If the Churches want attention, they’d better speak for humanity

If you want an exhilarating meditation on death, read Philip Larkin’s Aubade, rather than the Pope’s mumbo jumbo about the magisterium.
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die…

But like Terry Pratchett I’ve a sneaking sympathy for the Anglican Church and wary respect for the Roman Catholic variety at its best. But why is it that in some of the biggest ethical issues of our time, the churches rely on their fading authority and custom and practice rather than rigorous exegesis?
Despite perfect storms over AIDS and child abuse, the Pope has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing as he upholds the Catholic church’s ban on open gays – as if he doesn’t meet and work with them every day. We’re supposed to be in awe when we’re solemnly told Church thinks in centuries when it comes to faith and morals. But it took the Pope about five minutes to have a tilt at Harriet Harman’s new equality law.
I’ve some sympathy with Clifford Longley’s point on English Catholic protests against the impact of gender equality on their adoption services, but only because it damaged a valuable pastoral service. There must have been a better way. Turning to Anglicans, Archbishop Sentamus’s contribution after Terry Pratchett’s moving and witty plea in last night’s Dimbleby lecture to legalise assisted death was to make a silly point about the standard polling sample of 1,000 not speaking for 61 million people. The Archbishop of Canterbury makes regular pleas for religion’s place in society to be better recognised.

I don’t believe we are living in a secular society, and I don’t believe that we are living in a deeply religiously divided society. I believe we are living in a society which is uncomfortably haunted by the memory of religion and doesn’t quite know what to do with it, and I believe we are living in a society which is religiously plural and confused but not therefore necessarily hostile.

He might stand a better chance of being heard if, on the some of the biggest issues, the Churches didn’t rush in with “No,no,no” and wrestled with these great themes like many of the rest of us, in respecful humility.

  • “wrestled with these great themes like many of the rest of us, in respecful humility.”

    You seem to take great pride in your ‘respectful humility’, Walker.

  • Greenflag

    Good post BW ,

    In particular given the experience of the RC church in recent years in Ireland . UK and USA , and now I read that even in Germany the Jesuits are being uncovered for some ‘problems ‘ it’s a poor and unnecessary call by the Pontiff .

    When a large fraction of his own clergy were practicing their gayness in secret where were the bishops and cardinals ?

    Shower of hypocrites .

  • joeCanuck

    where were the bishops and cardinals ?

    Silly boy; they were in bed like the rest of them.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Here is a good example of humility and an apt response to the Ratzinger profession of commitment to reason which leads him to these ‘truths’:

    “to understand how the abstrusest metaphysical assertions of a philosopher have been arrived at, it is always well (and wise) to first ask oneself: “What morality do they (or does he) aim at?” Accordingly, I do not believe that an “impulse to knowledge” is the father of philosophy; but that another impulse, here as elsewhere, has only made use of knowledge (and mistaken knowledge!) as an instrument. But whoever considers the fundamental impulses of man with a view to determining how far they may have here acted as INSPIRING GENII (or as demons and cobolds), will find that they have all practiced philosophy at one time or another, and that each one of them would have been only too glad to look upon itself as the ultimate end of existence and the legitimate LORD over all the other impulses.”


    Like many in the liberal media, you make a false amalgalm between homosexuality and paedophilia. It seems that those who would otherwise be too rational to confuse two distinct sexualities, one consensual and the other harmful beyond description, feel it’s somehow acceptable when discussing Churches.

    Why not just say enforced celibacy is a dangerous, imposed perversion, against any of the now discredited accounts of “natural law” favoured by the Pope, that has devastating consequences?


    Martin Amis has some very interesting things to say about Larkin, not unrelated, in this month’s Prospect, if you haven’t seen it already. It’s a terrible interview, but he makes the best of it:


  • joeCanuck

    you make a false amalgalm between homosexuality and paedophilia


    That is an important point to make.

  • Greenflag

    Damien O’Loan ,

    I don’t recall mentioning paedophilia which is if I’m not mistaken is a civil crime . Where is this false amalgam ? Homosexuality is not a crime between consenting adults under Civil Law -however under Canon law it’s a mortaler – but the Cardinals , Bishops and Popes looked the other way . They also looked the other way in cases of paedophilia for which crimes not enough of them were jailed .

  • Damian O’Loan


    It was that Brian’s original post was in response to the Pope’s comments regarding homosexuality and you raised the issue of paedophilia in Ireland without distinguishing the two.

    I take your point that the RCC holds them both in Robinson-like esteem, though consequently your comment “shower of hypocrites” only works on the more significant level.

    Apologies for the misunderstanding.

  • Gentelmen

    Heres a newsflash

    Mary was not a virgin.

    Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute.

    The Pope is a very rich man

    He got rich by lying:

    1st (so we are told) to the SS

    2nd to his congregation.

    The Catholic Church has much to answer for in this country.

    How many drunks were abused before they became drunks

    How many children were abused and went home to become abusers.

    It was Retzinger who said Dont tell the police, tell me.
    Screw Him.

  • Greenflag

    damien o’loan ,

    ‘Apologies for the misunderstanding.’
    Not to worry -it could happen to a bishop;)

    joe canuck ,

    ‘Silly boy; they were in bed like the rest of them.’

    So not in the Southwark Stews then ? The Stews were a much frequented tourist attraction in 14th century London. Prostitutes were of course not allowed in the Holy Christian City of London except in one street and I kid you not -Cock lane.
    Londoners and visitors to the city would cross the river to Southwark where they indulged in wine women and song . In the year 1374 there were 18 establishments for the provision of horizontal relaxation -all run by Flemish women . Some clergymen railed against the ‘immorality’ of course but very few alluded directly to the Southwark Stews . Probably because most of the ‘bathhouses’ were rented out to the Flemings by the Bishop of Winchester 😉

    From Ian Mortimer’s ‘The Time Travelers’s guide to Medieval England ‘

    An excellent read for any who are downcast by the human predicament in the 21st century 😉

  • Greenflag

    shane ,

    That may be -but I’d hazard a guess that any sloppiness by the BBC is far exceeded by the RC Church’s official communicators sloppiness in recent decades re their crimes against the people.

  • Greenflag, I agree. It was the decision of the inept Irish bishops to close their communications office – and then later complain when having been misrepresented.

  • Damian O’Loan

    There was no ‘gloss’ and no sloppiness, unless the Churches wish to discriminate on grounds other than homosexuality regarding employment.

    Do they Shane?

  • The various churches already do discriminate – not only on homosexuality – but also on gender. The Equality Bill changes nothing in that regard.

  • Driftwood


    Pat Robertson, like Paisley and the Pope are just telling the christian story honestly.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Not in regards to employment – only in regard to Ministries, and the government has offered to exclude Ministries completely.

    In regard to employment, which is all remaining at the time of the Pope’s words, the BBC report and the Jesuit’s ‘argument’, the only relevant identity is homosexuality.

    Incidentally, I don’t think that’s much of a defense anyway. Though it does stem from your “natural laws” again.

  • Ulick

    I see Splintered Sunrise makes an attempt to address what the Pope actually said rather than using what some people think he said for another knee-jerk reaction.

    Secular liberals feign shock that Pope doesn’t subscribe to secular liberalism

  • Framer

    Gordon has bent the knee and is acting on the Pope’s concern by today announcing he will not try to reverse last week’s Lords amendments to the Equality Bill on the exemption on the employment of gays and the transgendered in religious establishments and achools.

  • Paddy

    I had the misfortune to read The Guardian yesterday. (Lest we forget McGurk’s Bar and all that)

    Like Brian Walker, the offending hack mentioned he was anti Catholic by inclination and tradition but then he also did the “some of my best friends” routine.

    The British Labour government wil be kicked out next time round. This is a government that slaughtered Muslims in Iraq and helped israel slaughter more. It has wrecked the savings of retired Brits.

    Its former leader was allowed join the Catholic Church (shame on the Pope there).

    And, like the mepty vessels here, it proclaims its liberalism by picking on something that actually works.

    And, to Brian Walker, The Guardian and the bombers of McGurk’s bar: Anglicans, Muslims and others support the Catholic’s stance: first they came for the Catholics etc.

    But don’t worry: you and yours will never be in any danger.

  • Paddy

    What is your problem? I was christened Catholic, and was a Catholic.

    I do not believe any member of any church has the right to be treated differently from any other member of society.

    As for Tony Bliar, he had been a Catholic for years. The Catholic church is guilty of assisting his conspiracy. Shame on the Pope for not excommunicating him for constant, blatant lies.

    Before you start: its not being a Catholic thats a problem; Its Lying about not being one! If you cannot even tell the truth about your faith, what good are you?

  • Greenflag

    pippakin ,

    ‘If you cannot even tell the truth about your faith’,

    Don’t ask any questions and you’ll be told no lies seems to have been and still is the RC Church and indeed other Church’s preferred method of operation .

    Having a questioning flock is bad for revenue generation and makes all those fat bishops and cardinals and ministers and parsons look bad .

    Today in Iraq some very devout muslim’s consigned another lot of devout muslims to eternity to please Allah . Allah meanwhile has been busy killing hundreds of thousands of poor Haitians because their ancestors made a pact with Satan at least that’s what the famous American born again Pat Robertson says .

    These religious nut jobs are mostly harmless but now and again some rise above the harmless category and become a positive danger to society .

  • Greenflag

    You know it! I will never understand why we fall for such hypocritical gobshites. You would think we would learn, but we do it, we fall for the lies every time.

  • Greenflag

    pippakin ,

    Who is this we ? I gave up believing in the heaven magician when I was about 15 and I gave up on his /her/its representatives here on earth shortly after. Some day most of us will learn to accept that this is it -it’s not a dress rehearsal for anything else .It’ll be a while .

    Human beings are not entirely rational animals . Some like the gobshite Robertson mentioned above even revel in the irrational witness his comments re Haiti and his comments re gays circa 9/11 .

    Some of these born agains are worse than medieval christians or some present day fanatical muslims. At least the medievals had the excuse of being born into a time when much of the material world was not understood .

  • Greenflag

    I was really referring to the people who were so thick they believed Blair in two elections. Not me, not guilty, wasnt there and wouldnt have touched him with the proverbial barge pole if I was.

    Born Again Christians are always the worst. In a way they are like Bliar, take to it like a duck to water, and any lie that works will do.

    The inquisition was bad but it was small scale compared to what todays zealots are capable of.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The inquisition was bad ‘

    Freedom of conscience and belief was considered ‘heretical’ in medieval Europe . You have to remember that in those less enlightened days if you were ill and the physic recommended leeching (blood letting ) he also had to consult the astrologers for depending on your diagnosed nature , (sanguine , choleric , phlegmatic or whatever ) your treatment might have to be postponed until Saturn was in the right Constellation .

    People adhere to a religion for all kinds of reasons – many social – traditional – and for others comfort in old age . At the same time many have their private doubts and just hope for the best .

    I said ‘some’ of the born agains which means not all 😉

  • Greenflag

    I said some of the born agains which means not all.

    And some Popes were undoubtedly good Popes.

    As for the ‘physics’, first you had to be rich enough to afford such expertise. The majority would either have been left to die somewhere, or the village ‘wise woman’ would have tried, and she might well have helped, certainly she would have been at least as good as the ‘physic’ waiting for ‘Saturn’.

    Few things are ever absolute.