Which One’s B16?

If you’re keen to diss Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church, you may have to line up and take a number. The queue is quite long already as Brits are lining up in dismayingly large numbers to bash the Papal visit. A reporter in Scotland suggested that the inclemency of Scottish weather might be a reason for a comparatively poor anticipated turnout at the planned open-air Mass. Also, there’s a new book out in Italian that documents five years of global gaffes by the pontiff and his blundering staff, capped in fine style today by Cardinal Kasper’s massive plonker that Britain can be compared to a “Third World” country.
Already, London buses are adorned with adverts supporting women’s ordination and last night, humanists held a Protest the Pope Campaign face-off between human rights activists versus Catholic Voices supporters of the Pope. Right from the start of the debate, there was a lot of hysterical shouting from both sides, but mostly from the unbelievers. For many, the entire boxing match boils down to three issues. First, objections to taxpayer funds being used for the state visit. Some wonder whether in the current economic circumstances we should be spending eighteen million US to provide a state platform for a religious leader who has already criticised our legislation and condemned the way we organise our society. $18m would after all buy a couple of new schools, or a handful of MRI machines. Secondly, continued and entirely justifiable outrage over the sexual abuse crisis and recent news that the pope declined to accept resignations of two bishops in Ireland, and finally protests that the church will not change its teachings to ordain women. Condom use and abortion, widely disregarded even by the faithful, remain thorns in the flesh of the man who was once the head of the descendant organisation to the Inquisition.
Also, JP2 he ain’t. John Paul was a man of the people, this one is a stuffed shirt. Even friends of B16 admit that he’s got an image problem. Where they place the blame for it may differ, but the fact itself seems clear. From a PR point of view, this is a pontificate defined by its train wrecks and animosity towards the Pope has become the new international bear-baiting. He’s like a teacher whose classroom is empty because his school is burning down. I have no love for the bolted-on absurdities of Catholic doctrine – as most people who read this will know – but grieve for the believers within the fold of Rome whose collective reputation has been so tarnished with the brushes of scandal and frankly arrogant nonsense that is often taught as Gospel from its pulpits. The work of the kingdom is poorly served by such as this.

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