The Pope’s historic visit to Britain is evangelical. He wishes to persuade us, we British citizens, that Roman Catholicism and other Christian religious persuasions should be given a greater voice – should be more persuasive -in British Society. Cardinal Casper, in his ill-chosen comments, has given the game away. He said of Britain that ”you think at times that you have landed in a Third World country’ and that we British have strayed into false ways that ‘a new and aggressive atheism pervaded Britain and that Christians were at a disadvantage in this country.’ I think he means that Roman Catholics lack the influence that its historical religious role entitles it to perform.
It is true that Britain is a multi cultural society and no bunch of religious and political nuts can change it. It is true that also the Britain has a secular society and that as such it denies (in practice if not in form) any special or privileged position in it for organised religions. But just as true our society recognises the right of religious and other societies to practice and proslytise their views. I believe it to be true, although I accept that their is evidence to the contrary, that British society is deeply humanist and respecting of the equal rights of all citizens and to everyday dealings; that it respects human dignity and diversity.These trends to an egalitarian humanist society are irreversible, thank God for that.
We, the citizens of this unsatisfactory country called Britain, have no wish to accept the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope will enjoy partly at the expense of you, the taxpayer, a State visit. It reminds us that the Pope is the Head of a tinpot autocratic state. This Papal State is a reactionary force in the world which works against the enlargement of human rights. This hegonomy operates as an unpleasant male influence on all issues of human sexuality. The Papal attitudes to contraception, abortion and population control are illiberal and immoral; and its recent and continuing criminal shielding of child-abusing priests is entirely repugnant and disgusting. The Roman Catholic Church puts its own interests before those of its victims.
The Popes visit coincides with the emergence of scientific proofs of the improbabily of the creation of a God given universe. It follows from this that the belief that the Roman Catholic Church inherits God’s purpose for we humans is preposterous. This Pope, as some but not all of his predecessors, has good human qualities. They need not be denied. But he presides over a Church deep in the mire of a criminal conspiracy to hide from the police the involvement of numerous priests in the abuse of young children. By your deeds will you be judged. Go back home, dear Pope, and sort it out in cooperation with police and prosecuting authorites around the world, stop your socially harmful medling, cease your all male theocracy. When you have done all these things you might be more welcome in civilised societies.
What is the answer we British secular humanists should give to the Pope’s pleadings that we should give more influence to his Church. I do no wish to be rude but I suggest the answer should be, ‘Not on your nellie.’