Thursday, September 16, 2010

Protest the Pope: Why Dignify Benedict's Long Train of Abuses with a State Visit?

CNN has posted a speech given in London last month to members of the Protest the Pope movement by Australian activist Peter Tatchell, who campaigns for human rights, democracy, lesbian and gay freedom and global justice. The campaign said Pope Benedict XVI had committed atrocities against several groups of human beings and that the UK government should not be dignifying him with a state visit. Tatchell's speech is a handy summary of Joseph Ratzinger's failings, both as Roman Catholicism's chief doctrinal enforcer under Pope John Paul II and as John Paul's successor. CNN's posting follows.

As a democrat, I defend the right of Pope Benedict XVI to visit Britain and to express his opinions. But people who disagree with him also have a right to protest against his often harsh, intolerant views.

The Protest the Pope campaign is calling on the British government to disassociate itself from the pope's opposition to women's rights, gay equality and the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. On these and many other issues, Benedict is out of step with the majority of British people, including most Catholics.

We do not believe that the pope should be honored with a state visit, given his role in the cover up of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. Even today, he is refusing to hand the Vatican's secret sex abuse files to the police in countries worldwide. He is protecting the abusers. This makes him complicit with sex crimes against children. Such a person does not deserve the honor of a state visit.

We also object to part of his visit being funded by the taxpayer. The British public never funds visits by the Grand Mufti of Mecca or the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. Why should the pope's visit get privileged financial support?

On many important social issues, the pope rejects equality and human rights.

Pope Benedict opposes women's ordination. Women are deemed unfit to be priests. This is an insult to the whole female sex. The implication of the pope's teaching is that women have no moral capacity for spiritual leadership as clergy. This is pure patriarchy and misogyny.

The pope says artificial contraception is a sin. He condemns poor parents in developing countries to have large families that they can't care for adequately. In some countries, priests promote scare stories that contraception makes women sick and will kill them.

Benedict XVI opposes IVF fertility treatment. He wants to deny childless couples the chance of parenthood. This is odd. The Catholic Church says having children is God's will yet it rejects giving the option of parenthood to infertile couples.

The pope rejects potentially life-saving embryonic stem cell research, which could help find cures for fatal illnesses like motor neurone disease -- saving lives and improving people's quality of life. Surely this research is fulfilling Christian values and ideals?

Benedict XVI has denounced the use of condoms, even to stop the spread of HIV. A husband with HIV must not use a condom to protect his wife from infection, according to Papal doctrine. He has also claimed that condoms "increase" the rate of HIV infection. His dishonest teachings discourage a proven way to reduce HIV transmission; thereby putting millions of lives at risk.

The pope has colluded with the Vatican's promotion of the lie that condoms spread HIV because latex is porous to the virus. This is an outrageous falsehood and has been condemned as untrue and irresponsible by scientists and medical professionals. Yet Benedict has never withdrawn or repudiated the Vatican nonsense that condoms have tiny holes through which HIV can pass.

In 1986 and 1992, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he authored a Vatican document that condemned the homosexuality as an "objective disorder" and the mere fact of being gay as a "strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil" -- even if a gay person never has sex. Rejecting the concept of gay human rights, the document asserted that there is no "right" to laws protecting homosexual people against discrimination, suggesting that the civil liberties of lesbians and gay men can be "legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct."

The pope has attacked same-sex marriages as "evil" and vilified supporters of gay equality as "gravely immoral." He has also denounced homosexual equality as a "deviant trend" and condemned same-sex love as being "without any social value." He even threatened to excommunicate Catholic legislators who voted for gay rights laws.

While condemning loving, consenting adult same-sex relations, the pontiff played a role in shielding Catholic clergy guilty of child sex abuse from prosecution.

In 2001, Pope Benedict wrote a letter to all Catholic Bishops, which ordered "Papal secrecy" concerning allegations of child sex abuse. He instructed the Bishops to report all such cases to him in Rome, so the idea that he did not know about sex abuse by priests is nonsense. His letter did not tell Bishops to report the abusers to the police.

The esteemed Catholic theologian, Hans Kung, said the pope bears co-responsibility for the cover-up and that Benedict has failed to apologize for his own personal shortcomings during the child sex abuse scandal.

For more than two decades, as a Cardinal and as a Pope, Joseph Ratzinger has attempted to reverse the liberalizing trends of the Second Vatican Council -- pushing the whole church back to a more orthodox, conservative agenda. He's strengthening the hierarchy and autocracy of the Vatican and the Papacy.

This has prompted a grassroots Catholic revolt -- the "We are Church" movement -- which seeks a more democratic, transparent, accountable Church. It asserts that the people are the Church, not the pope.

The Pope has condemned liberation theology, as espoused by Catholic theologians such as Gustavo Gutierriz and Leonardo Boff, and he has opposed the worker priest movement. He preaches social justice but attacks those clergy who advocate political action to reform society and make it more just.

Last year, Pope Benedict rescinded the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson who, in 2008, denied key elements of the Holocaust; claiming that a maximum of 300,000 Jews died in concentration camps and that none were gassed by the Nazis. Williamson remains a part of the Catholic church, with the Pope's blessing, despite the furore over his holocaust denial.

Benedict has also paved the way for eventual sainthood of Pope, Pius XII, despite the war-time pontiff's failure to speak out publicly, either during or after the Holocaust, against the Nazi mass murder of six million Jews and millions of others, including Russian, Polish, disabled, gay and Roma people -- and many more.

Pius XII was no saint. The fact that Pope Benedict wants to makes him a saint shows how far he has strayed from the moral and ethical values of most Catholics and most of humanity.


Seven Star Hand said...

When you talk about the current scandals facing the Vatican and Church, you should also point out to people that there is now stunning and comprehensive "new" proof that the New Testament is a Roman deception. Furthermore, religious leaders in Rome have always known this.

Finishing the Mysteries of Gods and Symbols

There are big new troubles on the horizon for Rome. A new day is about to dawn...

Sherry Peyton said...

I have always viewed the elevation of Ratzinger as unfortunate for all the reasons you cite. Perhaps we can look at his trip as a recognition of the Seat he holds rather than a welcoming of him. I'd like to think so at least.

As a person married to a divorced man, I am one of those rejected and certainly I look to Benedict for no sympathy. I suspect things won't change for me any time soon.

The cardinals clearly were not of a mind to think seriously about the church's direction when they elected him. They pretty much just let thinks stand in place and after all these years of conservativism by JPII that truly was sad to see.

Gerald T Floyd said...

If readers refer to Part III of my Ph.D. dissertation, they will find that I do not subscribe to the view that "the New Testament is a Roman deception."

I believe that church teachings--including those taught by the consensus of the faithful--develop from the continuous interplay of scripture, tradition and contemporary experience. For this interplay to take place, the closing of the canon of scripture was essential. The New Testament had to be identified to provide the fixed set of symbols that tradition and contemporary experience work from and interpret.

One can argue that politics had something to do with which books were declared canonical and which were not. But the fact remains that SOME set of books had to be defined as the official ones before church teaching could move forward.

The proponents of books that were not included in the New Testament canon may have something to tell us about the geo-cultural context and prejudices of those who selected the official ones. But the fact that proponents of other texts existed does not justify the conclusion that "the New Testament is a Roman deception."