The coming Papal visit

As the media frenzy over this weeks visit to Great Britain by the Pope continues, further protests have emerged.  By far the highest profile protest is organised around the Protest The Pope website and includes organisation like the National Secular Society, the British Humanist Association, Atheism UK and Outrage as well as prominent atheist supporters like Richard Dawkings,  Peter Tatchell & Christopher Hitchens.  Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell hosts `The Trouble with the Pope` which airs on Channel 4 at 8pm, Monday 13 September and which has been condemned by the Bishop of Paisley.  Rallies are to be held on Thur 16th Sep, Edinburgh – Fri 17th Sep, Twickenham – Sat 18th Sept, London. The main issues seemingly being human / gay rights, contraception use, the child abuse scandals and the cost to the taxpayer of a State visit.

The Taxpayers Alliance has also criticised the cost of the Papal visit in times of heavy cuts to public services with recent surveys suggesting 77% of people opposed to a state funded visit.

At least three Catholic groups are also leading campaigns. Catholic Women’s Ordination has paid £15,000  to carry the message “Pope Benedict – Ordain Women Now!” for a month on buses along routes the Pope is set to visit! Newly formed Catholic Voices for Reform is a counter to the Catholic Voices website and supports the likes of Soho’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Catholic community and various other reforms to the Catholic Church.  Dr Margaret Kennedy from Minster and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors (MACSAS – strictly speaking non-denominational not RC) is urging Pope Benedict XVI to sanction an inquiry into abuses by British clergy.  They also held a conference on the 11th September entitled `We speak, you listen: Survivors speak and offer messages to Pope Benedict`.

The Protestant Churches have been much slower off the mark.  A growing list now includes the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster (including it`s Scottish congregations), The Protestant Truth Society, Evangelical Protestant Society, Christian Watch, The Free Church of Scotland (cont),  Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland and the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  The latter have released a new book entitled `Pope Benedict XVI and the United Kingdom`.  Many of these organisation are participating in the new Papal Protest website to co-ordinate activities, witness and prayer meetings.

Pope Benedict XVI and the United Kingdom

Pope Benedict XVI and the United Kingdom

The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland passed an official protest at its recent synod.

In a statement it said it finds “offensive that this visit results from an invitation to the Pope as Head of State, giving him that recognition and pretended legitimacy which he claims in opposition to the principles of the Reformation.”

“We deny that he is the head of the Christian Church or that he has any civil power which should receive recognition by any State, particularly one which has renounced his pretended jurisdiction.”

“We find it particularly offensive that this visit will commence in Edinburgh where, 450 years ago, under the brave and godly leadership of John Knox and our other Reformers, the jurisdiction of the pope was forever abolished.”

They also described the Papacy as “deceitful and unrighteous”,  highlighting recent global exposure of child abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, and suggesting the Pope was invlolved in a cover-up.

The Rev Professor Donald Macleod, who retired last month as principal of the Free Church College on The Mound, a leading Free Church of Scotland theologian suggests we should celebrate Knox, not the Pope and accused the Scottish Government of “airbrushing” the Protestant Reformation out of history while celebrating the visit by the Pope.

In his weekly column in the West Highland Free Press, Professor Macleod said: “On the face of things the forthcoming papal visit to Britain should be an unqualified publicity triumph, offering a heady mixture of theatre, religion and politics.

“It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the event was deliberately timed to clash with the 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation.

“Ironically the spoiling tactic has turned out to be entirely unnecessary. Our SNP Government has no intention whatever of acknowledging Scotland’s debt to the Reformation, and even less of honouring John Knox, the greatest of all our nation-builders, but now safely airbrushed out of our history.

“That he saved us from national economic ruin, laid the foundation of our national system of education and fired us with an aversion to tyranny, now counts for nothing. Our Government is in Knox-denial.

“Why does secular, humanist Scotland so warmly entertain Catholicism, with all its authoritarianism, and yet register terror at the mere mention of the religion of Knox?

The parade to welcome the Pope to Scotland is now due to include a John Knox character as well as Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charlie, William Wallace, St Andrew, Robert the Bruce, Eric Liddell, St Ninian, St Margaret, St Columba and Alexander Fleming.

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “It is a sign of a healthy nation that diversity within the Christian community is something to be celebrated as opposed to a source of division and struggle.

“It is a gift to those of us of a Protestant persuasion that by including this figure, the Catholic Church is contributing to the celebrations of the Reformation.”

A 60-strong delegation consisting of ministers and elders from Ian Paisley`s Free Presbyterian Church will travel to Scotland (from Northern Ireland) this week to protest against the Pope’s visit.  Lord Bannside (as Rev Dr Ian Paisley is now known) will be in attendance:

“We will be having a meeting in the place where the church of Scotland was formed (Magdalen Chapel, Edinburgh) and was presided over by John Knox. That building will be at our disposal.

“We will unfurl a banner and have a public meeeting outside that building in the Grassmarket.

On Saturday 11th Sep, the Free Presbyterian Church took out a half page ad in the News Letter and published a booklet to explain their reasons behind the protest:
Papal Visit: Roman Catholicism examined by Scripture

At the weekend, the Reverend Ron Johnson challenged other Protestant church leaders to join their protest.

“We’re simply re-stating the creeds of the historical Protestant churches”, the current Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church told UTV.

“Really every Protestant church in Northern Ireland ought to be supporting our stand. Sadly I know all ministers will not – but they’re going against their ordination vows.”

The Free Presbyterian Moderator criticised the decision by the Moderator of the Irish Presbyterian Church to accept an invitation to attend a service involving the Pope. He told BBC NI Sunday Sequence : ” I was going to say it shocks me, but I suppose it doesn’t. I think it is very sad that he would go to such a thing. The Pope claims that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is a false church. He claims that we should recognise him as the head of all Christians. And surely the Westminster Confession that Mr Hamilton signed is totally opposed to the teachings of Rome. Both can’t be right: either Romanism is right or the New Testament is right.”

At Sunday Services the Free Presbyterian Churches conducted a series of sermons about the errors of Roman Catholicism or on the Protestant Reformation.

The Reformed Presbyterian church Of Ireland issued a statement saying:

“We must express our dismay and sorrow at the proposed visit of Benedict XVI to the UK.

We regard his claim to be the `Vicar of Christ on earth` as false and eternally ruinous to those who are deceived by it and who put their trust in it. We hold no ill will to the Roman Catholic community.  On the contrary, we desire their highest and everlasting good in being brought to faith in the `one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2 v5). Only in this way can any of us go to heaven instead of hell.

We consider this proposed visit to be a further instance of the United Kingdom turning from the true Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ.  We believe the Lord will continue to be against the nation until there is a general turning from our current love of false religions, unbelief and wrong morals to seek God`s forgiveness through Christ.

It is the prayer of our church that God would bring about that change by his Holy Spirit”.

Whilst the Rev Ron Johnstone, Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster moderator and Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order) said:

“We publicly disassociate ourselves from and condemn those church leaders who will welcome and meet him.

He also criticised the “false doctrines of the papacy” and added, “By their actions they not only give credence to his spurious claims — but are betraying the very creeds they once professed to believe, teach and defend. As reformed evangelical Protestants we totally reject the arrogant and, more importantly, unscriptural titles and claims of the Pope. Those claims, historically viewed as blasphemous by Protestant churches, mean that his visit can not be construed as simply pastoral”.

Speaking of the planned protests, Rev Johnstone said: “We intend, in the coming weeks, to highlight the contrast between the teaching of scripture and the false doctrines of the papacy. Our supreme aim and overriding concern is to exalt the only King and head of the church, the Lord Jesus Christ.We will therefore, at this time, call all people to a personal faith in the Saviour as the only mediator between God and men”.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland issued a statement in March which called for peaceful protest & witness against the visit as well as promotion of the 450th anniversary of the Scottish Reformation.

The Orange statement claimed the teaching of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church is at “total variance with the Biblical message that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone”.

It went on: “We therefore call on all the citizens of the United Kingdom, and especially members of the Loyal Orange Institution, to demonstrate their opposition to the Pope’s visit to England and Scotland, and to oppose any future invitation to visit Northern Ireland.

“At the same time, we call on all members of the Loyal Orange Institution to refrain from any uncharitable acts or sentiments against our Roman Catholic fellow countrymen.

“Furthermore, we urge all members of the Institution to examine their own relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, to make sure that they have a saving faith in him.”

Grand Master of the Scottish Orange Order is quoted as saying:

“The Pope is no friend or supporter of the religious, democratic and libertarian principles that the Order believes in, so we don’t regard his visit as a particularly welcome development.

“That said, we are conscious of our civic duty to be respectful of the sincerely held views of others. This isn’t our party, so we intend to keep our noses out of it.

“We shall be concentrating our energies instead on marking the 450th Anniversary of the Scottish Reformation.”

It has since emerged that the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland may hold a small token silent witness which would likely take place at one end of Princes Street and will carry a banner commemorating the Scottish Reformation, whilst the Independent Orange Order in Scotland will hand in a petition to the Scottish Parliament on the day of the visit (Holyrood Palace where the Pope will meet the Queen is nearby).

No doubt many will object to the idolatrous praying over the bones of St Andrew

The Issue: Future of Christian Churches in Ireland – UTV Video Tuesday 14th September on UTV. Broadcast on the eve of the Pope’s visit to Glasgow, the programme will feature Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop Ken Clarke, Reverend Lesley Carroll, Pastor Lindsay Allen and Baroness Nuala O’Loan exchanging views and taking questions from an invited audience at the Navan Centre in Armagh. also with contributions from Cardinal Brady, Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Alan Harper, Church of Ireland Primate, Reverend Paul Kingston, President of the Methodist Church and Reverend Stafford Carson, Former Presbyterian Moderator.

The Pope`s British Divisions – BBC Radio 4 – iplayer

The Trouble with the Pope – Channel 4 Video

What reception will Pope Benedict XVI get in Britain? – BBC Video

What sort of Pope is Benedict XVI? – BBC Video

Papal visit debate – Revelation TV

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  • Arnold

    I’m struggling to take Peter Tatchell and the rest of his No Popery coalition very seriously when they rail against the Pope for his alleged hatred and failure to protect children. Let’s not forget that it was Tatchell who, in 1997, wrote to The Guardian that:

    The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy. While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.

    Catholic prelates may have handled cases of child abuse extremely poorly in the past (as did most institutions, cf. state care homes, councils, etc.), but even Newsweek have admitted that priests are less likely to be child abusers than the average man in the street. In the meantime, even in the late ’90s Tatchell was still pushing the wicked and disgusting lie that children of the age of nine can consent to, and enjoy, sex with adults.

  • Mark McGregor

    You do know many of the people/groups you link at the start would find your protesting protestant groups equally objectionable?

    The irrational protesting against the illogical has a certain irony about it.

    Anyhoo, enjoy your protest and enjoy the rest of your year complaining about protests over displays of religious identity.

  • bill berry

    I wonder just what the credibility of Peter Tatchell is in these documentaries. He clearly comes from a position of bias- a gay rights campaigner rather than a human rights one as he suggests and as a former failed parliamentary candidate has clearly pursued his chosen career at making a living paid for by the rest of us. He has ended up a working for the media as a lot of failed election candidates do..

    I have no sympathy with the doctrinnaire, antiquated and often rediculous dogma proposed by the Catholic church and feel that if UK Catholics want to see the Pope they should pay for his visit. To hand this important debate to Mr Tatchell, however, does not do it justice. Should he not get a real job?

  • Archie Noble

    Hello, this my first post here.

    Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell hosts `The Trouble with the Pope…. the main issues are human / gay rights, contraception use, the child abuse scandals..

    That would be the same Peter Tatchell who was published in the Guardian on 26th June 1997 saying

    “ROS Coward (Why Dares to Speak says nothing useful, June 23) thinks it is “shocking” that Gay Men’s Press has published a book, Dares To Speak, which challenges the assumption that all sex involving children and adults is abusive. I think it is courageous.

    The distinguished psychologists and anthropologists cited in this book deserve to be heard. Offering a rational, informed perspective on sexual relations between younger and older people, they document examples of societies where consenting inter-generational sex is considered normal, beneficial and enjoyable by old and young alike.

    Prof Gilbert Herdt points to the Sambia tribe of Papua New Guinea, where all young boys have sex with older warriors as part of their initiation into manhood. Far from being harmed, Prof Herdt says the boys grow up to be happy, well-adjusted husbands and fathers.

    The positive nature of some child-adult sexual relationships is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy.

    While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.”

    Child abuse in the Catholic Church, or anywhere, is a great crime. I understand that the current Pope is attempting to deal with causes as well sanction the abusers. No doubt its uphill work but I cannot see Peter Tatchell’s views helping.

    I think the papal visit will pass off without incident most people in the UK do not care oneway or another. The airtime given to the opposition is suprising though and Tatchell is a bizzare choice of frontman. No doubt those who are more media savvy will be able to shed some light.

  • It is as if all the fringe groups are seizing the opportunity while the RCC is wounded. Not that I have any time at all for the RCC but there is something bullying and distasteful about the combined protests.

  • tacapall

    Yes Pip quite right, an old fashioned stoning, hopefully they’ll close the door to the middle ages on the way out.

  • tacaapall

    I suspect these protesters are not as much concerned for the victims of abuse as they are for getting publicity for their many and varied causes.

  • Jean Meslier

    “..Oh what a circus, oh what a show…”

    Don’t waste your time bringing logic to this ongoing farce.

    I didn’t even read the full post, although I glimpsed phrases such as…. `Vicar of Christ on earth` as false and eternally ruinous…. ,“false doctrines of the papacy”…and… idolatrous praying over the bones of St. Andrew.

    Fine detailed words which are as mad as what will be espoused at the same Vicar of Christ’s “special” masses.
    No doubt someone will experience a “miracle” and all the devout taigs will fork out the demanded £25, buy the baseball hats and luminous statues, and the Reformers/Prods will be seething with righteous indignation Zzzzzzzzz.

    Moving to a slight variation, I see that less than a third of the tickets sent to the faithful in Ireland were purchased!!
    Here’s a thought, – there could actually be more Free Presbyterians travelling to Britain to protest than devout Irish Catholic idolaters.!!?
    Maybe the times ARE A CHANGING after all.

    Could someone tell the reformed brethern who are pulling down the An Dún flags around Kilkeel that these hold no reverence to Mr. Ratzinger, although I’m sure his previous membership of the Hitler Youth might have a few former members of C Company unzipping their trousers.

  • HeinzGuderian

    I suspect Pip,these many and varied groups,have more concern for the victims of paedophile priests,than the representative on earth,of the invisible Sky Daddy !!

  • tacapall

    Wonder when they’re going to protest when Stephen Hawkin’s around. Is it socially acceptable for a prominent scientist who’s views on the non existence of God to be publically aired without being subjected to these type of protests, but someone who believes he’s Gods representitive on earth is subjected to mass protests and internet campaigns by people still stuck in the belief that they are right, so protest because yer man has different views than them around God. – Alice in wonderland stuff.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Well they could hardly have less, but it must be remembered that the RCC was not alone in abusing children. Various Protestant institutions have also been accused.

    All that needs to happen is for governments to treat the all religious organisations in exactly the same way as any other profit making company and make them answerable to the law. Insisting on all evidence being handed to the police would be a good start.

    In the interim those who believe are entitled to their faith, there are many good priests and vicars and very many good believers.


    Hawking is as entitled to his beliefs as anyone. Personally, when it comes to faith, I don’t see how his belief can be more relevant than anyone else’s. I doubt such protesters would get as much publicity from objecting to Hawkings, and that would make their protests worthless to them.

  • Archie Noble

    Um Heinz, Do you think Peter Tatchell does?

    Surely “Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of nine to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy” indicates a different view. .

    Most people concerned about abused kids would not say that.

  • @Mark – Yes indeed, many of the Protestant groups have alot in common with Catholicism with regards issues like abortion, stem cell research, secularism, definition of marriage etc

  • The following gives a present day view and understanding of the experience of survivors of clergy abuse and the continuing cover up.

    Be shocked by the global estimates of the numbers of those sexually abused by Catholic clergy.

  • HeinzGuderian

    I thought we were talking about the Holey Papa here Pip ??

    I care not a fiddlers F what denomination is accused of raping little children. It saddens me to see you make that distinction !!

    They can believe whatever the Hell they like. But when their top man visits these shores I DEMAND,nay,EXPECT and DEMAND,that he is taken to task over this vile abuse !!!

    ‘Bullying and distasteful’,you say…………….try asking the victims of these monsters about distasteful bullying !!! 🙁

  • slappymcgroundout

    So, the piece starts off as news, then ends up as manifesto. I don’t otherwise care about the theological disputation, I mean, you might as well be talking about the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. And so, Kilsally, if you wish to protest, you might hold up this picture, with the legend underneath reading, This Man Is Our Pope:

    And your shirt can be found here:

    Lastly, you can hand this piece over to Mr. Dawkins:

    By the way, the quote from the emeritus Cardinal Archbishop is in response to Pope Paul VI asking him, what do you tell me about Dom Helder?

    Almost forgot:

    For social activists, who struggle against the underlying causes of poverty and oppression, Mother Teresa of Calcutta always presented a problem. Her undeniable holiness made it difficult to criticize this saint of the poor. Yet her refusal to address the systemic injustices that engender the poverty she strove to alleviate never failed to disturb those whose vocation lies precisely in confronting those structures.

    Dom Helder Camara solved this dilemma for many of us more than 20 years ago at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia. During the course of a conference he gave on that occasion, the archbishop—renowned as a voice for the voiceless—spoke of his desire to meet Mother Teresa. Dom Helder said that day (and I paraphrase): “I hope to have the opportunity to encounter Mother Teresa and kiss her hands in acknowledgement of what she and her sisters do for the poor of the world. However, a much more difficult and much less understood vocation is that carried out by those who ask: ‘Why are the Mother Teresas of this world necessary?’”

    That being said, the theological disputation is but hot air. As the one soul so aptly wrote, commenting on John 13:31-35:

    It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t even say that people will know you are my disciples by the correctness of your doctrine. He says they will know by your love.

    As I said, your and their disputation is just so much hot air. As I remarked re Calvin in another piece here on Slugger, Calvin’s murder of Servetus pretty much says it all. Ditto Knox, ditto Luther, ditto more than a few Popes, ditto just about everybody who came to us in sheep’s clothing but was inwardly a ravenous wolf. And we know them by their fruit (and not their doctrine or dogma).

  • HeinzGuderian

    I make no distinction between perverts but I suspect some of the protesters may.

    You may not have noticed but the Pope has diplomatic immunity. He will not be arrested, wherever he goes.

    The RCC has thousands of devout believers, all completely innocent, in these islands. The Pope is the embodiment of their faith. He may, possibly, be accused of assisting in the cover up of child abuse, but as far I know he has not been accused of abusing anyone.

    The RCC and the Protestant church were not the only ones who covered up the abuse of children. Some governments, especially on these islands, were just as guilty.

  • Alan maskey

    The dying Hitchens (filthy habit, smokng cigarettes) as wll as wanna be academic radical Dawkins have books to sell. The Ordain Priests movement have obviously money to burn; the Anglo Catholics will love that. Remind me what is the motivation of the others.

  • Kathy C

    I have a couple of questions…

    Does anyone know if Atheism UK also protests the queen because she is the head of the church of england. If they don’t protest that head of church…then it would seem the Atheism UK group is anti-Catholic not anti-religion.

  • slug

    The Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has taken the following approach:

    “Dr Hamilton has changed his travel plans and will be present at this service but has not accepted an invitation to meet with the Pope.

    “I consider it is important to attend the service in Westminister Abbey so as to be able to pay appropriate respect to the devout Roman Catholic people of Ireland and the leader of their church and was glad to change my travel plans to make this possible,” said Dr Hamilton.

    “Attending this Church of England service does not conflict with my beliefs and I remain totally committed to the reformed faith which my Christian ministry has and will continue to consistently proclaim.

    “I have however declined the invitation to be presented to the Pope. Such an occasion inevitably has a lot of symbolism attached to it and, in the brief time available, could not be the substantive discussion I would welcome about the many issues that concern us here in Ireland.”

    This seems a very resonable position, one I am happy with as a Presbyterian.

  • slug

    I am sure they do. Honestly you seek incredibly paranoid !

  • Greenflag

    Dr Hamilton should be a politician with diplomatic skills like that 🙂
    Making his point to all sides without being offensive . I would’nt shake Queenie’s hand either 😉

  • fin

    its not that long ago that Gordon Brown apologised to the tens of thousands of people who the government had exported over several decades to Oz and Canada where many where sexually abused and/or used as slave labour, I think the Catholic Church has a long way to go match HMG in the kiddie fiddling stakes,

  • Rory Carr

    I’m afraid, Greenflag, that if you had listened this today noontime to Dr Hamilton’s interview with Will Crawley on Radio Ulster you would not be so impressed by any display of diplomatic skills on his behalf. Rather you would have listened to a display of evasion and forked-tongue duplicity that (as you have suggested) would have made the good Moderator an excellent candidate for political careerism. But, judge for yourself, listen to it here (there seems to be a few seconds of the end of Gerry Anderson playing “Someone’s knocking at the door” just before the progamme starts):

  • The only problem with that is most of the children were ‘exported’ in the care of one or other of the major churches.

  • Greenflag


    Impressed ? Where did I say impressed ? As a matter of course I expect evasion and fork tongued duplicity from the clerics high ranking or otherwise of all denominations in NI and ROI and the UK . From the mad mullahs and rabbis of the Middle East I expect the kind of religious intensity and fanaticism that one associates with the European later Middle Ages or the present day ‘nutters’ of America’s ‘prosperity’ evangelists and gospelers :

    Dr Hamilton found himself between the proverbial rock and hard place and acquitted himself reasonably well I thought. I think the man/Moderator’s long record of community outreach in NI will ensure that his position on this issue will be if not completely understood by NI RC’s and some within his own church and others at least it’ll be respected . In the present circumstances surrounding papal decisions regarding the RC Church hierarchy in Ireland I’m not sure I’d even want to shake the Popes hand 🙁

    When you get down to the theological nuances and number of angels on the head of a pin nitpicking -all of the churches ‘trip ‘ themselves up over the ‘irrationalities ‘ that are inherent in their belief systems be it the lunacy of clerical celibacy , the nuttinness of the doctrine of transubstantiation or the pentecostalist being saved by ‘Grace’ alone and not by works .

    As one of the happily non saved I can only look upon all of this high falutin nonsensical shitology as one threadster put it (Granni trixie ) I think of bald men fighting over combs 🙁

    Hamilton’s not a bad egg and neither was Newell . Both streets ahead of some of their Catholic clerical equivalents who have lets face it been forced into ‘resignation’ for deeds.

    Again for those who haven’t yet understood how the RC Church operates . It is NOT a democracy . The Presbyterians change their Moderator as frequently as some ladies of the night used to change their underwear in Victorian times 🙂

  • Greenflag


    ‘ I think the Catholic Church has a long way to go match HMG in the kiddie fiddling stakes,’

    I doubt it . Look at the numbers and the populations . RC Church has been in business (and religion ) at least 1800 years approx serving a population of probably tens of billions since Constantine’s time .

    HMG has been in operation less than 400 years (in the parliamentary sense dealing with a population of less than maybe three hundred millions in all of that time .

    The RC Church was always against ‘transparency’ . As a secretive top down led bureaucracy they were never keen on the plebs knowing too much .. The mumbo jumbo of naming saints and blesseds etc and the blessing of relics as being sufficient to win the allegiance of the masses might have worked in medieval times and up to quite recently in Europe but it’s now passe !

  • Big Maggie


    We could continue ad nauseam taking pot-shots at the supernaturalists and their (baa-baa!) flocks but what would be the point? They’ll be there long after our deaths, still declaiming their bullshit.

    When I was younger I looked up to older people, imagining that they were wiser than I. Life has disabused me of that foolish notion.

    BTW not so happy about your slur on Victorian prostitutes. I suspect that their johns changed their underwear far less frequently.

  • Rory Carr


    I suspect that if you are au fait with the underwear-changing routine of the clients of Victorian prostitutes there are very few people extant (with the possible exception of myself) who are so old that you might have to consider whether or not they might be wiser than you.

    In any case since we all regard you as the Wise Woman of Slugger Wood the point is moot.


    I inferred that Dr Hamilton’s remarks had impressed you from your reference to him, “Making his point to all sides without being offensive.” I do apologise if I got that wrong. I am sure that Dr Hamilton will likewise be crestfallen to learn that you are not really a fan. Good job then that he has in all likliehood been preordained to enter heaven – by which I mean the Christian concept of a post-life paradise and not the earthly (and rather earthy) gay nightclub in London.

  • Greenflag

    ‘not so happy about your slur on Victorian prostitutes’

    Fair enough how about Father Jack Hackett’s laundry basket ?

    ‘When I was younger I looked up to older people’

    Indeed and the men of the cloth (all denominations ) and the local banker ,judges and solicitors and elected politician etc .

    Nowadays your common criminal or burglar or even prostitute somehow don’t seem to be half as lacking in basic ethics or morality as our erstwhile role models .

    But I read the Icelander’s in a return to the spirit of popular democracy have decided to bring their former government (the one that negligently sold the arctic island into perdition ) to face charges of criminal negligency 😉

    I’m not sure if they have yet ordered the requisite number of guillotines from the French for the day of judgement .

    Perhaps when they finish we in Ireland and the UK /USA might want to follow on and learn from their example ?

  • padraig

    T’was witches all Souls Eve
    and from the very bowels of the trembling earth
    emerged goblins, spectres, ghosties and and ghoulies.
    Little enough they had in common but their bitter spite
    And with growls and snuffling, shrieks and growls,
    They filled their spectral site.
    Odd balls and head the balls, queer balls, faling over balls,
    A witches bedlams blast.

  • Greenflag

    Big maggie ,

    ‘imagining that they were wiser than I. ‘

    When they tell you that they have 20 or 40 years experience its no harm and probably to be recommended to in some cases take that as a couple of years experience followed by 18 or 38 years experience of repeating the same mistakes 🙁

    Our theological ‘experts’ simply don’t know no matter their denomination . Unlike a decent carpenter or technician or rocket scientist or bricklayer who usually increase their vocational expertise over time alas the same cannot be said for clergymen , economists , or politicians or mandarins or financial advisors etc who all merely improve their ability to open their mouths and expound at great length for hours at a time while promising everything , delivering the opposite and disappearing over the hill with all your dosh 🙂 ?

  • Greenflag

    There are those whom all the world extols
    And those whom we despise ,
    The first we credit them with Truth,
    The rest we deem them liars:
    The first are on the side of Right
    They’re noble and they’re pure :
    The others on the side of Wrong
    The criminal and whore.
    And so we draw a simple line
    Betwixt what’s wrong and right .
    And we learn to make a simple choice
    Between the Black and White.

    The Barons of the Daily Press
    And the pulpet thumping priest
    All help our ready reckoning
    Of the ‘mighty’ and the ‘least’:
    But the printed page may tell a lie
    In it’s haste to hang a man ,
    And I’ve seen the bulge of belly greed
    Beneath the black soutane !
    For silken gowns are splendid things
    To shroud a vice within ,
    While a poor man’s tattered shirt
    Can scarce conceal his sin

    And I’ve seen the hint of holiness
    In a harlot’s helpless guile,
    And I’ve spied the glint of lust
    In a Pharasaic smile .
    So I do not wish to be a judge –
    For I’ve troubles of my own-
    And Jaysus knows I’d never wish
    To cast the sharpest stone
    I’m coloured blind twixt black and white
    Don’t know where to draw the lines
    Between the good -between the bad
    When the man above declines

    The above from Vinnie Caprani erstwhile Dub and compiler of Rowdy Rhymes and Recimitations or a doggerel for a departed Dublin 😉

  • Greenflag

    There are no goblins no ghosties and if you believe in witches then you won’t when you grow up 😉

  • HeinzGuderian

    Archie…….you seem to have an unhealthy interest in Peter Tatchell ??

    I could have sworn this thread was about the Holey papa’s visit to the United Kingdom ?

    Do YOU think HE has questions to answer over the cover up of child rape ? Or will you take the Pip view,’ meh,it happens in other religions/organisations…….so what’.


  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘They sent us wolves in sheeps clothing’.

    Paedophile priests,sent to Africa,to cover up their heinous crimes…..:-(

  • Archie Noble

    Heinz my interest in Peter Tatchell is limited to the fact that his published belief that “it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.” makes him a bizzare and inappropriate figurehead for a campaign against the Pope’s visit that is centred on the issue of abuse of kids by priests.

    Clear enough I hope and on topic.

  • Greenflag

    And now for the lighter side of missionary activity as related in this epistle to the Canadians 🙂 v=R3UL_uCNWCo&feature=relate

  • Greenflag


    try this

  • fin

    As I understand it Pip, the children were exported by the civil service and distributed mainly to farms as slave labour and sexual playthings, many of the children being told they were orphans when in fact they weren’t. Cue HMG being shocked to learn that over 50 years thousands and thousands of kids had suffered. Imagine that, who’d have thought that handing a child to a farmer in rural Oz with no questions asked might not be a good idea

  • fin

    “HMG has been in operation less than 400 years (in the parliamentary sense dealing with a population of less than maybe three hundred millions in all of that time .”

    But when ruling India it was that amount and more, the enforced famines in India at the end of the 19th century killed 40-60 million, presuming many were children, a 100 years later and the Iraq sanctions killed 500,000 children.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    So Terry Pratchett and Stephen Fry and 48 others have signed an open letter objecting the State Visit of the Pope.
    On a personal basis I couldnt care less who visits Britain ……but odd that The Emperor Hirohito visited Britain without objection except from Duke of Edinburgh and the like….and they were regarded as bigots by liberals.
    Likewise Gerry Adams can visit Downing Street without censure ….

    How many Batallions has the Pope?

  • English Republic

    This visit seems to be causing almost as much controversy in Ireland as it is in the countries that he is actually visiting this week! I can’t speak for Scotland but in this country it is the cost of this visit which is the main objection for the vast majority of people. We are all being told to tighten our belts yet the government are quite happy to spend OUR money to pay for this visit, yet the Catholic Church (along with many other religious organisations) have vast wealth themselves. Is it not enough that we have to pay for one religious figurehead who also doubles up as an un-elected head of state whilst sitting on huge wealth that us plebs can only dream of?

  • Im a bit surprised that, apparently, liberal people are joining in the campaign against the Popes visit. Looks a bit like a double standard to me.

  • Nunoftheabove

    Sorry Pip, where’s the double standard ?

  • tacapall

    Of course, its all about money, the cost to the taxpayer, Im sure the royal family will be glad to hear that, how many of them recieve enormous amounts of us plebs money, paid for by people who have no say in the matter its just robbed from the plebs purse, oh and what about the cost to the public purse of the occupation of Iraq and Afganistan do we have a say in that either. Sure its all about money …….

  • Nunoftheabove

    it seems to me that the abuse scandals have taken second place to other arguments.

    The victims have every right to object to the visit and/ or to demand meetings. but it seems to me the liberals are taking advantage of the scandal, far from fighting for victims they are pursuing an anti religion, anti catholic agenda.

    The RCC does have millions of believers and a couple of million of them live in these islands, why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to see the pope.

    A liberal should not be selective about who has the right to speak or visit.

  • Nunoftheabove

    The British queen, whose position I am opposed to, doesn’t tell her ‘followers’ (and they’d likely not listen to her even if she did, let’s be fair – sure her son’s a big fan of Islam) that she’s christ’s representative on earth, nor does she insist on her own fallibility and doesn’t tell us that aids is bad but condoms are worse. She hasn’t for example insisted to parents of dead children that their souls are in limbo and then…just decide that that probably wasn’t true after all. Neither has she personally and knowingly presided over and perhaps the most widespread pederast network in legal history globally.

    The position of Mrs Windsor the – whether as british queen or head or the anglican church – may be preposterous and it’s certainly objectionable – but it’s just simply not on a power with the sinister role which Mr Ratzinger’s occupying.

  • chris farrell

    why all this fuss about the papal visit we have hade to pay for years for orange walks police bills for a lot of idiots who walk to hounour a man king billy who was a catholic mercenery

  • Nunoftheabove


    Why shouldn’t they, the catholic church is profoundly anti-liberal and its malevolent influence in this and many other societies has caused and continues to cause untold misery, pain, child rape and death. Even british liberals aren’t that apathetic to the role of Mr Ratzinger and the very least they can do is protest his presence and challenge – not long or loudly enough for my taste – the position of organized religion in this and other states.

    I’m not saying he shouldn’t come visit, if I was Pm I’d counsel against it and feel an obligation to my citizens to protest that. I object to paying taxes to facilitate that visit and object very strongly to his right to visit without the right to strong protest. I’d personally prefer he was collared by the cops at the airport but, this time at least, won’t I’m afraid happen.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Historically there is a link between an aspect of liberalism and anti Catholicism. In many ways this is because Catholicism is presented (not least by the Catholic Church) as illiberal in itself
    Many “liberals” would see Cromwell as a great English liberator with a tendency to fanatical genocide airbrushed out.
    In the 1680s Whigs were afraid of Catholicism….after all the Glorious Revolution is effectively the basis of British Democracy.
    If you look at cities in particuarly south Lancashire (old Liberal Party heartland) there was a lot of anti Catholic bigotry. Liberalism allied to Methodism… a recurring theme in court cases in Manchester (drunkeness, illegal gambling) and Catholics were/are perceived as enemies of Science and Reason and the betterment of Society.
    Ironically one of the better references to the Catholic position in Manchester is the (awful) Eamonn Dunphys book on Matt Busby..”A Strange Kind of Glory”.

    There was always a feeling that Catholics must prove themselves more loyal….it goes back to Tudor times….and integrated.
    After all the Reformation was the triumph of a new Reason.

    Ironic that so many Catholic soldiers are dying in Afghanistan…but its ok to salute their sacrifice and simultaneously mock their beliefs.

  • Nunoftheabove

    No, no chance he will be arrested, and he will be minus a cardinal, who obviously wouldn’t know child abuse if he tripped over it, but has no difficulty recognising and condemning atheism as aggressive.

    The thing about being liberal is you should not condemn something like a papal visit just because you don’t believe in the RCC or religion generally. The fact that the RCC is one of the most conservative organisations in the world has nothing to do with it.

  • tacapall

    Lets not forget robbing them of their money for the head of their church whos army are involved in murdering men women and children on a daily basis, but thats for the betterment of mankind, just not the ones who dont agree with their version of morality.

  • FJH

    Surely it must mean something that everyone has moved on.

    Britain is one of the least religious countries in the world and liberals are forever proclaiming the right of this or that group.

    To me it just reeks that some of them are now declaring that millions of people cannot see the leader of their chosen faith and it is their choice to make.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Why introduce their beliefs to their military record, not sure what the ‘but’ is about there but certainly can’t see any irony in it. A christian can behave morally just as much as an atheist can be immmoral and vice versa. And sure why shouldn’t catholic beliefs be mocked ?

  • Nunoftheabove


    Agree that sadly he won’t be arrested. Another time, one might hope. Don’t agree (not that I’m a liberal anyway, mind) that this guy should be given a bye-ball on what he represents simply because he claims to be something he can never possibly prove and does it hiding behind this ridiculous and long outdated cheap dishonest taboo around not criticising people of ‘faith’. He can come if he likes, I don’t see why I should help pay for it and if he (or his ‘flock’) thinks he’s entitled not to be challenged when he gets to the UK thenhe’s out of his mind; indeed, that might well be reason enough to protest in itself. Protest is the very least a self-respecting society can register to this dangeous and discredited person and a good deal of the sinister garbage he believes in.

  • Nunoftheabove


    The only people deliberately targeting civilian muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan right now are other muslims. I object to my taxes going to the spongers of the British royal family just as much as I do paying for Mr Ratzinger to visit – doesn’t need to be either/or.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Incidentally is it Dunphy you think is awful or the book (which I enjoyed !)…or both ?!

  • tacapall

    Oh yeah Nunoftheabove I forgot about those bombs they used during their various sorties, those bombs only kill muslim terrorists, amazing technology, is that the same ones they used in Dresden.

  • tacapall

    Im disappointed there are some people who think the bombing of Dresden what such a terrible deed, particularly when compared to the horrific atrocities carried out by the Nazis.

    The eagerness to find something to beat the Brits with exposes a willingness to overlook or even find excuses for atrocities on a scale not seen before or since the 2nd world war.

    You want to complain, complain about Auschwitz, Belsen, Riga, Treblinka and so on.

  • Nunoftheabove


    If you have a reasonable basis for challenging my point then by all means make it. I repeat, in Iraq, of the civilian killings that are currently going on, the vast bulk of them are not being undertaken by the US or british or other western forces, they’re being undertaken by other muslims; deepy sectarian, homophobic, totalitarian, racist imperialists (sic) who are so offended by the prospect of democratic government that they’re killing civilians in large numbers in an attempt to restore the blessed liberation of Saddamist Baathism or some variant of it.

  • Nunoftheabove

    English Republic

    Quite right; no shortage of tax dollars when it comes to Ratzinger and Windsor, enough already. Either end paying them or for them altogether or loan them the money at a not terribly competitive rate of interest or let the faithful shell out themselves.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Horrible little man.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    But surely the point is that they havent moved on……the visit of John Paul 2 was without the controversy and that was 28 years ago.
    Which lends credence to the belief that the child abuse scandal has not only weakened Catholicism but emboldened their “liberal” critics as well as their tadiitional antiChrist types.

  • FJH

    Yes! that is exactly it. Twenty eight years ago the popes visit passed with barely a murmur, now it seems every conceivable protest is being dragged forth to condemn this visit. It looks, to me, as though they are actually trying to take advantage of the child abuse scandal which is in a way taking advantage of the victims.

  • English Republic

    I wonder how long the Daily Mail set would tolerate the monarchy if they received an itemised costing of the Windor family on their tax return? They’d be up in arms quicker than you could say “Helicopter for Andy!”

    As for Mr Ratzinger, like I said most people here couldn’t care less about the actual visit, there is an overwhelming sense of apathy even amongst the (nominal) Catholic’s that I know with only the elderly and “Third World” migrants of the Catholic faith who actually believe in all the mumbo-jumbo of religion that are remotely interested in going to see him. The difference compared to Mr Wojtyła’s visit a generation ago is profound and as an atheist that can only be a promising thing. I’ve no issue with Ratzinger myself and if going to see him floats people’s boat’s then good luck to them, I just don’t want to pay for their indulgence.