No Pope here either.

If Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Alois Ratzinger, was determined to visit those of his flock who reside in the Northern Irish territories (NIT) he would presumably be extremely well briefed as to which parts of Belfast it would be safe and sensible for him to drop in on.

He would also probably be discouraged from going walkabout, particularly in full regalia and might be well advised to apply some additional armour plating to his pope mobile depending on which side of the divided city he is passing through.

Ratizinger, is German, and will be well used to the concept of a divided city and indeed a divided country. And although the first pope was a Galilean and the previous one a Pole, for much of the time in between there has been quite a preponderance of Italians. It’s a healthy sign when a non Italian gets the job as Christ’s official representative on earth.

His advisers might well tell his holiness to give Northern Ireland a miss and head straight instead for the Southern Irish Territories (SIT) where Catholicism was given pride of place in the country’s constitution and his predecessor received such a rapturous reception in 1979.

Except of course it is not 1979. Since the pervious papal visit Catholic Ireland has changed fundamentally. Trust in the institution which the Pope represents has been completely shattered, not just by the never ending stream of horror stories of abuse, but also by the appalling attempts at damage limitation and cover-up.

No longer able to rely on the State for cover, with the Government and all political parties being moved by the public outrage, the church has to battle within an increasingly secular society to have its voice heard. And that is a battle it will struggle desparately to win having so profoundly undermined its own capacity to deliver any message of morality.

Having been through the Catholic school system myself (although I did not experience any abuse) and although a non believer now, I have considerable sympathy for the many excellent priests, brothers and nuns who unselfishly gave their lives to God and to the Irish people and I also have also considerable sympathy for those who put their faith in and trusted the Catholic Church.

But the real victims here are of course those vulnerable children who were entrusted to church care and betrayed in the most horrendous manner imaginable by an institution which was disastrously given the blind faith it required to carry out such nefarious activities.

So is it not time for ‘Catholic’ Ireland to say clearly and loudly, so it can be heard in the Vatican and on the Shankill Road – No Pope here Either?

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  • Brasco

    if the Queen can visit the South then surely those who still look to the Pope as head of their Church should have the right to see him here in the North…

  • Alan maskey

    Good point, Brasco. Much better than the “some of my best friends are Jewish” line.
    There are more Catholics in England than in Ireland and there are legions more in Poland, SE Asia etc. Ireland is a bit player and some Irish are fukll of their own importance. paddy Kavanagh summed it up well.

  • Rory Carr

    You don’t say, Alan, exactly how Paddy Kavanagh summed it up, but I do recall that he once declared that, “Every time I hear an Irishman deny his church I hear the cock crow thrice.”

  • Estimating the numbers

    “Catholics in the U.S. and Canada found a closer ratio, that 1.7 percent of the females and 3.3 percent of the males had been sexually abused in childhood by a priest.”

    1.2 billion catholics
    1.7% females abused = 10,200 000
    3.3% males abused = 19,800,000

    30,000,000 sexually abused in childhood by a priest.

  • abucs

    By Edward Pentin

    For all the concerns over protests and security, Benedict XVI’s state visit to Britain could well be one of his most successful and historically significant to date.

    The apostolic voyage, which the Holy Father is said to be eagerly looking forward to, begins Thursday, Sept. 16, with a reception given by Queen Elizabeth II at Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh, her official Scottish residence.

    Later that day, the Pope travels to Glasgow where he will celebrate an open-air Mass in Bellahouston Park, 175 acres of parkland and ornamental gardens three miles from the city center. A large crowd is expected in light of 30% of Glasgow’s population being Catholic and most of Britain’s Catholics living in the north.

    After a full day in Scotland, the Pope will then fly to London in the evening. His first engagement the following morning will be to St. Mary’s College in Twickenham, southwest London. St. Mary’s is one of Britain’s few Catholic universities, reputed to be the oldest in the country and renowned for its teacher training courses. There the Pope will meet with many youngsters from Catholic schools and, according to Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, will “reflect on the role of the Church in education” and share his vision for learning. He is also scheduled to hold a meeting there with leaders of different faiths.

    That evening he has what Archbishop Nichols describes as “three quite remarkable events” lined up in central London. The first is a visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Anglican primate’s official residence, Lambeth Palace. The second is a keynote speech to the United Kingdom’s political and cultural leaders in Westminster Hall. One of the most important buildings in London, adjoining the Houses of Parliament, it has been used since medieval times as a place for banquets and gatherings. But perhaps most famously it is the place where St. Thomas More, the patron saint of politicians who is greatly admired by Benedict XVI, was tried and condemned to death.

    The Pope will then pay a visit to nearby Westminster Abbey, the resting place of British monarchs and other important national figures as well as the traditional place of coronation. There he will join leaders of the country’s other Christian confessions for evening prayer. And in what promises to be an historic photo-opportunity, both he and the Archbishop of Canterbury will pray together at the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor, the English monarch and patron saint of the Royal Family, who built the first Westminster Abbey.

    The following day, Saturday, Sept. 18, he’ll journey to the Catholic Westminster Cathedral, about half a mile from the Abbey, where he is to celebrate Mass and meet the U.K.’s prime minister, deputy Prime Minster, and the leader of the opposition. A visit to a residential home for the elderly and a prayer vigil in Hyde Park is scheduled in the afternoon and evening. Then on Sunday, Benedict XVI will fly by helicopter to Cofton Park near Birmingham where he will celebrate the beatification of the Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman, also a figure he greatly admires. The park is just a short distance away from Cardinal Newman’s burial place in Rednal.

    According to Vatican sources, the British government is keen that the Pope address policy issues convergent with the Holy See such as tackling poverty and safeguarding the environment. But Benedict XVI is also likely to bring up some important concerns that tend to be sidelined in British public life such as protection of the unborn, the family and other life issues. “He will speak about these in a delicate way,” said one official, “and he will probably also do the same with the bishops.” However, he is not expected to directly address Britain’s recent controversial equality legislation as he voiced his concerns earlier this year, and will generally steer away from directly entering into politics.

    Although the visit will be a state one, Vatican officials are viewing it primarily in terms of its pastoral significance, and as “very important” for the country as a whole, not only for the Church. Britain has become one of Europe’s most secular countries — at least among its media elites — with a history of anti-Catholic prejudice dating back to the Reformation.

    But Vatican officials are not very concerned about planned protests. “They are possible,” said one official, “but the moment he arrives, things change very perceptibly.” He recalled that similar vociferous demonstrations were planned in Turkey, but everything changed when the Holy Father arrived there in 2006.

    Another official sees this as a particular gift of Benedict XVI. ”Every place he’s gone to, the media has been hostile in advance and then absolutely disarmed,” he said. “When people see him up close, they see he’s transparent, that he’s a holy man, and what you see is what you get, even though he’s extraordinarily shy.”

  • Rathcoolian

    Of course, im sure that rte can be picked up in most parts of ulster so any one that wants to watch can do so in the comfort of their state provided home.

  • ciscowen

    “Since the pervious papal visit” – was “pervious” an unfortunate typo, or a new adjective descibing clerical behaviour?

    Maybe the best thing would be to send him into a loyalist area and hope the his replacement would have realistic ideas regarding AIDS and birth control/the environment (the last two are inextricably linked).

    Having been through the Catholic school system myself (although I did not experience any sexual abuse) I am now a fervent atheist and hold the priests who taught me (one was the present Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Down and Connor, according to WIKI) as GIGO memories (Garbage In, Garbage Out, with no thought processes in between).

    Their behaviour was not sexually abusive like paedophilia, (it was physically abusive), but it surely has mentally scarred many people for life.
    Some are so scarred that they suppose their non-thinking to be normal. Of course they call this “faith”, not “non-thinking”.

    All religious education is child-abuse.

  • ciscowen

    Thank you for the Pope’s itinerary, it saved me from looking at “Papa Ratzi’s” facebook.
    Will this “Holy Father’s” concern for the protection of the unborn extend to the environmental impact of population explosion and their potential life quality and impact on our unique little planet?

    The Catholic concern is quantity over quality. They don’t care how the children live (they have none of their own, supposedly!).

    Does his concern for humanity say that condom use is better than sexually transmitting life-threatening fatal syndromes even to the unborn?

    If he were an Ayatollah would he be given such a fanfare?

    “No, no, no!”. It’s time to realise that the bible was written over 2KY ago by an ethic-cleansing, land-grabbing deluded people who thought they were god’s chosen. Everything after that has just been an excuse for war.

    Religion makes me sick! (Ex-catholic schoolboy)

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “Since the pervious papal visit” – was “pervious” an unfortunate typo, or a new adjective descibing clerical behaviour?

    Now both, thanks.

  • joeCanuck

    All of the attention has been focussed on the sexual abuse, rightly so, but there was great physical abuse as well. In my schools, rarely a day would pass without children receiving slaps on the hand by a leather strap, some of which had lead inserts. The number of slaps seemed to correlate with how hungover the priest was. Although mainly handed out by the priests, the lay teachers were not immune to the barbarity. Oh, you might say, you must have been an ill-disciplined lot. Far from it, the “crime” was invariably not knowing the answer to a question that the priest thought you should know.
    Still, the education wasn’t bad apart from the restricted curriculum (no biology for example) and I did go on to university.

  • The Pope does not just represent the nuns and priests. For all who believe he is Gods representative on earth. I personally have little time for the RCC and none whatsoever for a pope embroiled in child abuse scandals. Nevertheless I believe he, in his role as leader of the faithful, should be welcomed to any country he visits, and that includes Ireland, north and south. Those of us who hold the institution in contempt will just have to grit our teeth (again) and bear it.

  • Hello Slugger and crew,

    I am the proverbial horse’s mouth and I am now gifting you with the Vatican’s worst nightmare, now realized.

    The Vatican is being set up for a much bigger fall than most are expecting. Here’s an early peak. Some amazingly damaging information about pivotal religious assertions is about to become widely available and understood. This child abuse scandal is merely proof of their absolute lack of veracity, before the real controversy is unsealed.

    Following is a link to a draft-preview of my upcoming new book for parties like yourself, who are more likely to make good use of the information. The next update is due out later this month.

    Finishing the Mysteries of Gods and Symbols

    Peace and Wisdom,


  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I dont usually comment on “religious” stories.
    But perhaps worth pointing out that if a leading Islamist, Jewish or indeed Protestant clergyman were invited to Dublin by his “flock” it should be a cause of celebration for that “flock” and by extension those that wish that flock well.
    The rather obvious fact is that most Catholics (past and present) have had cause to be upset by clerics……might be serious abuse or likely as not sarcastic bullying.
    And its also a plain fact that many Catholics (past and present) have had cause to be grateful to a priest for perhaps just getting it right at a funeral or attendance of an elderly relative.

    Indeed among Catholics…priests are a subject of conversation. Often as not opinions will differ on just how good or nasty the local priest is….it all depends on individual dealings.

    Sean O’Casey captured it best in “Juno and the Paycock” when the Captain tells a bemused Joxer that the priests let the people down in the Famine….a few scenes later he is praising “Soggort Aroon Soggort Aroon” to an equally bemused Joxer.
    And thats how Irish Catholics are.

  • ciscowen

    So would you welcome an Ayatolloh who regards “stoning to death” as fair play?

  • ciscowen

    Thank you!
    It’s nice to get some appreciation or at least recognition that some of the “great-unwashed” can read and write too.

  • Failing any actual evidence of complicity in such a crime…And you have no idea how reluctantly…Yes, bearing in mind that I would no more welcome the pope than I would any Ayatolla People have the right to their faith. The problem here has been that for too long the RCC ruled the country in all but name. I believe those days are, if not quite gone, beyond any hope of recovery.

  • ciscowen

    Any pope’s message is a personalised opinion of how some dick-head-world shouild be..

    So you liked the romanised version of slavery?

    What about that bit about land-grabbing

    Excuse me!

    I have travelled around the world and can speak pure rubbish in at least 5 languages. It has taken me almost 30 years to even believe that I have a “bullshit-dectector”.

    If you want to meet we could have a laugh!

  • ciscowen

    What the F0ck do you believe in?
    You are an ego-tripper who thinks he’s smart.?
    So it seens, I can still learn, but can you teach me, don’t wke me up otherwise I might sound likr JH.
    Anyway, Piss off you middle class prentensious bastards!
    We all know where you came from!
    It was from dirty Irish nurses who felt constrained by by better looking bithches

  • ciscowen

    I believe this is the first time I have been accused of not being anti Catholic enough. You asked I answered. I hope you feel better when you wake up.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    At what point does ‘catholic’ Ireland (North and South) conclude that the church is something they are better off without – it is inconcievable that any other organisation with such a record of abuse and cover up would be tolerated or deemd to have an important role in Irish life.

    The behaviour of the church suggest is a clear case of instutionliased abuse where the selection process did not simply fail to detect potential abusers but was the career choice for many and the church developed mechanisms to keep abuse away from the relevant authorities both by political manipulation of the political system (in the control of social instittions) and also by moving the culprits around the country and internationally to avoid detection.

    This was in effect a conspiracy by the most sexually perverse section of society to abuse the most vulnerable children whilst the state negilently looked the other way.

    The chuch admitted it required faith to keep people onside with their unlikely message but their behaviour demanded, and received the complete gullibility and downright stupidity from their flock for this behaviour to continue for so long.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    As I say……I dont do posts on Religion and it was a slippery slope making the comment I made earlier.
    Am at a loss to understand how a Nation can declare itself better off without a particular religion. Make it illegal???
    We rightly condemn right wing bloggers with exaggerated fears of Islam or whatever.
    My consistent approach is that the Irish State has manifestly faled to assert the Primacy of the Republic and allowed a proxy monarchy (the Catholic Church) to exist within the State.
    In fairness many Republicans were ill at ease with this co-existence but recognised the “special position” of the Church. A compromise too far in my opinion.
    The current weakness of the Catholic Church provides an opportunity for the State to assert its Primacy. In fact the conditions have never been better.

    But whether or not the Pope visits Ireland is for his flock important. I wish them well.
    But it should properly be a matter of indifference to non Catholics.

  • abucs

    Thankyou for telling me your thoughts. I disagree with most of your presumptions however.

  • abucs

    I’m already laughing. Thanks.

  • Big Maggie


    I loved your “Papi Razi” :^)

    Even better than, from which I quote here. It’s an American slant on the pope’s crimes against children but it says what I want to say more eloquently than I can, so here it is:

    The speedy (unexpected and unpredicted) move of Obama to assert Benedict XVI’s political immunity in the USA almost quashing a US litigation against the Holy See shows that there will never be justice within the Catholic Church and within the Vatican. In fact, the Catholic Church is the safest haven for criminals who can simply come and go incognito in the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist. So for the victims of the John Paul II Pedophile Priests Army, they can only expect the rambling talks by the Pope and Cardinals and Bishops who are biding time for the world to forget this most heinous crime under the Holy See of John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger.

    The only justice Benedict XVI knows is silencing Jesuits like Jon Sobrino and Jacques Dupuis for criticising the hypocrisy of the papacy. Benedict XVI never silenced one pedophile priests or one Cardinal guilty of perpetuating priest pedophilia. Instead he promotes them like our own criminal Cardinal Bernard Law who aided and abetted more than 100 pedophile priests in Boston and is now sitting as Archpriest in Rome’s most prestigious basilica of St. Mary Major.

    The papacy is the only remaining feudal system in the world with its powerful Conference of Bishops and papal nuncios in every country. The Vatican Bank can still bribe and buy justice to cover up its own crimes as it has done for 2,000 years and this is shown in recent court ruling in favour of dioceses and pedophile priests and in Obama’s latest move to protect Benedict XVI’s political immunity in the USA.

  • Big Maggie

    ^ Papa Razi (Papi Razi sort of ruins the joke)

  • Big Maggie

    ^ Damn, it’s Papa Ratzi! I’ll get it right eventually :^)

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “The current weakness of the Catholic Church provides an opportunity for the State to assert its Primacy. In fact the conditions have never been better.”

    Yes I agree. But I suppose what is most disappointing though not suprising, is that there is not really a sense of outrage against the church as an institution but against individuals within the church – with Catohlic Ireland (ie the people) seemingly happy to continue on much as before without a groundswell of opinon demaning immmediate change.

    We certainly could do with being a little more self critical as you could argue we get the church we deserved for allowing the church to go unchallenged for far too long.

    In relation to Republicans and the Church, obvioulsy there are historical explanations, but the De Valera narrow version, which gained ascendancy, clearly damaged Republicanism and probably was not challenged, apart from the Clann na Poblachta period and then in the 1970s firstly by Official SF and then by Adams quasi Marxist line.

  • Spige

    There was a bad smell in my bedroom recently. I asked my ma what caused it. She said it was popery. I really couldn’t understand what she was going on about until she lifted a small bowl of dried, scented leaves. Oh, pot pourri, I said to her. Now I understand.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    while we can agree that the catholic church has never been in a weaker position……so that the State can impose its primacy…….there is unfortunately another part of the equation……namely that the Irish State has never been in a weaker position.
    The banking crisis in which the State was complicit has taken away some of the States cloak of legitimacy. And for nearly 40 years, the State has been handing over legitimacy to Yoorp. In doing so it has devalued the Republican and National ethos.
    Indeed it could be argued that the twin pillars of Irish identity ……nationality and catholicism have been hopelessly compromised by their respective scandals.France needed five attempts to get its Republic right. So did Russia. So did Germany. And USA needed a second revolution 90 years after its first Revolution.
    I would argue that we need a Second Republic……as the States institutions/constitution needs re-drawn… take account of the relationship with churches, the north, banking/capitalism and the nonsense that is Europe.
    Obviously it will take at least a generation before the changes needed are more apparent but Id suggest that its almost inevitable.
    Whether these changes are peaceful or violent..or part of a global meltdown or (hopefully) European breakdown …is questionable but almost inevitable.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    I agree about the weakness of the state – now is not a good time to be making enemies unless you are likely to gain financially – and privatising the church and selling their assets to foreign churches may be a tad unpopular with the populace. But finding a mechanism for the church to pay more for abuse in whatver way possible may well be popular. Not helping to save souls but helping to save the economy.

    But it is rather the people who seem to not have not been sufficently outraged to demand change from their politicians in relation to its relationship with the state.

    re. Europe, if now is not the time to be picking fights with the church it is certainly not the time to be picking fights with Euope. As we saw from the First Lisbon vote, we will only be challengng Europe when we think we can afford it and that appears to be some way off.