"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Popes' U.K visit approaches

At the risk of repeating myself I was reminded by an interview with John Patten that Pope Benedict XVI will visit England and Scotland on a four-day Papal visit from 16-19 September 2010.
The first thing to say about this visit is that the associated costs to the British tax payer are now estimated at 12 Million pounds which given our current dire financial straights seems a lot of money to be spending on a visit from a the head of an organisation as morally discredited as the Catholic Church. This is of course an estimate and given the level of protest that will rightfully surround this visit the security costs may well escalate beyond that. The Catholic Church itself is to raise a further 7 million which is fine if its congregation really want to stump up the money, but in my book they should be footing the entire bill.
Ratzinger is coming at the invitation of the Queen (formally at any rate) which seems to mean that the Government can distance itself from the issue of the child abuse scandal and the subsequent cover ups by the hierarchy including the Pope himself as a former Cardinal. But as Richard Dawkins said,
“This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence.”
and consequently should be called to account for himself and his organisation. Our government has a responsibility to confront him on this issue. Not that he’ll get any challenge from John Patten who referred to Dawkins’ purely factual remark above as “abusive”, failing to see the irony I suppose. This Jesuit educated apologist will no doubt be heard defending his spiritual master throughout the Papal visit.
There even seems to be some equivocation about meeting some of the U.K abuse victims. Bishop Nichols has come out with some particularly distasteful weasel words
It should be up to the Vatican to decide whether the Pope should meet some of those who had suffered abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy.
It's easy for people to call for some great public gesture, such as meeting victims, but that in itself is a difficult process for someone who has suffered abuse.
And we must not use those who have suffered abuse for some kind of public agenda.
So Ratzinger will avoid confronting this issue because he wants to spare the victims’ feelings? Come on! These people have self identified as abuse victims and I would guess are rightly very angry at the institution that has been supressing the truth for so long. They ought to be invited to a face to face meeting even if they refuse to accept that invitation, which would be damning enough for the Pope. But no, once again the Church is more interested in saving its own face than confronting its crimes.
The deadline on the Protest the Pope petition has expired and closed with over 12000 signatures. Currently the new administration has suspended the site which is a shame as I’m sure even more people would respond as the date for the visit approaches.
Remember, the child abuse issue is not the only reason to condemn this visit. As the Protest the Pope website explains
The Pope not only opposes the right of women to have an abortion but also their right to contraception to prevent the need for abortions.
He also opposes women’s access to IVF fertility treatment to give childless couples the chance of parenthood. He condemns potentially life-saving embryonic stem cell research.
Pope Benedict denounces the use of condoms, even to stop the spread of HIV, as well as claiming falsely that condom usage “increases” the rate of HIV infection. This puts millions of lives at risk.
He opposes legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and their full protection in law against homophobic and transphobic discrimination
The Pope has authorised the Catholic Catechism, which condemns same-sex relationships as a “grave depravity” and “contrary to natural law.” In 1992, he criticised gay sexuality as a “tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil.”
All of which makes his plan to speak on “civil society” something of a sick joke.
We won’t get this visit cancelled it seems, but we should all do our best to make him feel as unwelcome as possible and challenge this immoral doctrine as loudly as possible.

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