It is a philosophical truism that British Society as we know it today is the outcome of two value traditions, the Greco Roman and the Judaic. These values are deeply embedded in our institutions, the legal system, education and the common ways men adopt when dealing with others. The quotation from Protagurus in the title to this piece is completed by the words ‘of things that are that they are and things that are not that they are not.’ The Pope urges us to give room in our discourse to Christian values and specifically to Roman Catholic values and social polices. The first of these is part of the Judao tradition while the latter is the outcome of an all-man theocratic autocracy headed by the Pope.
The Greco Roman tradition give us our concepts of universal rights, equality and justice which embraces men and women. So far as I know there are no societies for the propagation of these values as such although there are many committed to the expression and protection of them. These values are in the public cockpit of discussion as are distinctively Christian values and feelings about the world.
What then is the Pope really talking about? His sorrows and fears are threefold. First the number of individuals throughout the Western world who are attending Church services and listening to sermons about how they should behave and God’s purpose for them in this world is declining. Secondly, the vast majority of educated individuals reject Catholic social views and regard them as repugnant. Thirdly, the public is disgusted by the behaviour of Roman Catholic priests. When we bring these matters together they amount to a rejection of the Pope’s view of the world and its inhabitants.
It is personally repugnant to me to witness the Pope blessing young children by caressing them and his talk of the Church belonging to them. The Church belongs to an aging all-male theocracy led by an aging man a long way from the social reality of his listeners.
Religion is a private matter. The views of Christians are of interest insofar as they bear on the issues confronting real people. In a social democracy people trust each other to make sense of competing philosophies and viewpoints. The Pope is asking for privilege. Listen to me, pay heed to me. Of course, if you have anything to say that is relevant. Why not? But let us insist. We, the people, will judge, and we have little time to spare for social reactionaries. Men (and women) are the judges of all things.