Just a couple of thoughts on the Pope visit:
1) The Catholic Church and fascism
There’s a piece by the smug, moon-faced idiot who edits CiF Belief, in which he attempts to close down debate while stampeding for the moral high ground. Contra Brown, it is entirely appropriate to raise the Church’s relationship with Nazism, because Pope Benedict gave a speech on it, in which he failed to acknowledge either the religious and spiritual aspects of the Third Reich or the role of his church in railroading war criminals to safety.
The speech itself reads like a CiF column. The fact is that, despite having the evidence, we atheists have lost the argument on this one. People will always believe that Nazism and Stalinism are atheist ideologies and atheist crimes. Sam Harris writes that ‘[t]he romantic thesis lurking here is that reason itself has a ‘shadow side’ and is therefore no place to turn for the safeguarding of human happiness.’ Against sentiment such evidence is useless. But it’s also worth repeating, whenever this lie is broadcast, Pascal Bruckner’s point that Nazism and communism were both overthrown by the secular, reason-based democracies of Enlightened Europe and America.
2) Celebrating the Geopolitical Epicentre of the Culture of Death
The visit kicked off with a comment from the Pope’s right hand man to the effect that multiculturalism had turned the UK into a third world country. Any American or European politician, making this Powellite slur on our country, would be condemned rightly as a racist. But Kasper’s words stirred no reaction from the pro-faith left, which will forgive and forget just about anything. Benedict’s Edinburgh speech was along the same lines with lots of pissing and moaning about multiculturalism, the marginalisation of faith, and the degenerate state of the UK. The British taxpayer is in the surreal position of paying to be insulted.
Recently there have been more and more clerics hectoring the nation about its deterioration into sexual permissiveness and metropolitan pretensions. Earlier in the month we had the archbishop of Westminster complaining that the passage of gay rights law had turned the UK into a ‘selfish, hedonistic wasteland’ and London into ‘the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death’. What’s worse is that his condemnation of liberal, cosmopolitan Britain is being listened to with sage nods and serious expressions because the rest of us also, by some tragic perversity, love to denigrate this aspect of contemporary life in the UK.
The point is that if you condemn the Vatican’s reactionary statements on this you also have to condemn the intellectuals and cultural commenters who refuse to stand up for the UK’s diverse and urban way of life. Hedonism, intoxication, irreverence and sexual freedom should be celebrated and valued, and in time they may have to be fought for.
Read Laurie Penny in the NS:
But why on earth shouldn’t we congratulate ourselves? We are one of the most tolerant cultures on the planet, taking a stand, in the midst of domestic turmoil, against global religious oppression. Can’t we feel just a little bit proud?
If it is anti-Catholic to believe that child-rape ought to be eliminated, that stopping the spread of AIDs in Africa trumps religious squeamishness about condom use, and that human happiness is more important than dogmatic adherence to cobweb-crusted notions of purity and morality, then I for one am proud to be part of the geopolitical culture of death.