“aided and abetted by secret sects, satanic groups and New Age movements..”

Officially, Emperor Pope Benedict XVI declined the invitation to address the European Parliament this year owing to other commitments and his age. Unofficially, according to sources in this Times report, it’s because of the church hierarchy’s “great disillusionment” with the European project as the EU “has become more and more secularist”. Besides concern with the Anglican church’s supernatural well-being, secularism was at the forefront of the thoughts of one of the three cardinals despatched to the Lambeth Conference. Cardinal Ivan Dias’ concern was reported in the Times.

He described modern secularism as being engaged in “spiritual combat” with the Church. The Cardinal said: “This combat rages fiercely even today, aided and abetted by secret sects, satanic groups and New Age movements, to mention but a few, and reveals many ugly heads of the hideous antiGod monster: among them are notoriously secularism, which seeks to build a godless society; spiritual indifference, which is insensitive to transcendental values; and relativism, which is contrary to the permanent tenets of the gospel.”

Well, that’s me told. No wonder some of those secularists are wary of the reasons behind the declining of that invitation. As self-declared humanist MEP Mary Honeyball, writing at CommentisFree, puts it

Pope Benedict XVI’s refusal to address the European parliament for fear it is becoming “militantly secularist” initially struck me, a humanist MEP, a triumph of equality and rationality for the EU. But on deeper reflection, I think it’s a cop-out of the grandest scale, setting a dangerous precedent for other cultural and religious leaders to “opt out” of EU proceedings if they are dissatisfied with their values and methods. By refusing to take part in the parliament’s Year of Intercultural Dialogue, the pontiff is effectively holding the EU to ransom. Declining to speak to MEPs, giving the excuse of other commitments and his age, sends out a very clear message: “Unless you play by my rules, I’m not taking part.”

Still, there are always other projects to occupy his time..

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  • What tosh from the cardinal. Secularists just want a separation of church and state. Some are also atheists and some are religous. To say they are among the “ugly heads of the hideous antiGod monster” is hilarous, but untrue.

    I’d say that few people wishing to promote secularism are involved in New Age sects or the satanic brand of religion.

  • The mistake the church makes over and over again is to assume that secularists care enough about the God question to by actively ‘anti-God’. The more secular they are the less they care.

    You hear this from local Irish clergy and bishops too; a complaint that the country is divided between those who are religious and those who have no moral sense at all and are actively anti religious. They don’t get it – that most Irish people are a wee bit one way and a wee bit the other and the rest of the time would rather have a cool beer than listen to a bishop.

  • abucs

    Ah, the good old fashioned Irish boycott.
    Those were the days.

  • Peat Blog

    How “our wee country” assumptions are being challenged. I thought the EU was meant to be a Papish plot and that the church had a monopoly on “secret sects, satanic groups and New Age movements”

  • joeCanuck

    I think Ms. Honeyball’s initial reaction is the correct analysis. Any “debate” would be fruitless. There is no rational intellectual argument that the Pope could deliver that would persuade secularists that there is a place for religion in internal political considerations. And, on the other side, I doubt that the Pope can be delivered from his supernatural beliefs.


    You cannot have a rational debate with any religion, religion is by its very nature, irrational.
    So the Pope has chucked his dummy out of the popemobile, fuck him and every other charlatan masquerading as a conduit to some non existant higher power. Roll on the secular states of Europe.

  • Dave

    So, exactly which states have separated church from state under the direction of the EU bureaucrats? Sweet feck all. It’s another example of the EU trying desperately to justify its dismal existence by claiming credit for developments that it had absolutely nothing to do with. In those countries that still have formal links between the church and the state (such as the UK), the EU hasn’t influenced the proposed separation in any manner whatsoever, and in the others, that separation was there long before the EU and its bunch of over-regulating wasters got in on the act.

    EU fetishists and secularists are confusing intolerance of religious beliefs with separation of church and state (a wholly redundant enterprise).

  • Damien Okado-Gough

    What’s this? The EU parliament as a governing body should be upholding the law of god? Vaguely familiar that line…..

    At least the DUP don’t throw their rattle out of the pram when they’re having to break the word of god by tolerating, indeed protecting and promoting, homosexuality whilst in government.

  • BfB

    Slugger turning into a small shower of assholes, virulent anti-Catholic fools. Tsk tsk. Can’t wait for you to blame Bush when the EU blows up 5 years from now.
    Pete Baker is quite the prat.
    Imho that is.
    Politics in NI?


    Tp be fair, I’m virulently anti all religions, stop trying to place catholicism in some special place in order to satisfy your own masturbatory persecution fantasy..

  • Pete Baker


    Keep it civil.

    And preferably rational.

    In debates that crucially affect the wellbeing of the world, ideas and beliefs should be open to tough challenge and hard discussion. Let someone state a view, and let the view be subjected to rigorous scrutiny, no holds barred, and no pleas of offence, hurt feelings, self-proclaimed sensitivities, “sacredness” or any other excuse allowed to stand in the way. But with a strictly governed exception, namely, an office-holder speaking ex-officio, let no individual be the target of attack, and even then neither abuse nor ad hominem attack.

    There is no excuse for ill manners and insults, though of course there is an explanation: usually, the impotence and weakness of the insulter and his or her case. Insult an idea or an institution, by all means, if you have serious grounds to do so; but not individuals: that is the bottom line.



    I’m interested in how you propose anyone have a rational discussion about the place of the supernatural, especially with those who claim to have an intimate relationship with the supernatural.
    As for civility, I’ll be civil the moment people stop telling me I’m going to hell for disagreeing with them.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Cardinal Brady, though, is in favour of Lisbon:

    “In a clear warning against Ireland becoming isolated from the rest of Europe, Cardinal Brady stressed that St Malachy, a former bishop of the diocese of Down and Connor, introduced the Cistercians and Augustinian monks as agents of monastic reform into the Irish Church…

    In these post-Lisbon Treaty referendum days, it could be salutary for all of us to reflect on that European help and to consider what help we might accept today.”

    Referring to Bishop Treanor’s vast experience in Europe, Cardinal Brady highlighted how the new head of Ireland’s second-largest diocese could play an influential role in connecting both Ireland and Europe and renewing their Christian roots.”


    Though clearly no less inclined to meddle in politics. This on the day when he ought to have been distancing himself from his “general agreement” with Iris Robinson’s “role of government” intervention – he has thus far failed to.

    I would have thought the ultra-liberal and anti-immigration aspects of the Treaty would consolidate poverty in Africa, and therefore the religion’s position there. I’m not sure the Pope isn’t trying to have the best of both worlds – he didn’t call on Catholics to oppose Lisbon or the Constitution, so why complain about the direction now?

    Or is it an attempt to increase his role in EU affairs, and therefore the political life of 27 democracies. I don’t feel he should be invited to address the EU Parliament anyway. He doesn’t speak on behalf of people in this context; they speak for themselves by voting.

  • Rory

    I find that if I allow the view of MEP Mary Honeyball “be subjected to rigorous scrutiny” I observe that she herself appears to have avoided any rigorous scrutiny insofar as she chooses to base her own comments on the reported comments of anonymous sources which attempt to put a spin on a simple Vatican statement giving the reasons for the Pope’s inability to accept the European Parliament’s invitation on this occasion.

    Why Ms Honeyball is able to blithely assert that “Pope Benedict XVI’s refusal to address the European parliament [was motivated by]… fear [that] it is becoming “militantly secularist” based on such anonymous spin and have that assertion then treated as something to be taken seriously by us escapes me.

    Having said that, I do rather find that her very name has an eerily New Agey ring to it. Could it be….? But no, we won’t go down that road.

  • Brian Crowe

    Okay, this might be unpopular, but someone needs to defend Benedict. Two issues spring immediately to mind regarding his decision not to speak to the EP in January.

    The first is obvious but perhaps unconvincing – papal disapproval with regards to the decision to recognise Europe’s Christian heritage in the proposed Constitution. The Vatican clearly expressed its views at the time, so it is old news.

    Secondly (and this is just a guess), I am wondering if the Vatican reconsidered addressing the EP with only months to go before the European elections.

    What makes me think that the a version of the first explanation is perhaps unlikely is the Vatican’s regard for the EP’s Christian Democrat president Hans-Gert Pöttering. Having heard him speak in Warsaw last year, he has a deep conviction about the need for the best values of Europe’s Christian tradition to find expression in the European institutions. Snubbing such an influential lay Catholic would not be in the Vatican’s interest.

    Anyway, just some thoughts on the issue from someone who was looking forward to hearing what Benedict had to say at the EP.

  • Damian O’Loan


    What is the UU view on separation of Church and state, and will it have to adapt under the proposed merger? Thanks in advance, hope you are well.

  • billie-Joe Remarkable

    Hmmm, you say: “…and let the view be subjected to rigorous scrutiny”. You’re having a laugh, right?

  • BfB


    I got the fool part right….you know I did.



    Sure you did, just like you got the immminent collapse of Europe right, if we don’t start following your advice and become a theocratic Christian state.
    How ever has Europe survived without following the fundametalist route of America?
    How unlucky I am to live in the great secular republic that is France.

    Keep dreaming god boy.

  • Brian Crowe


    Good to hear from you. Needless to say my postings here are entirely my own personal views – and for obvious reasons I avoid political commentary, preferring the safer, friendlier ground of theology (!).

    (However, just to make sure I am actually doing my job properly, I should point out that “merger” was not a term used in the DC-SRE article.)

    So, while I will not give a UU answer to the issue of ‘church-state separation’ – just a personal answer – I think it is pushing things somewhat to suggest that ‘church-state separation’ is undermined by inviting the Pope to address the EP. Actually, surely it is a sign of healthy pluralism having a significant faith-leader engage in such a fashion.

    Also, I think we need to be careful about the term ‘church-state separation’. Few European countries follow the model invented by the US Supreme Court – bar the French, of course. But then considering I view 1789 as a disaster …

  • Damian O’Loan

    Thanks Brian. I hesitated on ‘merger’ myself, though I believe the party is not to be subsumed, so just wanted to give it the dues it appears to be being offered.

    I see the Pope’s decision in terms of a long-term campaign, that will outlive him, to undo the progresses of the Enlightenment, progress that, justement, did nothing for Catholic influence. For that reason I think every move has to be closely monitored – he has serious political support already (far beyond Mrs Robinson…).

    So I fear your refuge will not be one indefinitely, though I sincerely hope so. Continued best wishes – if Cameron gets his election, sooner rather than later, you’ll be a busy man I imagine.

  • Brian Crowe

    Damian – I hope you can guess I am not with Iris and her (scary) comic-book approach to theology. I fundamentally (ahem) disagree with her recent statements.

    As for the ‘progress of the Enlightenment’ … I’m afraid I am with philosopher Alasdair Macintyre who has referred to the ‘failed Enlightenment project’.

    Heresy, I know.


    Do you have a point in your postings or are you just going to harp on about how much you detest religion and the religious? Come now, it seems you’re being just as bigoted as you say religious folk are to you. If you have a logical, concise point to add to the topic it’d be lovely to hear it otherwise, please take your soapbox elsewhere.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Of course. I’ll check out Macintyre – from the comfort of Paris and the benefits of strict separation.



    I think you’ll find my very first uttering on this thread makes a clear and unmabiguous point.
    I went on to repeat it.

    The opening blog talks abut a rational dialogue and I offered what I consideredd to be a fair and reasonable point as to why this is not possible.
    Were I to expound on that point, I’d probably offer up the tendency for religious types to resort to character assasination the moment they are challenged.
    Both yourself and BfB’s contributions to the thread are a case in point.

    Now there you have it, that was my point.
    Feel free to address it anytime you like.
    Observers to the thread can make up their own minds as to who is prepared to answer questions and argue their position.

    As for the other parts of my posts, which I freely admit are deliberately antaginistic towards religion, I make no apology, the religious have hadit too easy for too long, it’s time they realised their comfort blanket is being taken away.
    Ther’s no reason why having religious views merits one any special considerations, argue your point with cold hard facts, or expect to be laughed out of court if you can’t produce evidence.


    Shit, I wish Slugger had an edit function, my typing is atrocious.

  • joeCanuck


    The realtime spell check function works.


    realtime who whatsit?

    explain please, I’m not familiar with the term.
    is it a Slugger feature, or browser feature?

  • joeCanuck

    Under Google toolbox settings (see settings at top right of page usually), select spellcheck. That’s if you use the google toolbar, of course.
    Automatically underlines, in red, misspellings. Not foolproof of course, can’t distinuish its from it’s contextually, for example.


    I didn’t have it but it was easy to find and install.


  • BfB


    That’s God Boy……..I think I’ll get a tat.

    Don’t tell HellBoy!

    There’s a reason you’re not speaking German over there taffie.
    Wonder what it is…..
    It’s because a good amount of Christians and Jews and even atheists from the good, freedom seeking countries, stepped up.
    Not a concept your ilk could even grasp, I imagine.
    Tsk, tsk.


    If it wasn’t for us, you’d be speaking German

    Oh dear, that old chestnut?

    I’m minded to reply with a line from the Beatles film A Hard day’s Night

    Old man to John Lennon: “We fought a war for the likes of you”

    John Lennon to old man: “Bet you’re sorry you won”

  • BfB


    Meaningless piffle, as usual.

    A valid description, in the USA, and Britain. You must be so proud of yourself.

    ‘There are no quick fixes to solve the problem of increasing crime. Britain is becoming daily more brutal because for the last forty years, a godless elite have been destroying the Christian foundations of our society. Rebuilding that will not happen overnight, and only then if the Church rediscovers some courage in Christ’s statements of righteousness.

    ‘If we track back the roots of knife and gun crime, we have to confront the government-inspired collapse of family life, Parliament’s abolition of a proportionate penalty for murder, and the coarsening of our society, for which politicians and celebrities alike share responsibility.

    ‘The collapse of family life is down to the legalisation of divorce on demand in the 60s coupled with the state encouraging teenagers to have sex. These two anti-Christian measures taken together mean only around half of children are now growing up with their father.

    ‘Schools are also working behind parents’ backs, handing our contraceptives and arranging abortions to children for whom they would need the parents’ permission to give an aspirin. Parliament has said fathers aren’t even needed in families. How is a mother on her own supposed to restrain an adolescent son?

    ‘The absence of a father in today’s families is why young people look to the gang not the family for their sense of identity, as Barbara Wilding, Chief Constable of South Wales Police, said just two weeks ago. In addition, legislators have confused parents about how far they can discipline their children, while social services are only too keen to pounce and disrupt loving families if a child for some reason denounces its parents for the odd smack.’


    Ah BfB, beating and preaching, that’s what the youth of today need, eh?
    Bring back National Service, and the birch, make it compulsory, beat the little bastards black and blue.
    Let’s have some of that old time religion, with the Church turning a blind eye as kids are raped by the dozen and everyone is too scared to say anything about it.

    Those were the days, when women and kids knew their place, and everything was just so wonderful.
    Why you’re almost converting me with your well thought out arguments.

  • Peat Blog

    “There’s a reason you’re not speaking German over there taffie.
    Wonder what it is…..
    It’s because a good amount of Christians and Jews and even atheists from the good, freedom seeking countries, stepped up.”


    What are you on about?

    Were there no Christian Germans? How about Italians? Or Romanians? Or Ukrainians? Or Austrians? Or Croats? etc. etc.

  • Peat Blog

    As for post 8., BfB, to which Utopian era are you suggesting we be transported back to?

    I suppose there was no crime then…

  • ulsterfan

    This post is going round in circles.
    What are we supposed to be discussing?
    Is it something to do with the Pope not speaking to EU Parliament?
    Perhaps he is frightened by Paisleys presence there.


    I find it comical you’ve tagged me as “a religious type” with out even knowing a thing about me. My comments do not in any way sum up to “character assassination”. I was simply saying, try to make your point without attacking other people that you’ve stereotyped.

    I had no idea the religious have had it easy…I find that a comical comment really as well as terribly uninformed.

    I would like you to perhaps provide cold hard evidence for almost any belief in existence, Including atheism. Religion or any belief, including your own, is a matter of opinion or faith. Just because someone isn’t walking your path doesn’t mean theirs is wrong.

    It seems to me your hatred towards religion and the religious needs to be philosophically re- evaluated. If you desire respect, show it to others.

  • BfB


    Make your point.
    Or stfu.