Friday, 17 September 2010

Nope to The Pope!

How is this possible?

Today, on my day off, I was mucking about at home with the telly on in the background, like a proper Azeri. We like having our tellies on, even if we are not watching them.

And of course, the Pope is here. And of course, his arrival took over the news. It is like this country has nothing better to talk about. Great, they thought, we have some old man to fill the airtime! For hours, the BBC covered his visits to the catholic schools in London.

Of course, I have questions! How can I not?

Let me ask you. If there was some other- any other!- person who knew his friends were raping small boys, but never reported the fact to the police... (He might have thought those friends could be cured through counselling or heavy praying.) What do you think would happen to this guy when the police found out he knew?

The man is an accessory after the fact- however you look at it. The guy helped to conceal what some of his colleagues did, worrying more about the reputation of the organization than about the abused children.

What kind of the God representative (isn't it what he claims to be?) thinks it is OK to do so? Is there, can there be any excuse for this?

That really is my question.

But, I also wanted to ask a very happy looking black woman singing a beautiful song for the Pope: Have you not heard what one of the Pope’s cardinals said? That landing in London felt like landing in some third-world country? You do realize that he is referring to the multi-cultural, multi-racial face of the city, right? Do you honestly not think the guy was being openly racist? How can you be happy to stand there and sing enthusiastically to the man who thinks condoms do not help AIDS but make the problem worse? How can you sing a song to a man who would deny you an abortion even if you were brutally raped?

We have an Italian guy at work, our admin assistant.

'Tell me', I asked the other day, 'Are you Catholic?'

'What do you think?' He said, laughing. He always laughs at whatever I say. Must be my accent.

'Well', I said 'I don’t want to assume anything. Yes, you might be from Italy, but I am from Azerbaijan. Majority of Azeries are Muslims, but I am not. So I am asking you a simple question. Are you or are you not?'

'Why?' he wanted to know.

'Well..' I said, pointing to an article in Metro on my desk 'I just wanted to know how it made you feel reading about it all in the news? Do you feel upset by it all?'

'You know', he replied 'I have more important things in life to worry about than the Pope!'

Fair enough, I thought. I just wanted to know-
How is this even possible? All of it, really.

The admin assistant just shrugged his shoulders and went back to work.

I won’t be attending the Protest the Pope marches. I am not a marching type. But I am glad some people are.


  1. Just yesterday I saw the news about Benedict XVI visiting the UK and all the reactions. And I can understand your feelings about this visit, the man and the Church as a whole.
    I can only hope no one gets hurt on the marches and protests.

  2. Generally I enjoy what you write but this time I think you are way off. Unfortunately the British have a brutal history of anti-Catholicism which is reflected in the British media's treatment of the Pope's visit.

    Yes I am well aware of the child sex-abuse scandals and cover-ups and the Church must deal with these. The issue existed long before the current Pope. As far as the cardinal you refer to he was not making a racist comment but rather referring to Britain's general lack of religiosity. Stupid comment maybe but cardinals can be stupid too.

    Do you go around asking Iranians how they feel about Ahmedinajad? Do you ask Muslims about cartoons of Muhammad or about Ben Laden? How about asking Jews how they feel about Gaza? Maybe you could ask the British why they still have a royal family who inherit positions and wealth because of their blood. Oh yes, you could also ask the British why they have a constitution which specifically prohibits Catholics from becoming king or queen.

    Sorry, just venting.

  3. @Richard: Thanks for this. Most people just hide when they see topics like this one. But there is nothing wrong with having a healthy discussion.

    Let me assure you though that I am not anti-Catholic. I am just anti-religion and religious establishments in general. I don’t discriminate.

    My question to my friend at work was not quite what you think. I wanted to know if he felt upset that the media was attacking the Pope. If he thought it was unfair...Like you explained to me here. Did he, if he were Catholic, feel that the Pope is, indeed, the representative of God on Earth? I was also curious what a religious person would think about something that someone like me thinks is just inexplicable. But I think that about Bin Laden too, and Ahmedinajad, and about the Royal family.... the list goes on, my friend.

  4. You are conflating several issues - sexual abuse, the cover-up, papal infallibility, religion in general, each of which merit lengthy discussion.

    What is objectionable is the over-the-top virulence in Britain toward the Pope and the Catholic Church in general. Atheist hero Richard Dawkins wrote an op-ed referring to the Pope as a “A leering old villain in a frock”. Talk about demonization. Would this kind of reaction be possible against any other religious leader? I think not.

    I say criticize the Pope, the Church, Catholics - that's your right but I have some suggestions for future posts. How about: ''Vent your spleen against the Queen'', or ''Don't lie, Chief Rabbi'', or ''Fatwah against Allah''.

  5. @Richard: 'Fatwah against Allah''? Are you comparing Allah to the Pope? :))) Are you sure you are not an atheist yourself, deep inside? One is meant to be the God, another one a priest!

    Can I ask you one thing. I have no idea where you are from, but do you know how much abuse politicians get in the UK? Like Tony Blair?

    Why, may I ask you, is it OK to criticize and laugh at the political leaders, but not a religious leader- WHATEVER religion it happens to be?

    Also, about the UK and Catholics...

    You reminded me of my Jewish friend, who claims that people who criticize Israel are simply anti-Semitic. They hate us because we are Jews! They hate us because we are Catholics! See what I mean? I dont think it is that simple. Maybe-is it so unreasonable to think so?- people are just somewhat annoyed with the child abuse cover-up?

  6. I thought 'Fatwah against Allah' rhymed and was funny!

    Yeah I know the British press is vicious and it is definitely OK to criticize and laugh at religious leaders - all religious leaders and their beliefs.

    As far as the UK and Catholics, the English treatment of Catholics starting from Henry the 8th until very recently was just so appalling (think Saint Thomas More, Cromwell, dispossession of Irish Catholics, potato famine, Irish war of independence, Northern Ireland ...). And yes I know Catholics behaved badly in other countries.

    I think you are right that the child abuse cover-up pushes a lot of buttons for people, and rightfully so. I also think its easy to take shots at an 80 year old conservative white guy from Germany. Which is what you've done seemingly under the influence of the media.

  7. Richard: Fair enough, everyone gets influenced by the media, whether we want to be or not. But, I was actually surprised how little coverage the protests seemed to have in the news. I expected a lot more.
    Also, I live in such a religious neighbourhood, that I was laughing when I read that the cardinal thought UK was not very religious. He should come and visit me here, in Herts! He would love it here.

    You did not tell me- where are you from?

  8. I'm from the Great White North!

  9. @Richard: Cool. :) Thanks for commenting...Look how quiet this topic gets everyone. I enjoyed this little chat.

  10. Say what you will about the Roman Catholic Church but chances are that you wouldn't be living the life you are living if it hadn't been for this man:

  11. Hahaha! Have you not heard of David Koresh? The United States government murdered him along with 75 of his disciples. Something similar is supposed to have happened to Jesus Christ at the hands of the Roman officials. But apparently none of this is as shocking as Richard Dawkins calling the Pope a leering old villain (in a FROCK no less)!

  12. @FabCook: Ah, well, that changes things, of course. Forget the kiddie fiddling business! Forget all the other bizarre ideas! All is forgiven, since one of them played a role in the collapse of the communism. Perfect! :)

    @Mark: a frock and a pointy hat. Not sure that look is any sillier than any other religious attires though. :) IMHO!

  13. The Orthodox priests have some nice black robes.

    Incidentally, John Paul II really does seem to have been quite a man; he spoke some twelve languages! It's also worth pointing out that the Catholic Church accepts evolution, as opposed to most Protestant denominations. This is no small thing - many of the evils of modern religion can ultimately be traced to the rejection of evolutionist thinking (e.g. "homosexuality is a choice".)

    I do think it's stupid to take exception to any criticism of the Pope, particularly on the basis that such criticism wouldn't even be possible towards other religious leaders. But there are many things about Catholicism and really all of Christianity which merit respect - looking at the historical record and the state of the world today, it is the Christan world which put men on the moon, cured Polio, and even developed the computers on which these posts are typed. Societies espousing Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, or tribalist paganism have not accomplished what Christian nations have.

  14. After the fall of the roman empire, not only a political entity was lost but a whole raft of deities. With the emergence of a new religion, christianity, many of the political classes battled to gain the position laid vacant by the demise of the roman emperor. And so the pope was invented. This posting ruled europe with the ultimate authority over all the crowned heads. The roman roads made extending his power and influence easy.

    Now, can someone tell me what the F@*& this has to to do with god and the bible?
    This is business.
    This is hard cash.
    This trip is brand damage limitation.
    This is recruitment.

    Lets not be naive and pretend that this visit is anything but the Vatican PLC looking after its own best interests. It's had a knock, seen its spiritual share price fall and is now sending in the big guns to silence the "aggressive British Atheist". Silence those who would expose (which anyone who listened during History class knows) is an utter bag of shite, which only exists to this day thanks to that good old standby of fear and ignorance.

    The media has the unenviable task of avoiding causing offence whilst still delivering the news. How fortunate for the UK that Henry VII did not suffer such moral dilemmas.

  15. I was driving to Starbucks the other morning to get Mom and I some lattes before work. It's only 5 min away from our house. NPR was on in the car as usual. On the way there I listened to the story about the practice of molesting and trading boys in Afghanistan, on the way back they were talking about investigation revealing how catholic priests who molested kids in developed countries were sent to the third world countries, where they continued to torture children away from the "civilization" & away from their management I assume. By the time I came home with the lattes, I wanted to puke. I also want to know why so many perverts flock to the most conservative religious establishments?
    On the topic of comments above, I often wonder why British press is so brutal about pretty much everything? And I'd like to see anyone in the West publish any open questions to the Jewish establishment and see how fast anti-defamation league would be all over them accusing them of anti-semitism. Even Time magazine got slammed last week.
    Good luck with having a rational dialogue on this topic.

  16. @ Nata: You are awesome. Also, please don't puke on us.