather as an aggresively leading question.

I like this article. As an atheist with a religious family spanning from Methodist to Catholicism it’s important, I think, to point out that not all Christians – hell not all Catholics – approve of Pope Benny and his ill-informed opinions.

19. Chris Baldwin

Oh God! Just let it be over so we can stop hearing about how dreadful the Church is every day and night! You know, I think that all the outrage has made me a bit more sympathetic to Benedict XVI.

The Catholic church is an extreme fundamentalist organisation preaching a flawed credo that puts adherence to a superstition and itself ahead of the well-being of its acolytes.

In terms of the secular scientific consensus in which most of us function it is avaricious, conservative and illiberal. It’s legacy is misery and constraint and the Pope and his teachings represent a real threat to progress in our world.

The above would be more evident if we were not so obviously and immediately under greater threat from another bunch of religious drones who claim to take their instructions from a book allegedly spouted by a more malevolent sky pixie.

Years ago we had the same suspicion of the Catholic Church that we now have for Muslims. We thought that they could never be loyal to this nation as long as they took their orders from Rome. Over the centuries Catholics have been more accepted and the threat of Rome has gone. Or has it?

The Catholic Church in the last decade has increasingly been telling voters both here and the US how to vote. In the US the Vatican has told senior clergy not to give mass to Democrats who support abortion. Interestingly it does not apply to those Republicans who support the death penalty, even though that is against Catholic teaching. The head of the Catholic Church in the UK said 2 years ago that he would like to see more religion in politics here. (that means greater interference from the church in our affairs. on so called moral issues.)

I view the Catholic Church as an evil institution, and not to be trusted , and we should be very suspicious of it’s intentions.

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I am heartily sick of articles like this. The Church is a wicked institution – yep we get it! All Catholics are exactly the same as the pope. A billion clones. Thanks.

How about some facts? Good and bad and otherwise.

So I’d like to take this day, when the Pontiff visits our aggressively atheist shores, to remind Catholics that belief in Christ is not the same as the institution of the Catholic Church. If you, as a good Christian, are disgusted by discrimination against women, denial of gay rights, paedophile-enablement and protection, and millions of avoidable deaths – there is a choice.

Fuck off you patronising twat!

The Catholic church is an extreme fundamentalist organisation preaching a flawed credo that puts adherence to a superstition and itself ahead of the well-being of its acolytes.

No. The Catholic church is a billion people. A billion individuals.

Criticise the Vatican as much as you can, with FACTS, but this is intolerable.

Watchman –

But it’s the controversial topics – the ones where the Catholic Church is most at odds with the liberal values shared by many of its own members – that I’m curious about!

As for these topics being ‘the normal sticks with which to beat the Catholic church’ – one might as well say the Iraq War is the normal stick with which to beat Tony Blair, or public service cuts are the normal stick with which to beat the Coalition. There’s a reason why people single these things out for criticism.

If those are all the available arguments I anticipate a clear, safe and long future to the RC church.

Give the matter no further thought, I’ve just come from several countries and, believe me, catholics are not so interested in the protestant thinkings about them.

“As for these topics being ‘the normal sticks with which to beat the Catholic church’ – one might as well say the Iraq War is the normal stick with which to beat Tony Blair, or public service cuts are the normal stick with which to beat the Coalition. There’s a reason why people single these things out for criticism.”

It’s kind of hard to miss the fact that some of these sticks would be pretty good for beating Muslims, and quite a few Jews too. Yet somehow Liberal Conspiracy only seems to bother taking its cudgels to the Catholics at every opportunity. If other religions get condemned it’s usually in the abstract, while personal attacks on Catholics are frequent and ferocious here.

Oldandrew –

“It’s kind of hard to miss the fact that some of these sticks would be pretty good for beating Muslims, and quite a few Jews too. Yet somehow Liberal Conspiracy only seems to bother taking its cudgels to the Catholics at every opportunity. If other religions get condemned it’s usually in the abstract, while personal attacks on Catholics are frequent and ferocious here.”

There’s a world of difference between criticising the doctrines, policies and actions of the Catholic Church as an institution, and engaging in personal attacks on Catholics.

As for why the Catholic Church attracts more criticism than ‘the Muslims’ and ‘the Jews’ – ‘the Muslims’ and ‘the Jews’ aren’t institutions like the Catholic Church, they’re just groups of people with their own opinions, priorities etc. There’s no argument about who speaks and acts on behalf of the Church – not so for ‘the Muslims’ and ‘the Jews’.

28. Chaise Guevara

“If other religions get condemned it’s usually in the abstract, while personal attacks on Catholics are frequent and ferocious here.”

What personal attacks are you talking about, exactly? The above comments seem to criticise either the Vatican or Catholicism in general – in the abstract, as you put it. The only guy coming in for criticism is the Pope, based on his own actions.

29. Chaise Guevara

@23

“No. The Catholic church is a billion people. A billion individuals.

Criticise the Vatican as much as you can, with FACTS, but this is intolerable.”

Think you might be over-egging the pudding there. Britain is a nation comprising some 70 million souls, but were someone to say “I condemn Britain for its foreign policy”, I wouldn’t make the assumption that they wanted to condemn every individual with a British passport, including myself.

Similarly, I have been known to make the distinction between criticising the Catholics and criticising the Church, and I’ve heard many others do the same. I think most people who say they criticise the Church do so with the exact motive of wanting to make it clear that they mean the institution or the leadership. The semantic debate isn’t worth getting emotional about.

@29 – I agree. After the amount of stupid I’ve seen today (which doesn’t follow your distinction) my comment was mild. I don’t need to be told what the OP is saying to me and I doubt if any other LibCon readers do either.

“Paul, you need to realise that belief in God, and the Catholic Church, are two different things”

Couldn’t be clearer than that…

“There’s a world of difference between criticising the doctrines, policies and
actions of the Catholic Church as an institution, and engaging in personal
attacks on Catholics.”

Yeah, a personal attack on Catholics would be saying something like:

“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”

Which would never appear on this website would it?

In case you hadn’t noticed the post you are replying to starts with a series of anecdotes about the evils of anonymous Catholics. That’s no more an attack on the institution of the Church than a series of stories about evil Jews would be a critique of the office of the Chief Rabbi.

You can make all the excuses you like, but the double standard on here is obvious. One of the contributers summed up the attitude clearly by referring to “Catholicism” as a “pejorative description” of “Tory guilt”.

33. Roger Mexico

Earwicga is simply wrong: the Roman Catholic Church is the Vatican; is the hierarchy; is, in the end, the Pope. Those billion people may belong to the Church, but they have no control over it or its personnel or its doctrines. They may dislike or disagree with what it says and does but they have no power to change it.

Of course they may ignore its teachings, disbelieve in its dogmas, make their own decisions as how to live. But in so far as they do so they are bad Catholics and alienated from the Church. Catholics who make up their own minds in the way are basically protestants – that to some extent was what the Reformation, particularly in its later stages, was about.

The Church tends to try not to make too much of a fuss about this for obvious reasons. Very few of those who call themselves Catholic in Britain actually believe in current Catholic practice as advocated by Vatican. YouGov did a poll at the beginning of the month:

http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/YG-Archives-Pol-YouGovITV-PapalVisit-020910.pdf

This showed that:

Only 4% believed artificial contraception is wrong, and shouldn’t be used. Indeed 71% said it should be used more often.

Only 6% Thought that if a woman who is less than 20 weeks pregnant, and wishes to have an abortion, should never be allowed an abortion. 30% wanted abortion on demand, the remainder only under some circumstances.

Only 11% felt that Homosexual acts are morally wrong. Alternatively 41% said Good for them: we should celebrate loving relationships, whether gay or straight

So these basic, constantly reiterated Catholic teachings were only supported by a tiny minority of the pope’s followers. Furthermore, 65% said priests should be allowed to marry and, cruelest of all, only a bare majority, 47% v 44%, thought paying for the papal visit was an appropriate use of taxpayers money.

Little is said though because, while the current Pope has been throwing his weight round a bit more than his predecessor (see Sally’s comment above), he knows that, if he really cracked down on this scepticism about most of his teachings on morality, his churches and his coffers would be even emptier.

How about some facts?

Ok – here’s two historical ones:

1) The Catholic hierarchy were at best ambivalent towards Nazism.

2) Britain was not.

Opinion: it would have been nice if Ratzinger showed a greater appreciation of this while he is a guest here. Instead we get these appalling comments about ‘aggressive secularism’ and Nazism. Shame on anyone who defends this.

The first two paragraphs @33 are just not true.

36. Just Visiting

G.O, 27

>As for why the Catholic Church attracts more criticism than ‘the Muslims’ and ‘the Jews’ – ‘the Muslims’ and ‘the Jews’ aren’t institutions like the Catholic Church, they’re just groups of people with their own opinions, priorities etc. There’s no argument about who speaks and acts on behalf of the Church – not so for ‘the Muslims’ and ‘the Jews’.

I don’t understand that argument at all.
Are you serously saying that Islam does not have people who ‘speak on behalf’ of it?
Are you saying there are not respected clerics and leaders for Sunni Muslims, and for Shi-ite Muslims?

Are you saying that the death penalty for adultery – and for apostasy – is not advocated by the senior theologians and Imams from both Sunni and Shia sides?

I’m sorry – but the evidence of LC is there under your browser, that :LC does have an obvious bias – Christianity is criticised with monotonous regularity – but all other religions are not questioned.

Just 1 example – the nutter Pastor Jones gets a thread here – just for the possibility he may burn some books: whereas the Islam Fort Hood shooter who killed 13 – silence on LC

Until we see threads on LC that are focused on asking tough questions about Islam and Hinduism and the rest – LC remains a forum with a visible bias against christianity.

Surprisingly Sunny always says that he thinks all religions are equally bad…but he too seems to reserve 99% of his criticism for Christianity.

If anyone disagrees that’s fine – but please make your case by referring back to the evidence of past LC forums – quote some evidence and facts please.

>I’m a Catholic, and I will be joining the 80,000 or so other Catholics who are going to Hyde Park to celebrate the positives in our faith, and pray for a solution to the negatives.

Same here.

“1) The Catholic hierarchy were at best ambivalent towards Nazism.”

Arse.

“Catholics who make up their own minds in the way are basically protestants – that to some extent was what the Reformation, particularly in its later stages, was about.”

I don’t want to get kicked off of here for just responding to people with the word “arse” all the time, but..

…arse.

I mean, seriously. Your claim is too bizarre for me to even argue against it. How can you possibly think it true?

Earwicga, I’m sorry, but, while you may wish it was different and while many Catholics may also feel that way, my first two paragraphs @33 are true.

The primacy of the the Bishop of Rome, the claim to a direct line from St Peter, is what makes the Roman Catholic Church, Roman. There is 1700 years or so of history (or if, you prefer, bad behaviour) to prove it. You and many others may feel that the Church is really the sum of its members and that the message of the Gospels speaks directly to and should guide those members. But that makes you protestants not Roman Catholics. In the end you can’t be a member of that particular club and not follow the rules. And in this club the chairman picks all the committee and always has the last word.

40,

I don’t know what I find most offensive, the idea that Catholics don’t think for themselves, or the idea that if they did they’d be Protestants (or perhaps it should be the bizarre way you appear to have lost almost 300 years of church history in there somewhere).

Protestantism is hardly without dogma (it is on this score that your earlier comments about the Reformation just staggered me). Catholicism is hardly without freedom of conscience, or internal diversity. It may be hard for you to accept that individuals can be inspired by an institituion or a spiritual and intellectual tradition rather than only the Gospels but this says more about you than about the church. Do you really see St Francis of Assisi or John Henry Newman, say, as passive and unthinking? Do you really see John Calvin as a prophet of religious pluralism?

…arse

So good to see that the subtle arts of the Jesuits have not yet died in Catholic apologism.

I shall leave it to others to discuss the comedy potential of the British being lectured on not being sufficiently anti-Nazi by a former member of the Hitler Youth. However the simple point remains – Roman Catholicism is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship. In so far as you disagree with the line from the top, you are not a faithful member of that Church. You can’t be a cafeteria Catholic; it’s a set meal and you must eat up everything on your plate.

Of course many in the past have disagreed with some part or other of current doctrine. They have felt that the Church has forsaken the message of the Gospels, betrayed its people or abandoned its traditions. When it has had the power to do so, the Roman Catholic Church has taken action against them. Others have left en masse to form Christian Churches with somewhat different beliefs and some of these have survived when Rome was unable to crush them.

I used the word protestant (lower case) to describe those people who dared to put their own, argued interpretation of Christianity against the diktat of the Vatican. In the early Reformation most wished to remain within the Church, but were unable, indeed not allowed, to do so. Those who disagree today are in essentially the same position, but thankfully the reduced temporal power of the Church means that they can keep their consciences and their lives. Though possibly not their club membership.

Old Andrew, although I’m an atheist, I’ve quite often read your complaints here about anti-Catholicism with some measure of sympathy. Because although I’m as critical of the Church as anyone, I also think that respectful dialogue is altogether preferable to a shouting match and hatefest.

However, I’ve just come here from reading the Pope’s clumsy and cretinous equation of atheism with Nazism earlier today.

And I note that this is a) far more offensive and unjustified than any anti-Catholic sentiment ever to appear on this website, and b) comes from the head of the Church, rather than some little-known angry blogger.

So unless you’d like to defend or disown his revolting remarks, I shall consider your moaning on this topic as special pleading, and filing it in the dustbin for the foreseeable future.

44. Chaise Guevara

@ Larry

Jesus. Thanks for the heads-up and for destroying what was left in my faith in humanity. I just took a look at the story.

POPE: “As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century…”

Jesus wept. May I be the first to point out that Stalin and Hitler (the atheists being referred to by the Pope in his cunning strategm) both also had moustaches, and that Nazism and Stalinism were just as likely to have been moustache extremists?

@ Larry & Chaise – don’t let it distract you from what should be the main argument against this pope – the cover up of child abuse which continues all over the world.

@ Roger – arse.

@ oldandrew – there was a really good FT article last week about Newman, Benedict and freedom of conscience. Did you see it? Also, can I ask if you defend this pope?

47. Chaise Guevara

“@ Larry & Chaise – don’t let it distract you from what should be the main argument against this pope – the cover up of child abuse which continues all over the world.”

Yes, agreed, although my main concern about recent popes in general has a lot more to do with a) Africa and B) encouraging general antipathy between human beings.

“I shall leave it to others to discuss the comedy potential of the British being lectured on not being sufficiently anti-Nazi by a former member of the Hitler Youth.”

Yeah, these elderly Germans, what do they know about Nazism?

“However the simple point remains – Roman Catholicism is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship.”

All churches are dictatorships in that sense. You can’t convert to Islam and still join in. The ridiculous idea that you are putting forward is that to disagree on any point is to be a Protestant. Protestantism was a movement where the authority of the Church over doctrine was replaced with the authority of the state. The Reformation in this country was an era where the instititutions of civil society were abolished or taken over by the state, and customs established in society were replaced with the arbitrary rule of the King. In the last century we came to call regimes of this type “totalitarian” which is why it is pretty hard not to just say “arse” at the suggestion it was all about thinking for yourself.

“So unless you’d like to defend or disown his revolting remarks, I shall consider your moaning on this topic as special pleading, and filing it in the dustbin for the foreseeable future.”

I will condemn the Pope for criticising atheist extremism when it is equally accepted that all atheists have no right to criticise religious extremism.

Or is this another double standard here?

What, “atheist extremists” like Adolf Hitler and, erm, unnamed people hinted to be numerous in modern Britain?

Ok then, you can criticise them, as long as I can criticise religious maniacs like Osama Bin Laden, Tomás de Torquemada, and uh, anyone else I decide to stamp with the same label. Old Andrew perhaps, why not.

Funny how “atheist extremists” are fair game for ol’ Benny but he’s silent about the “Christian extremists” who have decimated Iraq, the “Muslim extremists” who have committed acts of terror the world over, the “Hindu extremists” who are antipathetical towards peace in India, the “Jewish extremists” who are defying international law by continuing to build on Arab land, oh and “Catholic extremists” who preach against condom use in AIDS-hit countries and cover up the crimes of the most despicable kind.

Just sayin’.

Religion its all nothing more than ” a belie f” and a crazy one at that there isnt a single fact to prove their is a god, the religious books have been reliably wrong about many things including evolution. The chances of there being any god are remote to zero.
Stop being sheep look at the facts not the fiction.
Based solely on the facts instead of mumbo jumbo its unlilely there is a god.
Try reading the “God Delusion” and get some facts not fantasy.
Anyone who says they have a Catholic Child jewish child is comitting child abuse and forcing religion onto their kids. When they are 18 then start teaching them what religion is about untilt hen stick to the facts.
There is no proof for a god.

G.O.

@ oldandrew

“In case you hadn’t noticed the post you are replying to starts with a series of anecdotes about the evils of anonymous Catholics. That’s no more an attack on the institution of the Church than a series of stories about evil Jews would be a critique of the office of the Chief Rabbi.”

But these ‘anonymous Catholics’ were speaking in an official capacity on behalf of a Church-sponsored institution by which they were employed to share Church teaching! You might as well complain that if I condemn the views expressed by a Tory spokesman, I’m engaging in a personal attack on him (rather than on the views of the Party he represents).

But the quote you point to is an example of a ‘personal attack’, so fair enough – they do happen. I was speaking for myself rather than on behalf of everyone who’s ever posted here.

@ Just Visiting:

You might be right about LC being somewhat selective in the flavours of religious illiberalism it chooses to challenge; I don’t know, I’ve not been reading it that long.

“Are you serously saying that Islam does not have people who ‘speak on behalf’ of it?
Are you saying there are not respected clerics and leaders for Sunni Muslims, and for Shi-ite Muslims?”

I’m just saying that no-one can claim to speak for ‘the Muslims’ as a group. Of course there are people who speak on behalf of particular organisations identifying themselves as Muslim – charities, mosques, governments, political parties, terrorist organisations, universities, campaiging groups, or whatever – but criticising those organisations is not the same as criticising ‘the Muslims’.

(Similarly, criticising the Catholic Church is not the same thing as criticising ‘the Christians’ – or even ‘the Catholics’, since many of them disagree with the Church on many issues.)

“Are you saying that the death penalty for adultery – and for apostasy – is not advocated by the senior theologians and Imams from both Sunni and Shia sides?”

No. Just that it would wrong to make the blanket statement that ‘the Muslims’ are therefore in favour of the death penalty for adultery – just as it would be wrong to make the blanket statement that ‘the Catholics’ are opposed to the use of condoms (unless ‘the Catholics’ is being used as shorthand for ‘the Catholic Church’, in the same way ‘the Tories’ is used as shorthand for ‘the Tory Party’).

>Religion its all nothing more than ” a belie f”

so is atheism

>Anyone who says they have a Catholic Child jewish child is comitting child abuse and forcing religion onto their kids. When they are 18 then start teaching them what religion is about untilt hen stick to the facts.

The same, in this bizarre proposal for human engineering, would presumably hold true for atheists.

As for this crap equating Nazism with ‘atheist extremism’: unpicking Nazi views on religion is a complicated business (because they were a bunch of opportunistic, manipulative two-faced bastards, and also disagreed among themselves), but their ideology certainly drew on religious and mystical beliefs and traditions more than it did on atheism (to which, as far as I know, they were pretty clearly and consistently opposed). The closest thing to an official, sincerely-held Nazi religious ideology is probably ‘Positive Christianity’.

56. James from Durham

My god, there’s some shite being talked here, on all sides.

1) The pope and the hitler youth. Now, I know the pope is elderly, but the Hitler You closed its doors 65 years ago. I doubt that he had much say in whether he joined the Hitler Youth (the clue is in the name!). He is 83 now, he was 18 when the war ended. Are we really going to hold against him the fact that he was involved in an organisation as a child?

2) The RC church was ambivalent towards the Nazis. The Brits weren’t. This is a fantasy view – you’ve been watchg too many Ealing Studios films. The Brit establishment were AT BEST ambivalent to the Nazis in the 30s. Churchilll wasn’t – he could see it would all end in tears.

3) Christians shouldn’t indoctrinate their kids. Yeah, and we should ban any advertising that might encourage materialism. In fact best we don’t teach them anything because it might corrupt their innocent minds.

It’s a sign of how crap the comment is that I have to attack the atheists when I am as hostile to the RC hierarchy as anyone. Oldandrew can attest to this, from a previous thread!

Clearly the Pope is evil. Pope spelt backwards is Epop and another 4 letter word starting with E is Evil. Case closed. Can we stop now?

I’m loving the Papal visit. Utterly hilarious so far.

I mean what kind of satirist thinks to have a former Nazi accuse the English of being Nazis? Maybe one in ten?

But then how many think to have the Nazi claim the British are Nazis because they are atheist?

It is utterly Brilliant. Genius. Comedy gold. Those who defeated Christian fundamentalism in Europe are now just like the Christian fundamentalist because they are not Christian…

Fantastic! Fair play to the Pope! Queen Elizabeth couldn’t have better justified why we needed to kill all those Spaniards in Cadiz to keep him from our shores.

Oh – and for those who haven’t read history or indeed Mein Kampf (one of the few things I have in common with the Pope is that I have) – lets not get into the silly debate about whether Hitler was a Christian. He was head of a Christian Church. He took papal visits every birthday. He said he was Christian. He claimed that killing the homosexuals and atheists was god’s work.

And if you really are unsure – don’t argue the point. Just look it up and educate yourselves.

James from Durham

Be fair – Churchill (and the Labour movement’s key figures – hence so many were in the war cabinet) were not ambivelent even if others were – and the ambivelence they had was largely a result from the “never again” mentality that sadly prevailed after WW1.

But the Catholic Church was not ambivelent. It bestowed such honour on Hitler that they allowed him to veto Bishop appointments for churches even outside of Nazi terrirory in neutral places like Spain.

60. Chaise Guevara

James from Durham:

I agree fully with your fist two points. The Hitler Youth things is an especially weak and unfair attack. However, I think you’re missing a point or two here:

“3) Christians shouldn’t indoctrinate their kids. Yeah, and we should ban any advertising that might encourage materialism. In fact best we don’t teach them anything because it might corrupt their innocent minds.

It’s a sign of how crap the comment is that I have to attack the atheists when I am as hostile to the RC hierarchy as anyone. Oldandrew can attest to this, from a previous thread!”

Firstly, I’m not sure why yo’re using ‘atheist’ to mean ‘someone critical of the Catholic Church’. There’s a whole range of other options there.

Secondly, there is a world of difference between teaching people that 2+2=4 and that France is in Europe, and indoctrinating them into believing that if they have sex outside of marriage, use a condom, or sleep with someone of the same sex, they’re liable to spend eternity in a lake of fire with worms eating their guts out. Of course you can’t protect children from picking up certain modes of thought, and nor should you try. But you can condemn people for taking the “the hand that rocks the cradle shapes the world” approach.

I for one think it’s wrong to push your faith (including hardline, ‘definitely no god’ atheism) onto kids, including your own. I wouldn’t advocate making it illegal: that would be divisive, unenforcable and a massive infringement of parents’ freedom of speech. But that doesn’t mean I don’t condemn it, or that we shouldn’t push for teaching in schools, at least, to be wholly secular.

61. Chaise Guevara

“Oh – and for those who haven’t read history or indeed Mein Kampf (one of the few things I have in common with the Pope is that I have) – lets not get into the silly debate about whether Hitler was a Christian. He was head of a Christian Church. He took papal visits every birthday. He said he was Christian. He claimed that killing the homosexuals and atheists was god’s work.

And if you really are unsure – don’t argue the point. Just look it up and educate yourselves.”

Dawkins attempted to prove Hitler was a Christian and ended up making it pretty clear that he wasn’t. Apparently, he went through the motions in public and invoked God in speeches as a way of marketing himself and his policies to the people, but in private writings he seems to be an atheist.

Not that it matters one way or the other to the reasons for Nazism, which was built on nationalism, imperialism and racism. It wasn’t Christian or atheist extremism.

Chaise

Ah – that’s where it gets interesting. Do you believe his public or personal persona?

For example, in his early works his christianity is pretty clear cut. Not surprising given his catholic upbringing and early desire to join the priesthood.

But later on it becomes ambiguous only because he tells one lot of people one thing and another lot of people another. Now obviously it isn’t hard to recognise that he was by nature duplicitous. But that calculating nature make it hard to establish which is the truth, if any of it was. (In theory he could have been lying from the start – though it seems more likely he started out catholic and maybe tempered that over time.

oh – but I utterly agree with your last line. It isn’t reallt about religion at all. Hate exists with and without religion in equal measure.

Chaise –

“Not that it matters one way or the other to the reasons for Nazism, which was built on nationalism, imperialism and racism. It wasn’t Christian or atheist extremism.”

I’d agree that the Nazis shouldn’t be described as either Christian or atheist extremists, but reiterate that their ‘nationalism, imperialism and racism’ were ideologically bound up with kooky religious beliefs of their own drawing on pagan and Christian traditions. They shouldn’t be seen as a purely secular phenomenon.

mmmm…… I think that BXVI has not said that atheist convictions = nazism. better he has said that nazism is atheist. As we all know that Jack killed several prostitutes but, of course, not all the prostitutes were killed by Jack 🙂

Atheists should think about it, instead of hiding this fact, affecting their personal convictions, with so many dissertations about the personal convictions of Hitler, the Pope, the catholics… and how should think and educate their kids the persons with a personal conviction that they do not have….. 🙂

I’m not atheist, so I do not mind at all if an atheist teaches his son to be a good atheist by teaching him nothing to believe. I do not understand why I cannot teach my son to be a good christian by teaching him to believe in Christ. Fortunately, this is my decission, not a Hitler’s decission.

I’m sorry but I do not see the reason to give an atheist education to my son. Please excuse my inhumane, irrational and totalitarian way of thinking, so far away of yours….

If sincerely I believe that abortion is the most horrible crime against the most undefended human being do I have to wait 18 years to tell my reasons to my son, just to not offend someone’s opinion about the education that others should give to their sons?

Can I tell him that is not very good to sacrifice children, goats or hens to Viracocha or do I wait 18 years to let him take his own decision about the children goats or hens?

@65

“I’m sorry but I do not see the reason to give an atheist education to my son. Please excuse my inhumane, irrational and totalitarian way of thinking, so far away of yours….”

What fatuous nonsense. Your child shouldn’t be educated to be an atheist any more than he should be educated to be a Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Satanist or follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

He shouldn’t be educated in a faith school even partially funded by my taxes though! If you want to pass on your beliefs to your child, do it in your own time and at your own expense.

As Dawkins and other “militant” atheists have pointed out, it is just as wrong to refer to children having a religion, as it is to them belonging to a political party. Schools can certainly educate children about religious faiths, but they shouldn’t be promoting them.

Funny watching some of the tory trolls defending Christrians. But not surprising. Christianity (Catholic or

@54 johnf

“>Religion its all nothing more than ” a belie f”

so is atheism”

Trying to equate atheism with religious belief systems is like saying bald is a hair colour. Having “faith” in something means suspending disbelief and accepting the supernatural, whilst also believing that “your” chosen belief system is uniquely correct. Being an atheist isn’t the same at all.

Funny watching some of the tory trolls defending Christians. But not surprising. Christianity (Catholic or Protestant flavour) has always been Conservatisms version of Communism. A way of keeping control over people.

Freedom, don’t make me laugh, Conservatives are just dishonest about freedom.
Freedom for me, but not for thee. Morality for thee, but not for me, Taxes for thee, but not for me.

AP –

“BXVI has not said that atheist convictions = nazism. better he has said that nazism is atheist.”

Hmm. Compare:

“Joe has not said that being Jewish = being a child-murderer, better he has said that child murder is Jewish.”

Note that Joe hasn’t claimed that every Jew murders children, just that murdering children is a Jewish thing to do. That’s OK then, is it?

No, it’s not, because murdering children isn’t a Jewish thing to do. And murdering Jews isn’t an atheist thing to do.

Just a heads-up to peeps saying atheism is a religion, or like a religion – the HUGE difference is that if an atheist is given evidence against their opinion they will weigh it up and change their mind accordingly. A religious person, given evidence, will not. They will fit “god” around said evidence. And that is the difference.

ALSO: atheists (hardly) ever say “there is definitely no god”. Even Dawkins says “there’s probably no god”, as did those controversial adverts on London buses a couple of years ago. Religious people (hardly) ever say “there might not be a god”.

Mmmkay? All clear?

(Oh and didn’t the Nazis go off looking for the Spear of Destiny and other pseudo-christian “relics”?? hardly the acts of atheist thinking….)

I wonder how many of those arrested today for an alleged terrorist plot against the pope are pesky gnu atheists?

‘Dawkins attempted to prove Hitler was a Christian and ended up making it pretty clear that he wasn’t. Apparently, he went through the motions in public and invoked God in speeches as a way of marketing himself and his policies to the people, but in private writings he seems to be an atheist.’

I fail to see how anyone who proclaims he is a catholic – no matter how incincerely – and who appeals directly to German people *as* Catholics, and who taps into centuries of catholic anti-semitism is in any way ‘secular’.

If I managed to whip up a gang of scientologists into a frothing rage against another group by tapping into their hatred of that group this would not mean Scientology isn’t responsible. The hatred is there already.

‘I’m loving the Papal visit. Utterly hilarious so far.’

Me too. Wherever there’s an official festival there’s a carnivalesque flipside.

It reminds me of the Jubilee in the 70s when punk really took off.

Ratzo’s the best recruiting sargeant the secular world has had since Osama Bin Laden.

76. margin4error

GO

The Pagan stuff is mainly about the old Nordic mythology that was used in propoganda by people like Rosenberg – a useful tool for making war look individually heroic and even naturally germanic.

It wasn’t really part of Hitler’s or the other Nazi leaders’ beliefs. And obviously it wasn’t a belief held to by many Germans.

77. margin4error

Shatterface

your logic does indeed lead to the possibility that Ossama Bin Laden is Hindu or Jewish by faith – but just uses religion to further other personal vendettas. Certainly his life in London as a young man was not particularly islamic.

“But these ‘anonymous Catholics’ were speaking in an official capacity on behalf of a Church-sponsored institution by which they were employed to share Church teaching!”

Oh for pity’s sake. Are you seriously saying that every anecdote about what a teacher said tells us the official policy of the institution that owns the school?

Anecdotes about the evil of anonymous Catholic teachers are not political critiques of the policies of the papacy. They are a way of encouraging hatred of Catholics.

58,

Obviously, the Pope was not a Nazi and did not accuse the British of being Nazis.

I can’t see the point of arguing over the Spanish Armada when mentioning it in a discussion about the Catholic Church today puts you in the Iain Paisley camp and just undermines you.

But I would be interested in a source for some of your claims about Hitler. The Papal visit every birthday bit, and the head of a Christian church bit has made me very curious.

@78 oldandrew

Ah..still at it I see oldandrew…? Any criticism of the Roman Catholic Church = encouraging hatred of Catholics, and (of course) it’s all a huge conspiracy because there is some diabolic plan amongst militant atheists to treat Roman Catholicism unduly harshly.

The policies of the Papacy do merit criticism, but as past threads have proven you are deaf to the validity of any such criticism, irrespective of the evidence. You don’t have to be a great admirer of Peter Thatchell to see that many of the issues in his recent programme on C4 about the Pope’s visit are valid.

The Church, most of it’s heirarchy, and many of it’s adherents are in denial. It probably makes little odds in much of the secular West, as so few people are actually truly religious. The rump of the faithful can safely be left to argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin: they are condemned by their reactionary ideologies to wither on the vine… and good riddance.

“I fail to see how anyone who proclaims he is a catholic – no matter how incincerely – and who appeals directly to German people *as* Catholics, and who taps into centuries of catholic anti-semitism is in any way ‘secular’.”

Oh for pity’s sake.

In what parallel universe is this meant to have happened?

“You don’t have to be a great admirer of Peter Thatchell to see that many of the issues in his recent programme on C4 about the Pope’s visit are valid.”

Valid yes, but hardly substantive. I can’t help but notice that by the logic applied to the Catholic church by some on threads like this, that it covers up child abuse and promotes sexual practices with which we disagree (as do many Catholics), then we might also have to condemn our own care system on the same basis, as it has also done the same.

And another point. Most Catholics are not brainwashed fools (I still think the majority are Labour voters, which may or may not disprove my previous point…). Their reverence for the Pope is not mindless, but religious – he is in their eyes Christ’s vicar on earth, and worthy of respect. I regard it as impolite to ignore that myself – in the same way as I would respect a guru, the Dahli Lama or an ayatollah, I respect religious leaders of Christiainity. I can disagree with them and question their previous actions, but the casual (and often unknowing) offensiveness of some comments on these threads is slightly worrying. And particularly illiberal. Of course, it is your right to be rude to others – just don’t claim the moral high ground when so doing.

“Any criticism of the Roman Catholic Church = encouraging hatred of Catholics, and (of course) it’s all a huge conspiracy because there is some diabolic plan amongst militant atheists to treat Roman Catholicism unduly harshly.”

In case you haven’t noticed this particular diatribe didn’t start with commentary on the Roman Catholic Church, but with a number of anecdotes about the evil of ordinary Catholics. The anti-Catholic stuff on this site has frequently taken a form that cannot be excused as simply criticism of the church but not its adherents.

As for the conspiracy theorist attack, it hardly takes a conspiracy to suggest that there is intolerance against Catholics in some parts of the United Kingdom, nor could I confidently claim that atheists are behind the hatred of Catholics on this site when some of the anti-Catholic rants on here have praised the Reformation or Protestantism (and in one case Oliver Cromwell).

@82 Watchman

You are simply letting the Catholic church off the hook. The fact that child abuse happened in the “secular” care system as well isn’t the issue under discussion, although it is just as real and just as monstrous. I’ve never heard anyone, either here or more generally, say that this somehow lessens the culpability of the Catholic church heirarchy for their handling of such events over many decades, or makes it less “substantive”.

It is a paranoid fantasy inhabited by people like oldandrew to see any criticism of the Catholic church as exhibiting a double standard, because they (mistakenly I believe) feel people treat the Catholic church more harshly than they would other faith groups, or for that matter more harshly than secular organisations.

As I said in my post, I don’t necessarily aggree with everything Thatchell says or does, but the Pope has to be judged on his record. That record is overwhelmingly reactionary, and in many areas highlighted in the programme such as birth control, stem cell research, attitudes to minority groups and towards dissent in the church, is deeply inimical to most people in this country… including many Catholics.

I have no interest in being rude to the Pope… as the waves of apathy which have greeted his visit adequately attest he and his beliefs are increasingly irrelevant simply because they are seen to represent attitudes the majority find distasteful.

“I fail to see how anyone who proclaims he is a catholic – no matter how incincerely – and who appeals directly to German people *as* Catholics, and who taps into centuries of catholic anti-semitism is in any way ‘secular’.”

Oh for pity’s sake.

In what parallel universe is this meant to have happened?

“The anti-Semitism of the new movement (Christian Social movement) was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.”
[Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

“I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”
[Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936]

“I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so”
[Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941]

“Today they say that Christianity is in danger, that the Catholic faith is threatened. My reply to them is: for the time being, Christians and not international atheists are now standing at Germany’s fore. I am not merely talking about Christianity; I confess that I will never ally myself with the parties which aim to destroy Christianity. Fourteen years they have gone arm in arm with atheism. At no time was greater damage ever done to Christianity than in those years when the Christian parties ruled side by side with those who denied the very existence of God. Germany’s entire cultural life was shattered and contaminated in this period. It shall be our task to burn out these manifestations of degeneracy in literature, theater, schools, and the press—that is, in our entire culture—and to eliminate the poison which has been permeating every facet of our lives for these past fourteen years.”

[Adolph Hitler, Speech, Stuttgart 1933]

In fairness, we must note that anti-Semitism was as much a Protestant phenomenon as a Catholic one.

@83 oldandrew

“As for the conspiracy theorist attack, it hardly takes a conspiracy to suggest that there is intolerance against Catholics in some parts of the United Kingdom”

I’m sure there is, as there is against many minority groups. It’s quite a step from maintaining that intolerance against Catholics exists (which I accept), to saying as you have in the past that there is a double standard on this site, or even more generally, which treats Catholicism more severely than other faith groups.

As for your comments about the attacks being on adherents, and not the institution as a whole, I don’t think it’s really a valid point. Most posters on here are capable of seeing that every Catholic can’t be tarred with the same brush. The fact is however individual Catholics sometimes commit terrible acts, and the Church has over decades mis-handelled, mislead and obfuscated in an attempt to protect its own.

‘In what parallel universe is this meant to have happened?’

Um, this one? I’m at work and not prepared to google Hitler’s speeches but if you’re not willing to take it on ‘faith’ feel free to look for evidence yourself.

You might even get a taste for it.

@85 Dunc

“In fairness, we must note that anti-Semitism was as much a Protestant phenomenon as a Catholic one.”

Well said. Both Christian traditions were, with regrettably few noble exceptions, supine in their response to Nazi policy.

Galen10,

I have to pass south Birmingham on Sunday, so my experience is more likely to be waves of worshippers than waves of apathy. But that is kind of the point – I am almost totally unconcerned about the Papal visit (only the matter of who funds what was actually of interest until I realised the Popemobile may be making my journey slower). However, I am not a Catholic (or religious), who have a genuine religious reason to be excited.

I tend to agree that Pope Benedict XVI (that’s his name folks – none of this ‘Joe’ stuff) is slightly reactionary. But then again, so is all religion. As to the child abuse, on another thread there is a strong consensus that only Roma who have been proven to have committed crimes should be deported from France, so presumably actually only those members of the Catholic heirarchy proven to have concealed child abuse can be regarded as wrong doers. And since mob rule is as wrong as French authoritarianism, can this be decided outside of a court room? Still, perhaps innocent until proven guilty is an outdated concept nowadays.

I don’t think religion was desperately important Hitler, except insomuch as it could be used to further power. This is from Ian Kershaw’s The Myth Of…

A few months earlier, the alleged hostility of Hitler to the Church had played a key role in persuading the Catholic parties to support the Protestant, and ‘pious’, Hindenburg in the election for the Reich Presidency. … They were equally concerned to attack and debunk the neo-pagan deification and mythologizing of Hitler. One speaker told of a woman who had erected an altar in her house with a picture of Hitler in place of the monstrance, and declared that he could simply not understand the German people for letting itself be led astray by such a charlatan: ‘Hitler has succeeded in organizing the idiots, and only idiots, hysterics, and fools to go the NSDAP.’ His election, he prophesied, would bring irreparable harm and destruction to Germany.

Hitler was himself well aware of the need to counter his anti-Christian image if his Party were to break through in Catholic areas. He was keen even in the early 1920s not to antagonize unnecessarily the Catholic Church. And during the rise to power the NSDAP made particular efforts-largely in vain-in Catholic areas such as the Rhineland and Bavaria to emphasize its ‘positive Christianity’, to deny the slur that it was an anti-religious party, and to claim that National Socialism alone could provide the Church with a barrier against Marxism.” In 1930 Hitler felt compelled to distance himself from Alfred Rosenberg, one of the leading Party ideologues, whose book The Myth of the 20th Century had cemented his reputation as the dominant representative of the ‘new heathenism’ and prominent ‘hate figure’ of the Catholic Church. And speaking before a mass gathering in the Catholic stronghold of Bavaria in April 1932, Hitler told his audience that while north German Protestants had labeled him a hireling of Rome and south German Catholics a pagan worshipper of Woden, he was merely of the opinion-here playing to some widespread anti-clerical sentiments-that priests in Germany, just as was the case in Italy, should end their political activities and confine themselves to denominational matters and pastoral duties: what the Pope had admitted in Italy, he concluded, could not be sinful in Germany. In fact, he was at pains to stress, he himself was deeply religious, the ‘spiritual distress’ of the German people even greater than its economic misery, and the toleration of over fourteen million anti-religious atheistic Marxists in Germany highly regrettable.

‘“As for the conspiracy theorist attack, it hardly takes a conspiracy to suggest that there is intolerance against Catholics in some parts of the United Kingdom”

Fom other christians, not gnu atheists.

Thanks to the mutual pan-christian ‘love’ between catholics and protestants my mixed-religion family left Belfast for the more secular mainland.

85,

The quotation where Hitler claimed to be Catholic is, as I understand it, not reliable. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe it appears only in English in a book by an American conspiracy theorist.

The quotation about the Catholic faith being in danger is taken out of context. Hitler is denying that he endangers Christianity or the Catholic faith by saying that the communists are a greater threat and he opposes them. He is not saying that he is Catholic or the German people are Catholic (as was claimed earlier).

I am glad you admit that anti-semitism in Germany was not (again as claimed earlier) a distinctly Catholic phenomena. The Nazis widely publicised Luther’s anti-semitic writings. While I hesitate to see any religious anti-semitism as a direct precursor to racial anti-semitism, the claim made earlier that the Nazi’s anti-semitism was “catholic” is truly absurd.

@89 Watchman

“I tend to agree that Pope Benedict XVI (that’s his name folks – none of this ‘Joe’ stuff) is slightly reactionary. But then again, so is all religion.”

Errrrmmm… well actually no it isn’t. The ideology of the Catholic church is a choice, however much they claim to be divinely inspired or guided. (NB! Disclaimer for the likes of oldandrew: the same is true of other faiths, I’m not singling out Catholics as uniquely evil, it’s just that we aren’t discussing other faiths).

Decisions relating to artificial birth control, stem cell research, women priests, married priests, homosexuality etc, etc could quite easily be taken in a more liberal direction: the fact they are not is a choice.

If the next Pope turns out to be a liberal (faint hope I know, but bear with me…..) and wakes up one morning to decree that from now on artificial birth control is fine, women priests are a great idea, homosexuals are the same as everyone else, stem cell research is going to be funded by the sale of Church assets…etc, etc then the faithful would be bound to accept his “ex-cathedra” pronouncements on matters of doctrine wouldn’t they?

Now that I’d love to see, if only to watch the whole edifice splinter into ever smaller and more ridiculous groups throwing mud at each other about who were the “real” Catholics.

“I’m at work and not prepared to google Hitler’s speeches but if you’re not willing to take it on ‘faith’ feel free to look for evidence yourself.”

I would hardly have made the comment I did if I thought there were any speeches of Hitler’s where he declares either himself or the German people to be Catholic.

@67. Galen10

Oh sorry, so if you teach a religion, probably your child will be religious; but if you do not teach any religion, probably your child will not be atheist ?
really you claim believers to do your “atheist work”?, Not me….

And yes, may be it is a pity that the idea of our administration about a full and integral education is wider than yours. Try to change it and, if you get it, I’ll claim to recover any help for my child’s education as I consider it should be… By now this is not my work…. I’m happy with that, not all our domestic policy are so bad 🙂

91,

I’m at a loss. I post explaining how I think that some of the anti-Catholic prejudice on this website might well be Protestant rather than atheist. You take a quotation from what I say and tell me that it is Protestants not atheists who are anti-Catholic.

How does that make any sense at all? Had you even read what you were replying to?

@71. G.O.

No, because the fact is that nazism is an atheist ideology while Jewish is not a children-murderer religion. You should balance out the propositions to get an accurate conclusion..

Of course you can consider that the superman theory, the racial supremacy… is a complete, inspirated and internally logical teological construction but I consider it makes more with Odin, Thor and the Ride of the Valkyries…

‘No, because the fact is that nazism is an atheist ideology’

I think you’ve discovered an entirely new use for the word ‘fact’.

@92 oldandrew

“While I hesitate to see any religious anti-semitism as a direct precursor to racial anti-semitism, the claim made earlier that the Nazi’s anti-semitism was “catholic” is truly absurd.”

Anti-semitism in Germany had a long and baleful history in Germany, as it did (and does) in many other places. It is undeniable however that there was a broad stripe of anti-semitism within both the Catholic and Protestant tradition in Germany. The fact that this reflected German society as a whole doesn’t make it any less of an indictment.

The failure of either religious tradition to take a stand and condemn anti-semitism was certainly PART of the reason the Nazis found it relatively easy to isolate, disenfranchise, dehumanize and ultimately attempt to annihilate most of the Jews in the parts of Europe under their control. It would of course not be true to say that Nazi anti-semitism was “catholic”, but the record of both the Catholic and Lutheran church in Germany in this area is deeply shameful.

100. margin4error

Heh he.

I am loving the whole debacle of a blog site of otherwise educated people getting tense one way or another about a visit by an x-Nazi turned story-teller who thinks Britons are a bit like Nazis.

The only way I see this getting any funnier is if he visits the USA (4th largest catholic state in the world behind Brazil, Mexico and the Philipenes – the UK is way down in about 40th) and they have to ask him on arrival “are you or have you ever been a member of the Nazi Party?”

I mean seriously – this is a man in a dress who believe artificual insemination was invented over 2000 years ago.

Comedians struggle to invent such gold.

The quotation where Hitler claimed to be Catholic is, as I understand it, not reliable. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe it appears only in English in a book by an American conspiracy theorist.

It appears in John Toland ‘s Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography. He cites Gen. Gerhard Engel’s personal diaries as his source. As far as I am aware, Toland is a well-respected author and historian and his biography of Hitler is well regarded. Although his work certainly has been referenced by conspiracy theorists, I do not know of any reason to regard Toland himself as such. Perhaps you’d like to offer some support for that allegation?

@95 AP

I’ve read your response a number of times, and still don’t see your point?

oldandrew

“Are you seriously saying that every anecdote about what a teacher said tells us the official policy of the institution that owns the school?”

No, I suppose not. But

1 – it’s not unreasonable to think that most of the Religious Education delivered in Catholic schools by Catholic teachers, under the guidance of the Catholic Church and no doubt using teaching materials prepared by Catholic educationalists, will broadly reflect Catholic teaching.

2 – as a matter of fact, these anecdotes *do* reflect the official policy of the Catholic Church. The Church *does* hold that using contraception is sinful, that abortion is a mortal sin, and that condoms shouldn’t be used to prevent the spread of AIDS. And that jaw-droppingly irresponsible lie about the HIV virus being able to pass through condoms came straight from the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family –

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/oct/09/aids

Surely you’re not going to tell me *he* doesn’t speak for the Church either?

As for your views on the Nazis: whatever his private views, it is a plain matter of fact that – in this universe, not a parallel universe – Hitler often put a Christian spin on his anti-Semitism, partly in an attempt to whip up already prevalent anti-Semitic feeling among both Catholics and Protestants in Germany. In Mein Kampf, for instance, he wrote: “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord”.

If you really think anti-Semitism sprang from nowhere in the 1930s and had nothing to do with earlier Christian attitudes to Jews – some of them enshrined in Church teaching – I think you must be living in a parallel universe.

@101 Dunc

Careful Dunc, oldandrew has form on this kind of thing!! Unless you can produce written evidence, preferably signed in blood by those involved and filmed for posterity, he is unlikely to accept it. A previous thread months ago about the Cardinal Hoyos letter went much the same way….. it wasn’t valid or even worth investigation in his book despite all the reports in the press, it was all just hearsay.

Trust me, that way madness lies…as well to debate the finer points of string theory with David Beckham.

Another one who wants to blame the worlds problems on the Pope.
Why don’t you grow up.
‘I was a Catholic and my teacher said…..’ ha ha – well at least you remembered something from your school days.

As for the child abuse – there is no excuse – and should be investigated.
But I’m quite sure that child abuse is not relegion specific, as much as the BBC and majority of the media want to convince you.

While the media wind up the easily convinced against the Catholic religion, spare a thought for the children being abused by members of other religions.
Maybe the BBC or Channel Four will spend some money highlighting all abused children whithin all religions….or maybe not.

As for Peter Thatchell, I feel sorry for him.
He is an unhappy Gay person. Does that mean he is no longer Gay?
Unfortunately for him no matter how much he complains, the Bible was written a long time before this Pope.

What I find really sad is how the vast majority of the Media seem to want to have a go at the Pope for being a Catholic. Anglican and Catholicism share very similar beliefs.
Tad bit hypocrital don’t you think… ahh thinking, now that’s something the media wants to do for everyone.

No, because the fact is that nazism is an atheist ideology

” The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, is creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life.

The advantages of a personal and political nature that might arise from compromising with atheistic organizations would not outweigh the consequences which would become apparent in the destruction of general moral basic values. The national Government regards the two Christian confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality.”

[Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 23 March 1933]

“We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.”

[Adolph Hitler, Speech, Berlin, 24 October 1933]

@ 90 Ben Six – thanks for that quote. It adds some much needed context to the speech in Holyrood yesterday. But that would ruin the game for far too many people of course.

@105 stargazor

“As for the child abuse – there is no excuse – and should be investigated.
But I’m quite sure that child abuse is not relegion specific, as much as the BBC and majority of the media want to convince you.”

No sensible person would say, let alone believe, that child abuse is religion specific. You’re erecting a straw man in a sadly deluded attempt to shift attention from the shortcomings of the Catholic church – an all too familiar tactic usually from those convinced believers who will never accept any criticism of their chosen beleif system.

Why are you so convinced that the BBC/C4 et al “have it in” for the Catholic church? It’s a total delusion…and worse, it’s special pleading to divert attention from the manifest failure of the Catholic church to be honest and truly contrite for its manifest failures in this area.

@105 stargazor (2)

“As for Peter Thatchell, I feel sorry for him.
He is an unhappy Gay person. Does that mean he is no longer Gay?
Unfortunately for him no matter how much he complains, the Bible was written a long time before this Pope.”

Why is it relevant if he is or is not gay any longer? The Bible was indeed written long before the current Pope. It was written by many hands, and is often mutually contradictory. Presumably you are trying to make some point about the Bible saying homosexuality is wrong, therefore it is an immutable truth? What about all the other stuff in the Bible that has kind of fallen by the wayside then…?

@105 Stargazor (3)

“What I find really sad is how the vast majority of the Media seem to want to have a go at the Pope for being a Catholic. Anglican and Catholicism share very similar beliefs.
Tad bit hypocrital don’t you think… ahh thinking, now that’s something the media wants to do for everyone.”

More delusional special pleading. The media are doing their job reporting on the different reactions to the visit. I found much of the coverage rather supine and sickly sweet rather than negative or “having a go”. The attacks aren’t becuase he’s a Catholic, they are becuase of his intolerance, authoritarianism and becuase of the ideology and policies he promotes.

@106. Dunc

Yes, a lot of things said by Adolf. Including very good declarations about the peace and international understanding….

I think he liked to kiss children in the street and comfort the poors..

But much more to do with the Ride of the Valkyries……….. don’t you think?

@102. Galen10

Sorry Galen10, I didn’t see your post

Easy, only that if you teach Judaism you get jews and if you teach nothing you get atheists.

This is why there are so many atheists interested in teaching nothing. Of course hidden behind the “freedom to choose when he is an adult”, “impartiality of the administration”… and so many repeated and tedious things….

@ Galen10

You obviously have issues that are beyond my help.

@113 stargazor

Yeah.. thought as much: another troll not interested in debate.

101,

John Toland was a journalist and author and not a historian except in the loosest possible sense. He was the conspiracy theorist responsible for the myth that FDR connived in the deaths of the two and a half thousand Americans killed at Pearl Harbour. As I remember it, the much quoted claim that Hitler declared himself a Catholic (in a private conversation with General Engel) is not from a written source in German, but something that Toland claimed Engel told him. Obviously, it can’t be proved one way or another, but it is at odds with the first person accounts we have of the views Hitler’s expressed to those in his circle it was about the only evidence Toland had for his attempts to implicate Catholicism in Nazism.

@112 AP

No, you leave brain washing of children to be done at home by the people of faith who insist on foisting it on their poor offspring. It has no place being done in school except as an academic subject examining all the various flavours.

If religion is that convincing, they will no doubt be convinced by the power of the message… or more likely follow the faith of their parents like gnerations before them.

“A previous thread months ago about the Cardinal Hoyos letter went much the same way….. it wasn’t valid or even worth investigation in his book despite all the reports in the press, it was all just hearsay.”

I was going to ask about that. The conspiracy to write the Hoyos letter still seems not to have come to public attention yet. This is despite the calims of the internet writers interpreting the newspaper reports repeating the text of the press agency acount of the radio interview with Hoyos.

Are you expecting it to come out soon? If it is as incriminating as you say I doubt the Vatican can suppress it any longer.

@117 oldandrew

I think we established in the previous thread it wasn’t worth continuing with that one, and I haven’t revisited the area since the original thread so I don’t know if anything new has come up.

I am of course totally unsurprised that you are so convinced there is nothing to it.

@116. Galen10

No, Galen10, I take care to keep an eye on the persons I share my son’s education with and help to me in teaching him what I want to teach him. Not what you would like to teach him :). Because this is my opinion about the things to be done in schools, and, by now, much to your regret, I can do it. Sorry.

And Maths are very convincing too, but I prefer not to wait for miracles 🙂 🙂 :). Its a joke, of course. But I do not see why I have to wait 18 years, or any other period that you choose for my son, not me, for the effect of “the power of the message” if I’m convinced of it…

If “my message” is not so good, he will have a lot of time to discard it instead of having a lot of time to get it “from nothing”, if at last it is good enough. Don’t you think?

115. oldandrew

Do not worry so much about these arguments, my friend. You should be rational, intelligent, clever….and accept that nazism was characterized by its high, very very high, spiritual, metaphysical, and trasnscendental level as a lot of persons seem to think over here. Probably this why some of them are atheist :). I would too.

Good evening to everybody I’m going to dedicate some time to my son (and review his homework to see if he has finished his todays swastic-catholic cross)

103,

Even an archbishop doesn’t have the power to make his opinions the universal doctrine of the church.

With regard to the “parallel universe” point, I think you can indeed argue that Nazi anti-semitism was of a distinctly modern (i.e. nineteenth century) flavour. That was certainly the view taken by the Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt (herself a refugee from the Nazis) in “The Origins of Totalitarianism”.

That said, my shock was more at the suggestion that Germany’s anti-semitism was somehow particularly Catholic, given the role Luther played in the history of religious anti-semitism in Germany.

“I think we established in the previous thread it wasn’t worth continuing with that one, and I haven’t revisited the area since the original thread so I don’t know if anything new has come up.”

Then why did you bring it up? Surely you are not trying to suggest that my scepticism about the second-hand account of one conspiracy theorist is somehow less justified because in the past I rejected the fifth-hand accounts that formed the basis of your conspiracy theory?

@122 oldandrew

As I said, not prepared to go there until I saw what if anything has happened in the interim. You proved yourself impossible to debate with then, I’m not going to waste my time on a Friday evening.

AP

No-one is claiming that “nazism was characterized by its high, very very high, spiritual, metaphysical, and trasnscendental level”. What people are claiming is just that it was not an atheist ideology; it was an ideology that included various mystical and religious elements. Those elements may have been nutty, inconsistent, half-baked, self-serving, stupid, racist etc., but they were there. Go and read up on Alfred Rosenberg and ‘Positive Christianity’, then come back and tell us that Nazism was an unequivocally atheist ideology.

while those pope haters wine and dine on sentiments aired out by pagans and the secular, catholic or not YOU are a target. this war is not even about the pope, its about your beliefs(christianity, islam etc); that the fear of God is primitive and uncivilised. the religious are under attack not the papacy,but benedict.its just common sense. when at war,you hit the strongest bases first then the weaker ones flee for dear life or surrender or die! If you believe in a supernatural being you under attack its not about sex scandals,homosexuality,but the death of YOUR SOUL! Waky waky!

125

The belief in the supernatural IS often primitive and uncivilzed, and that’s the problem atheists and agnostics often have with people of faith.

Too often, their protestations about attacks on their faith, or the privileged position of their chosen faith within society, amount to no more than a license to continue to discriminate against non-believers, or to promote policies which many people not of their faith find offensive, unacceptable or just plain daft.

If you people want to believe in some made up supernatural nonsense, go right ahead. Just don’t expect us not to stand around, point at you and laugh…. or where necessary protest (amongst other things) that faith-based discrimination against women and homosexuals is wrong, bans on abortion and condoms are evil, trying to stifle medical research wrong headed, and refusing to accept the theory of evolution simply evidence of primitvism.

Wonderful site. Lots of useful information here. I am sending it to some pals ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you on your effort!

so many sulkers out there are just being escapists. the the catholic (i.e the church of christ,the fountain of truth, the only and only church formed by christ, the rock of the kingdom of God) gives all peoples the freedom to lead thei lives as they so wish.
the church is neither the pope nor the priests and bishops but ALL MEN AND WOMEN OF GOD esp the BAPTISED ONES who do GOD’s will. whether the pope is the sinner or not, ONLY CHRIST IS TRUTH. the bible the pope uses is accessible to all MEN, WOMEN, AND THOSE WHO FIGHT FOR FREEDOM AND TRUTH.
the pope gives you the freedom to do and say all you want. if the God he preaches about is not the one you believe in, Respect his freedom of worship! just like you made yo personal choice to hate catholism through yo personal experience, give us a chance to have our personal experiences with catholicism and the pope.
Catholics must logically understand that THE CHURCH IS NOT THE PAPACY. OUR POPE IS OUR HEAD WHO DOES NOT BECOME SUPER HUMAN BY THE FACT OF OCCUPYING THAT SIT. HAVE YOU EVER HEARD ANY POPE CLAIM SO? SO WHY LET THE IGNORANT EDUCATE YOU? THE CASE OF THE BLIND LEADING THE WAY.
CATHOLICISM IS A FRANK RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. IT REQUIRES REVIEWING THE SELF, ACKNOWLEDGING GUILT, AND CARRYING YOUR CROSS. CLEAN UP YOUR CLOSETS FRIENDS, MOTHER CHURCH WILL ALWAYS BE OPEN. JUST DONT BLAME CHRISTIANITY FOR YOUR GUILT CONSCIENCE. YOU HAVE A CHOICE TO JOIN THE CHURCH OR LEAVE IT NOT ABUSE IT. YOU SAY YO FIGHTING PAEDOPHILES BUT YO DOING THE SAME TO WE CATHOLICS BY CONSTANTLY DEFILING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF OUR HUMAN RIGHTS. CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A CHOICE BUT LIFE. OR MAY BE WE BELIEVE IN A DIFFERENT GOD AND THATS FINE, RESPECT THAT AND SHUT UP.


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Christians can protest the Pope's visit too http://bit.ly/ckvICj

  2. karen birch

    RT @libcon: Christians can protest the Pope's visit too http://bit.ly/ckvICj

  3. Malcolm Evison

    Christians can protest the Pope’s visit too | Liberal Conspiracy: http://bit.ly/boYaLw via @addthis

  4. Megan Price

    Well said. RT @libcon Christians can protest the Pope's visit too http://bit.ly/ckvICj

  5. Paul Sagar

    RT @libcon: Christians can protest the Pope's visit too http://bit.ly/ckvICj





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