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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pope's Visit to the United Kingdom

Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the UK today for a 4 day visit. This evening he held mass in Glasgow, Scotland with 70,000 in attendance. The headline of the London Times reads: POPE WARNS ON DANGERS OF DRUGS, DRINK, MONEY, AND SEX. The article begins: Pope Benedict XVI urged the youth of Scotland to resist the “destructive” temptations of modern life tonight as he kicked off a state visit to Britain by celebrating an open air mass in Glasgow.

I am not sure how much he knows about those subjects, with the exception of money, but maybe he has seen enough of the damage done by his own priests especially in the area of sex to convince him of the dangers.

One of his top aides refused to accompany him to the UK because of "the new and aggressive atheism" that permeates the country. Cardinal Walter Kasper, according to The Scotsman, pulled out of the papal visit after declaring that Britain was like "a Third World country" marked by "a new and aggressive atheism". Perhaps he was upset over the following petition signed by many British luminaries, including Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry and Terry Pratchett:

We, the undersigned, share the view that Pope Ratzinger should not be given the honour of a state visit to this country.

We believe that the Pope, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK, is of course free to enter and tour our country.

However, as well as a religious leader, the Pope is a head of state and the state and organisation of which he is head has been responsible for:

• opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of AIDS

• promoting segregated education

• denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women

• opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people

• failing to address the many cases of abuse of children within its own organisation.

The state of which the Pope is head has also resisted signing many major human rights treaties and has formed its own treaties ('concordats') with many states which negatively affect the human rights of citizens of those states.

In any case, we reject the masquerading of the Holy See as a state and the Pope as a head of state as merely a convenient fiction to amplify the international influence of the Vatican.

I like the wording in the above petition: "the masquerading of the Holy See as a state." I agree 100%. I think it is ridiculous that the Vatican has an ambassador to the US. This only began in 1984. There is too much political influence exerted by the Church in the US and this includes Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Mormons, as well as other religious groups.

A mural outside St John's Church in Edinburgh protests the Catholic Church's ban on women priests

Not only are the atheists protesting the Pope's visit but also Humanists, victims of sexual abuse, women's rights advocates and even Fundamentalist Evangelicals such as Ian Paisely (leader of the Free Presbyterian Church) are expressing their displeasure. What an interesting alliance. It may be many years before the Pope decides to set foot again in the British Isles.


  1. Worst thing is that us, the UK taxpayers, are paying for this unwanted (religion is plummeting in the UK) visit out of our tax money at a time when we're supposedly so much in debt that the largest cuts in living memory are about to be enacted...

    Glad to see some of my favourite UK-based authors/celebrities are against this (as well as for the great reasons listed) as well though.

  2. P.S. to my just-finished post... I'm a little surprised I'm just the 2nd commenter on this post. Aren't other people much concerned about this kind of thing?

  3. Concerned?


    Having something cogent to add is another matter altogether.