Thursday, September 16, 2010

What the Pope Said

 
The current edition of the leader of the Roman Catholic Church is visiting Britain. It's a state visit, for reasons that aren't clear.

The Pope delivered a speech when he arrived [Pope's Holyroodhouse Speech Transcript]. Here's part of what he said ...
Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a "reductive vision of the person and his destiny" (Caritas in Veritate, 29).

...

Today, the United Kingdom strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate. Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms; and may that patrimony, which has always served the nation well, constantly inform the example your Government and people set before the two billion members of the Commonwealth and the great family of English-speaking nations throughout the world.
Accommodationists take note. The Pope has just told us that "extreme atheism" and Nazis can be lumped together in the same paragraph. He has just announced that "aggressive forms of secularism" don't respect or tolerate the cultural values of most Britons.

I expect the same criticism of the Pope that I see from accommodationists when they think "New Atheists" have stepped over the line.

Waiting ......

Meanwhile, the British Humanist Society responds [BHA Reacts to Pope's first remarks on state visit].
The notion that it was the atheism of Nazis that led to their extremist and hateful views or that somehow fuels intolerance in Britain today is a terrible libel against those who do not believe in god. The notion that it is non-religious people in the UK today who want to force their views on others, coming from a man whose organisation exerts itself internationally to impose its narrow and exclusive form of morality and undermine the human rights of women, children, gay people and many others, is surreal.


12 comments :

  1. "I expect the same criticism of the Pope that I see from accommodationists when they think "New Atheists" have stepped over the line."

    Thanks, Larry - I laughed so hard I spit up all over the screen. Thanks for reminding me why I look forward to your posts! Now I have to go find some towels...

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  2. Without the support of a substantial segment of the German population, Hitler would have been a failed watercolorist. So are we to understand that tens of millions of Germans abandoned their faiths and church memberships for a decade or so, then suddenly found them again after V-E Day? Or was it the good churchgoers who enabled Nazism's rise from the ravings of an embittered man into a scourge of civilization?

    BTW, it would've been nice of Pius XII to have said something equally critical of the Nazis back when it would have done some good. Little late.

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  3. "the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century..." ???

    Wait - is he saying that 'atheist extremism' caused WWII?

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  4. It's the Pope's catholicism that gave him the courage to refuse to be drafted into the Hitler Youth in 1941. Nazism meant he had to secretly enroll into an underground seminary, of course. And it's the moral training he received there that gave him the strength to refuse to be drafted into a Nazi army, such that he did not serve into an anti-aircraft corps fighting for the fatherland. He's not one of those that had to claim an illness to prevented him from the rigours of military duty. And certainly he wasn't one of those who stayed with their units until the very last and instead he deserted before his unit was disbanded.

    Clearly he is a saintly beacon of moral rightitude in the face of the adversity he faced for sticking to the praiseworthy conduct inspired by his faith.

    So much sarcasm... I need a drink.

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  5. The Church is backed into a corner. They have likely never encountered such a reasoned attack in their history. There are no logical reasons they can give that justify the covering up of paedophilia, the outlawed use of condoms (contributing to the spread of AIDS) because of their fear of "not for procreation" sex, and their dismissal of women's rights in the church. So they preach to the faithful who unquestionably believe in the Pope's infallibility, and they hope that this current nucleus of the church stays strong enough to hold reason at bay.

    The morality of their iron age dogma falls far short of the standard of our current secular society morals. They must know this, but how do they change their dogma without admitting there is no such thing as divine guidance for the Church?

    Exit stage right.

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  6. In the news, stupid old conservative religious dude says thing in keeping with conservative religious views. Elsewhere, bear shits in woods.

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  7. I would expect "extreme" need not include Dawkins and his ilk. Yet the door was certainly left open for that conclusion.

    But here is his indictment: "... let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a 'reductive vision of the person and his destiny'."

    So does atheism lead to loss of virtue? I think it's arguable that naturalism has no firm morality.

    Does it lead to a truncated vision of man and society? Well, if man is yet another animal, certainly his stature is reduced, though if true, that would not be truncation.

    And is there a reduced vision of man's destiny? Quite so, I think.

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  8. I suspect that the reason for it being a state visit (head of Vatican state visiting Britain) is the teeny unresolved matter of Henry VIII's schism from the Catholic church. In England (at least) the Pope would be a rival church leader. By inviting him as head of state, the clerico-diplomatic conflict is circumvented.

    That's what I'm guessing, anyways.

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  9. I'm not a humanist, but I agree with the BHA statement you have quoted here

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  10. "I expect the same criticism of the Pope that I see from accommodationists when they think "New Atheists" have stepped over the line."
    I'd really hope that everyone would condemn such a comment, not because of any desire to protect atheism but because of the trivialising of an incredibly horrible event to win a rhetorical point.

    But of course I don't think anyone holds the Pope to even the most basic accountability. When a supposed moral leader than protect child-rapists and people don't make a stir? A sad reflection of the times.

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  11. Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society

    What absolute horseshit. "Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny" PERIOD.

    The Second World War, at least on the European front, was a war between christian states.

    How dare that revisionist sleazebag seek to rewrite history and try to slime his way back into a secular world properly rid of scums of his ilk.

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