Saturday, 18 September 2010

Josef Ratzinger's Big Fat Lie

Josef Ratzinger started his papal visit to the United Kingdom by repeating a common, but demonstrable, lie; that of the atheism of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, and sought to discredit modern atheism and secularism with this lie. He stated that he wished to extend the hand of friendship to the people of Britain, yet then proceeded to insult the majority of them, by seeking to tar British secularists, and those of no religious belief, with the same brush as totalitarian and racist Nazism. I don't know about you, but I think that insulting 58% of the population (National Centre for Social Research, 2009 - the most recent figures available) is a strange way to extend the hand of friendship (text of the speech).

Mr Ratzinger is visiting this country on a state visit, not a private or pastoral one. There are certain conventions to be observed when doing so, not least when this privilege is not extended to any other religious leader, and when it is a status dubiously conferred. He might have been expected to be more careful what he said, especially given the racist and intemperate remarks of one of his aides, Cardinal Kaspar (conveniently taken ill immediately afterwards), shortly before the visit began.

Of course, anyone may choose to advance their views with impunity, assuming they do so within the law, especially if justified by reason and evidence, but to attempt to do so when the basis of the remarks is demonstrably false, and should be known as such by the speaker, is disingenuous and offensive, and highly unwise.

Josef Ratzinger attempts to paint Adolf Hitler, and other principal Nazis, as an atheist. He seeks to associate modern atheists in Britain, and beyond, with Nazi ideology, and to distance his own religious sect from complicity with that regime, and, by doing so, seeks to advance the interests of his own Church. In doing so, he is lying, and either he knows this and seeks to deceive others, or he is deluding himself. The pope is often presented to the world as an educated and scholarly theologian, and as someone who had experience growing up under this detested regime. Indeed, we are often reminded that he was forced to serve in the Hitler Youth, and that he deserted when able to do so, and that his family opposed Nazism. So, Josef Ratzinger should, better than most, know the falsehood of his assertion, and the true nature of that regime.

Adolf Hitler was raised a Catholic, as were many of the leading Nazis, and his writings in Mein Kampf, and many of his subsequent documents and speeches, confirm his belief in a god. Indeed, he was very clear that his anti-semitism and his social attitudes were coloured strongly by the teachings and doctrine of the Catholic Church. This should be hardly surprising to Josef Ratzinger, or anyone else, since it was 1965 before the Catholic Church revoked its doctrine that taught that all Jews, past and present, were responsible for the death of Jesus of Nazareth, and that god had rejected all the Jews because of this.

The Catholic Church was not unique in this dogma at that time (the Lutherans in Germany had a similar doctrine), but it was the Catholic Church that had sown the seed in Adolf Hitler's youthful mind. It was this teaching, loudly and repeatedly proclaimed throughout the Catholic Church, which made it easy for so many Catholics (and similarly for the Lutherans), to condone Nazi anti-semitism, and for those actively engaged in the persecution of Jews, and in their later killing in the Holocaust, to do so with equanimity. The Catholic Church bears much of the responsibility for the anti-semitism of Hitler, and the Nazi party, and for the Final Solution that resulted.

His actions, once in power, confirmed his active support for the Catholic faith, giving it a privileged place amongst the religions in Germany at that time, as evidenced by the Reichskonkordat between himself and pope Pius XII. Indeed, Pius XI enthusiastically embraced the new regime, and even instructed priests throughout Germany to say prayers for the Fuhrer on his birthday, and to promote Catholic involvement in the Nazi Party. There are many photographs and films showing Catholic priests and bishops present at, and participating in, Nazi Party rallies and social events. As Mr Ratzinger alludes, some Catholic priests spoke out against the regime, but so did many other religious leaders, trade unionists, socialists, and, especially, many of the non-religious people - the atheists and freethinkers of Germany.

Some of those priests undoubtedly paid with their lives, but many more Catholic clerics either dared not say a word, despite their supposed faith, or actively supported a regime which contravened their alleged morality. Many of the other non-clerics, who spoke against the regime, also paid with their lives. However, those priests did not die because they were Catholic, or even because they believed in a god; like the others, it was because they dared to oppose Hitler's regime. This was not the act of a regime seeking to "eradicate God from society", but one determined to brook no opposition. Indeed, one of Hitlers first acts on becoming Chancellor in 1933 was to ban atheist and freethinker organisations, with the active support of the Catholic Church.

Had the Catholic Church spoken out against his obvious racism and totalitarian aspirations when Hitler first rose to prominence, then it is possible that he might have been stopped in his tracks. Their failure to do so is an obvious stain on their name, and is symptomatic of their attitude in dealing with their current crisis over clerical child abuse; namely, that the interests of the Church override all others, even at the cost of justice, morality and basic humanity. It is instructive to note that only one of the Nazi leaders was ever excommunicated by Pius XII, despite their continued adherence to Catholicism, and the clear evidence of their crimes, and that was Joseph Goebbels. His crime? Marrying a Protestant! Need I say more?

So, in repeating these lies, the pope is either guilty of a breach of his own Church's strictures, in knowingly disseminating a lie, or is guilty of misrepresentation of his scholarship and education, and is instead a woefully ignorant man, or he is seriously in denial about his own knowledge of the Nazi regime, and his Church's support for that regime. I believe him to be an educated man, with access to all the history books and the Vatican papers over many years. He grew up in a family who are reputed to have opposed Hitler. Obviously, he should be all too aware of the facts, and of his lie in asserting the contrary. Possibly he feels guilt for his own youthful experiences, the Church's complicity and the attempted cover-up and denial of them over the decades since, and feels justified by some need to blot them out of his, and the Church's, memory. However, he can hardly expect not to be called out on his lie when he repeats it in public, and to an informed and unindoctrinated audience, nor should others expect it.

It has been put to me several times over the past few days that I, and others, should not concern ourselves with this, and that we should not speak out to highlight and correct the lie. However, when someone in a position, such as the pope enjoys, of influence and supposed infallibility, commits such errors, then it is important that this is pointed out, as otherwise the lie gains currency, and this one is widespread enough already. Hitler was not an atheist. He was a Catholic, as were many of the Nazi leadership, and was supported by the Catholic Church. These are demonstrable facts. The truth does matter.

This might not concern me so much were it not for the renewed encroachment of faith-based religion, Christian, Muslim and others, on our institutions, government, services, and, worst of all, our education system, and this trend seems set to continue and expand if we do not speak out firmly. Ratzinger's lies foster a notion of the symbiosis of faith and morality, and the absence of morality without it. History and reason teaches us the contrary. We must not allow the return of the necessity of the badge of religion for election to office, as practically prevails in the US, and once did in the UK, and must boldly assert that the only protection for both freedom of religion, and freedom from it, is a secular government and institutions. Society and its governance should be based on factual evidence, reason and humanity, and not on faith, fantasy and falsehoods, or sectional self-interest.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The "WTC Mosque" And Phoney Outrage

Well, this is the third big religious controversy of the past few weeks, so I should really do the hat-trick and, let's face it, just about everyone and their dog has had their say, but few of them were Quakers. It raises three main questions in my mind, and I will outline them briefly below.

Firstly, what is the actual nature of the proposed centre? Let's get one thing straight - it is not a mosque, and it is not at the WTC site, but two full blocks away, and it is not visible from the WTC site. It is a cultural centre, featuring eating and sporting facilities, alongside a library, seminar rooms and conference facilities, though it will have prayer rooms on the uppermost levels. Mosques don't generally have basketball courts and swimming pools, and if the presence of prayer rooms makes it a mosque, then the WTC was a mosque too, as it contained Islamic prayer rooms.

The funding of the centre, and the nature of the leader behind the project have been brought into the question. The foundation principally funding the project is run by the same Saudi businessman who is a major shareholder in News International, owner of Fox News and numerous other right wing outlets in the US, and throughout the world, who are leading the outcry against this building. Apparently, he is acceptable as a shareholder in Murdoch's empire, but not as a philanthropic funder of cultural centres.

The imam who has been accused of extremism, is the very same man consulted by both the Bush and Obama administrations, and by the FBI, on countering extremism and on cultural sensitivity towards Islamic groups and nations. Widely considered one of the most moderate imams in the US, he is acceptable to governments of both parties, and to law enforcement agencies, but is clearly not acceptable to right wing ideologues.

Secondly, should the centre be built where it is proposed, or at all? Personally, I would rather that no new churches, mosques or temples were built anywhere, and that the money was spent on secular education, rational discussion, and scientific research instead. However, rightly or wrongly, many people choose to embrace theistic religions, and they continue to have the right to build their places of worship without unnecessary interference or discrimination, and without distinction between religions. That is the mark of a free and fair society, and is the only way to truly safeguard the freedom of, and from, religion in our societies. Hopefully, one day, we will have no need of most of them, but for now we have to guarantee equality.

The argument against the specific location seems to be that it is in some way disrespectful to those killed in the September 11th attacks. Those who died included approximately 60 innocent Muslims who either worked at the WTC, or were passengers on the aircraft. There were no objections raised when an Islamic prayer service was held at the actual WTC site in memory of those victims, as required by Islamic practice, shortly after the attacks. There were Islamic prayer rooms within the buildings destroyed, despite the previous attack on the WTC in the 1990s. Are these individuals not disrespected by the hatred being shown towards their fellow American Muslims?

I do not attribute sanctity to a place in this manner; humans have died horribly in almost every square mile of this planets surface at some point or other, and often on a larger scale than this. Yet, if you call for such respect, then you have to honour all the victims, not just those you happen to like, or identify with. Critics of the centre will, no doubt, point to the religion of the attackers, but do we then ban churches from Oklahoma City, because Tim McVeigh happened to be a Christian with a persecution complex? Al-Qaeda attacked the WTC, in the name of a twisted and perverse interpretation of their religion; they did not act in the name of all Muslims, nor pretended to, and certainly not in the name of American Muslims. I'm no great admirer of Islam, but I would not think for one moment that the attack represented all Islam, a tortuously fractured and diverse religion, as is Christianity.

Furthermore, if this site is to be regarded as sacred, why then is it not disrespectful for the strip clubs, fast food joints and tacky discount stores to operate within a similar distance of it, and much more visibly than this centre will?

This area of Manhattan has a large Muslim population, who were directly impacted by the attacks and their aftermath, just as much as any other American. It is a neighbourhood that already has several mosques. It is a population eager for understanding and openness with their fellow Americans. What place in America would be more suitable for a centre whose intended purpose includes building bridges, promoting reconciliation and resisting extremism?

Thirdly, why has this controversy come to the boil in the last couple of months? This centre at Park 51 was first publicly proposed more than a year ago, and virtually no disquiet was expressed at that time. Indeed, it was broadly welcomed, and there was even an appearance on a Fox News show last autumn (I'm sure you can still find the clips on YouTube somewhere), where the host was warmly supportive of the centre and had a friendly interview with the imam's wife, a modern American lady, whose appearance tells you much about how liberal this imam is. She was very careful to explain that this was not a mosque, but that it was a cultural centre designed to promote understanding, and to combat any potential extremism amongst the Muslim community.

So what changed? Why did the right wing media and blogosphere

That these charges are demonstrably false does not, of course, matter to Republican and conservative demagogues, nor does the harm that this has done to the unity of the nation, and to America's image abroad, with potential consequences for Americans, and other western citizens, in the Islamic world. Their narrow self-interest and any potential electoral advantage to be gained is all that matters.

America was founded, not as a Christian nation, as the right wing there love to assert, but as a nation that guaranteed freedom of religion, and freedom from it, and which has secular values at the very heart of its constitution. It goes against the very raison d'etre of the country to oppose this centre, and to stir up hatred and division in the manner of the current Fox News agenda. The WTC site should be a memorial to tolerance, unity, and to the folly of hatred, not a symbol of division and intolerance. Until the world is ready to move on from supernatural superstition and tribalism, then tolerance and equality continue to be our best defence against the hatred and intolerance so often promoted and committed in the name of theistic religion.

Ironically, the last Republican President, George W Bush, whatever his actions abroad, seemed to have an instinctive understanding of this in the domestic sphere, and demonstrated that in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, in a manner which seems alien to his political successors.

Some Thoughts On Book-Burning

Whilst I am in the blogging frame of mind, there is a further issue which has been dominating headlines recently, and which set my thoughts in motion. I refer to the furore over Pastor Terry Jones and his proposed burning of 1000 qurans in Florida. Whilst, the majority have seen through Mr Jones as the attention-seeking nonentity and charlatan that he undoubtedly is, there have been many voices raised in defence of his right to do as he pleases with respect to the qurans, which he has presumably acquired legitimately.

The arguments made are generally that in America he has the freedom to express his religious belief, and exercise his freedom of speech and expression, as he wishes, especially in regard to his own property, and that such rights should be sacrosanct. Furthermore, it has been argued that no-one has the right not to be offended by someone else's lawful actions. These arguments are true - up to a point. However, having the freedom to exercise your rights does not make it either sensible or responsible to do so.

Should individuals, such as western troops serving in, or tourists visiting, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries suffer harm as a result of a quran burning, then the fault certainly lies with the perpetrators of such an act, and not with anyone burning the book. Yet to go ahead, knowing that such acts are possible, requires that there is an imperative that outweighs such potential harm to others. Some may regard that imperative to simply be the free exercise of their rights, yet I think most would look for more than that.

Terry Jones asserts that he wished to do so to "send a message" to the Muslim world. However, he seems incapable of articulating that message clearly beyond some vague platitudes about setting down a marker, an assertion that "Islam is of the devil", and a late and spurious attempt to link it to the proposed building of an Islamic community centre in the vicinity of the former World Trade Center site. If you're going to put other peoples lives at potential risk, you ought to have something better and more concrete than that.

As a European with a good knowledge of history, I am acutely aware of, and deeply discomforted by, our past record with regard to book-burnings. The Inquisition, Witchfinders, Hitler, Stalin, and Franco are just the best known of those who have indulged in this practice, and it is hard to think of a single example of a case of book-burning which has reflected well on the perpetrators or their beliefs. It is almost exclusively the act of the bully, the tyrant and the anti-intellectual.

Whilst it is difficult to rationalise my opposition to the simple act, rather than to the many past perpetrators, nonetheless I can not dispel that discomfort. No doubt the ideas essentially exist independent of the material copy of the book burned, and will continue to flourish, providing it is not the only copy. I am not similarly troubled by the idea, suggested elsewhere in the blogosphere, of downloading a copy of the quran to an e-reader and deleting that to convey the same "message". No, it is something about the symbolism of the act of burning which troubles me. Perhaps it is the similarity to the past burning of heretical people and not just heretical texts, or maybe it is the visceral nature of consigning something to the flames. It is somehow satisfying that Pastor Jones was ultimately stopped in his tracks by the local fire code.

There is also the feeling, that I embrace, that there are far more effective ways to deal with texts that we deem evil, incorrect or misguided. Far better, I would suggest, to read the book, understand its flaws, and then expose them to the metaphorical heat of our thoughtful and crafted criticism and ridicule, because, though the ideas will survive the burning of the physical book, they will not so easily escape a well-worded and argued demolition of their fallacies, and a rebuttal of their justifications.

I do agree with some supporters of the quran-burning that the so-called sacred text should be treated no differently from any other book, and I do not regard the undoubted harm that this, and other religious texts, have done justifies its singling out for burning either. It is precisely because of that harm that it is important that we are familiar with its contents, and the fallacies and untruths within it. How else are we to counter it, and other such books, religious or otherwise?

I have never understood the concept of an actual physical book being inherently sacred. I do not think that many, if any, Christians, Muslims or adherents of any other mainstream religion would regard the paper as having intrinsic sanctity, or the ink, so is it to be asserted that it is the specific pattern and order of the shapes, in the form of letters, printed in ink, onto the paper of the pages, which somehow magically confers sanctity on the physical entity of the finished book? This is clearly supernatural nonsense! The sanctity only exists in the mind of the beholder, and is not intrinsic to the physical article. As such, can a non-believer profane it?

Indeed, it is in the Quaker tradition that we regard no book as inherently sacred; not even the bible amongst Christian Quakers. The earliest Quakers, though, undoubtedly, almost exclusively devout Christians, and avid readers and quoters of the bible, a book that may have been the only one they had access to, did not regard it as inherently sacred. Early Quaker luminaries, such as George Fox and William Penn, often read widely, and included many works of philosophy, science and religious criticism amongst their libraries, as well as the quran and other non-Christian religious texts. They considered the search for truth and enlightenment to be a constant and unbounded one.

Modern Quakers look for wisdom and guidance in a wide array of sources, Christian or from other faiths, religious or secular, and have continued the long tradition of embracing science and reason. They are also generally all too aware of the many fallacies, contradictions and untruths contained in so many of the "great" spiritual works. And you can be pretty sure that Quakers aren't in the habit of burning books!

The Papal State Visit To Scotland And England

Tomorrow sees the first ever state visit by a pope to the United Kingdom. This raises many ethical and political questions, which I feel compelled to find time to comment upon.

Firstly, why is this designated a state visit at all? John Paul II was not accorded this "honour" in 1982. The pope is not even a real head of state; the UN does not recognise him as such, and who else should be the independent arbiter of such a status? He is simply a leader of a religious sect, a small minority within this country. No other religious leader has been, or should be, accorded this status, and I suspect that none of them would either expect or accept it.

His purpose in visiting is not a diplomatic mission, befitting such a status, but to recruit and retain members of his religious sect in this country. It is essentially a marketing and public relations exercise. Why then is he accorded this status which entails great expense to the taxpayers of Britain at a time when the country is about to be faced with the most drastic public spending cuts in our history? Would these millions not be better spent on some of the priorities which his religion is supposed to espouse, such as alleviating suffering or poverty? Furthermore, why are the taxpayers of Britain, less than 9% of whom have any affiliation to the Catholic Church, never mind an active membership of that Church, expected to foot the bill?

It also seems rank hypocrisy for a religious leader, who should be an example of humility, simplicity and personal sacrifice, to be sanctioning spending at these levels for a public relations exercise, rather than using such funds for the purposes his church is supposed to embody. Just ask yourself, especially if you are Christian, is this how Jesus of Nazareth would have behaved?

It is a favoured question amongst Christians today, and as the pope declares himself to be his representative on earth, then it is a most valid one to ask on this occasion. And I am only being partly facetious when I ask whether a man who is "god's representative on earth", and who believes in the power of intercessionary prayer, should need such security arrangements at all. Where is his faith?

Why are these invitations issued without the consent of our elected representatives? It is stated that he was invited by the Queen, though this probably means the previous Prime Minister, in reality. Why was this, and all such invitations, not debated in our Westminster Parliament? Why is he visiting Scotland without the Scottish Parliament debating it? Foreign relations are a reserved matter for Westminster, but the policing costs of this visit are the responsibility of the Scottish Government, so why was our Parliament not consulted? Should there not be proper accountability for such matters?

Secondly, we come to the question of whether a pope should be invited to visit this country at all. Here, I tend to think that the Catholic Church should be free to invite their leader whenever they wish, as should any religion wishing to so do, but that the entire cost of such a visit, and its security, should be met in full by the body inviting him, and not by the rest of the British public. I would not invite anyone to visit, and then expect someone else to pick up the bill, or even part of it, and especially not without even asking them first.

My personal feelings about the harm of faith-based religion to both individuals, and to society in general, are just that - my personal beliefs and opinions - to which I am entitled, and which I hope others will share, but which I have no right to compel others to share, or be unreasonably impacted by. The same should apply to the followers of such faith-based religions, and their beliefs and opinions. The only way to ensure freedom of, and from, religion is if the state has no role or connection to it, as wisely recognised by the authors of the US constitution, and so no leader of a religion should be accorded any such status by the state.

There should also be a proviso that there are no legitimate grounds on which to deny entry to the particular individual leader. There is precedent, with several extremist Christian and Muslim leaders denied entry in the past, and any individual guilty, or even suspected of, serious crimes may also expect to be denied entry, whether they are revered by some British residents or not.

Thirdly, we come to the question of an invitation to this particular pope. It is well-documented that this pope, prior to his elevation, had intimate knowledge of, and involvement in, the cover-up of child abuse by priests throughout the world, and including some resident in British-governed territories. His actions not only denied the judicial authorities the chance to investigate and bring to trial many of these individuals before their death, but, more importantly, denied justice to the many thousands of victims. Furthermore, he kept silent about known abusers and allowed them to continue in their abuse, having removed them to other parishes, a process in which he was involved, condemning still more children to such abuse. He put the church before vulnerable children in a way which seems most unChristian to me. It is also against the laws of this and many other countries. Again, is this what Jesus would do? Is this what the Church is supposed to be for?

However, with the advent of diseases such as AIDS, and our knowledge of how best to prevent their spread, then such opposition becomes even more deeply immoral, and tantamount to genocide. And this particular pope has compounded this doctrinaire death sentence with the spreading of lies about condom use. In the face of all scientific evidence, he has promulgated a message that condoms actually increase AIDS transmission, and that they contain holes which allow the virus to pass through. These lies condemn many more uneducated Catholics in developing nations to a long, lingering death, with further deprivation and stigmatism to them and their relatives and dependents, as many will believe his words in preference to those of the health professionals. These same concerns apply to many other sexually transmitted diseases, and the suffering and stigma they bring. Again, is this what Jesus would have done?

The Church, under Joseph Ratzinger's visible and vocal leadership, continues to preach a message of hate and discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals and transgendered people across the world. Whilst their influence has waned in Europe, they continue to inspire acts of hatred in many places, and especially in Africa. Such discrimination and incitement to hatred is illegal in Britain, and has been used as grounds to deny entry in the past. I see no reason not to apply such a sanction as long as the Catholic Church continues to be prejudiced in this manner.

And it's not only minorities that the Catholic Church discriminates against. Women make up a majority of the British population, but they are second-class citizens, according to the Catholic Church. Not only do they not have the right to make decisions over their own bodies and their reproductive function, according to Josef Ratzinger, but they are apparently incapable of performing the functions that men can in terms of officiating in the Christian religion. The pope prefers bronze age misogyny to female equality. He prefers his Church to wither due to the lack of male clerical recruits, rather than admit female priests. This is despite the evidence that women are more active in the Catholic Church than men, and form the majority of the Church's adherents, yet he seems oblivious to their passion.

Whilst Catholic nuns hardly have a spotless record regarding emotional and physical abuse, female priests would still have been far less likely to sexually abuse children, and their presence and potential would have relieved the pressure on the Church to keep abusive priests, due to the current low recruitment level. However, Ratzinger and his acolytes recently confirmed the depth of their prejudice in asserting that the ordination of women is a "crime" as serious as the sexual abuse of children. The blind faith and dogmatism that characterises much of Church teaching, and this area in particular, harm the Church's own interests but, more importantly, discriminates against, and belittles, the majority of the human species.

The Church's doctrinaire adherence to clerical celibacy has no grounding in scripture that I'm aware of. The suppression of powerful and healthy emotions is obviously going to cause problems for many individuals, male or female. This surely is part of the cause of the many scandals of emotional, physical and sexual abuse that have rocked the Catholic Church across the world over the past century. This continuing and perverse denial of an essential part of human identity ensures not only the low recruitment of clerics to the Church, causing the need to retain abusive priests and members of religious orders, but is, itself, a primary cause of the abuse. Furthermore, the pastoral mission of the Church is compromised and discredited by the complete lack of experience of clerics in this fundamental area of human life and relationships.

Finally, the Church all around the world continues to solicit funds to build and decorate church buildings in even the poorest communities, taking resources from many who can scarcely feed themselves and their families, and yet the Church is one of the wealthiest institutions in the world. Its leaders live a very comfortable life, and are surrounded by artifacts and buildings worth many billions of dollars or pounds. Is this what Jesus would have intended for his followers? It is estimated that the Church has within its power the ability to remove global poverty almost at a stroke if it liquidated its assets. What would the figure portrayed in the bible, and supposedly the source of their religion and faith, have done with all that wealth? He certainly would not have wasted tens of millions on state visits!

I am reluctant to blow the trumpet of liberal Quakers in this regard. Our faults are many and manifest, but we have always avoided clergy and leaders, believing all people to be equal, both in the running of our Society and in their potential. We avoid ostentation in consumption and lifestyle, and especially in our buildings, and we hold ethics to be central to our practice, with little, and preferably no, regard to dogma or doctrine. That has been our way for several centuries, and we continue to hold to it.

Even as a nontheist Quaker, I am certain that the professed teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are better embodied by that approach than by the practice of the Catholic Church and its leadership, past and present, which represents much of what is wrong and harmful in organised, faith-based religion. I am dubious of the historical veracity of Jesus of Nazareth, or at least the version of him described in the bible, and am downright sceptical that we can know what he actually said on any specific subject, if he did indeed exist, as described or otherwise. His reported teachings do generally embody some worthy values, though I would suggest that these are derived from the human mind and not some supernatural entity, and can impart something of value to society, but you will not find them embodied in this Catholic Church, this pope, or this papal visit.

In conclusion, I would suggest that a papal visit should never have the status of a state visit, it should be paid for by the Church and its followers, it should be in keeping with its professed mission, and this particular pope should not be considered a fit person to be given entry to Britain. Or at least that is my personal opinion, somewhat coloured by my Quaker ethics.