Roz Kaveney on why she won’t be welcoming the Pope.
I left the church primarily because I ceased to have faith in anything readily identifiable as God, and in the notion of any single privileged route of communication with God in the shape of revelation. The historical crimes of Catholicism – and of all other religions known to me – were a factor in this, as was the fact that my sexuality and gender identity were regarded by the likes of the future Pope Benedict as intrinsic moral disorders and a threat to the human environment as grave as that posed by the destruction of the rain forest.
Yet there is a Catholicism I used to be part of, and miss – a Catholicism of solidarity with the people on each side of you when you kneel to receive Communion, a Catholicism of social action which schoolfriends who stayed believers have given their lives to. As Widdecombe rightly says, some Catholic charities have done immense good in the Third World; as she does not say, they have often done this by ignoring the hierarchy’s strictures on condoms and alliance with radical social forces.
Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/14/benedict-widdecombe-catholicism
The Family Planning Association (fpa) and National AIDS Trust (NAT) on why they won’t be welcoming the Pope.
An open letter from leading UK sexual health charities FPA and NAT (National AIDS Trust).
We are using the Pope’s visit to the UK to highlight the discriminatory nature of his statements and teachings on sexuality and sexual health and wellbeing.
By teaching that modern contraception is ‘intrinsically evil’, the Catholic church prevents women, including married women, from making choices about whether or not to have children, and how to plan and space their children. This leads to unwanted pregnancies, resulting in unwanted children, or abortion. Particularly in developing countries it also results in women being unable to limit the number of pregnancies during their lives, often leading to disability or premature death.
The Catholic church’s position on abortion puts women’s health and lives in danger. Evidence from across the world and throughout history has shown that preventing women from accessing safe and legal abortion does not stop abortions. Instead, women facing unplanned pregnancies take desperate actions, including seeking illegal and dangerous abortions. Approximately 70,000 women a year die as a result of unsafe abortion and hundreds of thousands of others are severely injured and disabled. The Pope’s teachings on abortion serve to perpetuate this situation. The Vatican has used its position in international bodies such as the UN to promote its position on contraception and abortion and to thwart progress recognising women’s sexual and reproductive rights; this impact is felt by women across the world, regardless of their faith.
The full letter: http://www.fpa.org.uk/Campaignsandadvocacy/Advocacyandlobbying/pope
A role call of prominent humanists on why they won’t be welcoming the Pope.
Stephen Fry, Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman, have joined more than 50 academics and authors signing a public letter saying Pope Benedict XVI should not be given a state visit during his upcoming tour of Britain.
The first-ever state papal visit to Britain should not occur due to the Vatican’s record on controversial issues including child abuse, birth control, rights for homosexuals and abortion, they say.
“We reject the masquerading of the Holy See as a state and the pope as a head of state as merely a convenient fiction to amplify the international influence of the Vatican,” they wrote.Fry, the comedian and broadcaster and authors, Pratchett and Pullman joined other signatories including Prof Richard Dawkins, the atheist campaigner, evolutionist, Prof AC Grayling, the philosopher and Sir Tom Blundell, the pioneering biochemist.
While the Pope was free to visit and tour Britain due to his European citizenship and being “the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK”, they said he was nonetheless a head of state that was “responsible” for several controversial decisions.
Geoffrey Robertson QC on why he won’t be welcoming the Pope.
When commentators attack others, readers should clearly be told where they’re coming from. In the case of Austen Ivereigh, for example, he is not a dispassionate commentator but a prolific propagandist for the papal cause.
His piece is in one sense absurd for it criticises me over a lecture I had yet to deliver and, furthermore, Ivereigh is not a lawyer. The UK had diplomatic contacts with the Holy See in 1914, at a time when it had no claim to statehood because it had no territory (the Papal States had been extinguished by the Risorgimento in 1870). So it could only claim to be a state, once again, when Mussolini gave it a palace and gardens under the Lateran treaty in 1929. There is no dispute about this other than by Ivereigh – the Vatican, in its official statement to the UN, bases its claim to statehood on the Lateran treaty and only on the Lateran treaty. The Lateran treaty is crucial to the FCO’s recognition of the Holy See as a state for the simple reason that it is the only basis upon which the Holy See itself claims to be a state.
This is all explained in detail in chapters 4 and 5 of my book, The Case of the Pope ( So let us have no more allegations from papal propagandists that I have made “an elementary error of fact” or any error at all.
Ivereigh concedes that if this is the case (and it is) my point is challenging – as he frames it: “Why recognise a state on the basis of a sordid little treaty to which the UK was not even a party?” Precisely.
Channel 4 News on why many people won’t be welcoming the Pope.
Channel 4 News has compiled the first map of Catholic abuse detailing some 37 cases across England and Wales where Catholic priests have committed sexual offences against children.
Click here to see the interactive map
Over the last few months more evidence has emerged of systematic child abuse within the Catholic church from around the world, writes reporter Antony Barnett.
So what about the Catholic Church in England and Wales? What is the true scope and scale of the child sexual abuse scandals involving Catholic priests in England and Wales?
Channel 4 News has trawled through public records and double checked with court documents to put together a map of Catholic clerical abuse [available at source].
It lists some 37 cases of priests who have committed sexual crimes against children. The map is broken down by region, as defined by the Roman Catholic Dioceses of England & Wales. It contains details of convictions for sexual abuse and the sentences handed down.
The Independent leader editorial on why the country isn’t welcoming the Pope.
It is hard to see the Pope’s state visit to Britain as anything other than ill-timed and misconceived. What details of the planning process have emerged suggest that it has been fraught with difficulty: from the leaked Foreign Office memo suggesting a spoof schedule, to a state banquet that will be attended by neither the principal guest nor the Queen. The £12m cost to British taxpayers is bound to attract opprobrium at a time when swingeing public sector cuts threaten.
The Times survey explaining why almost no one is welcoming the Pope.
Pope Benedict is likely to struggle to win over hearts and minds when he lands in Britain on Thursday after a new Populus poll for The Times revealed that two thirds of respondents are unhappy with the state visit.
The poll came as the Roman Catholic Church said that ticket sales for the three main events in Glasgow, London and Birmingham had fallen thousands short of hoped-for numbers.
Hostility towards the Catholic Church and the fallout from the child sex abuse scandal have all undermined public confidence in the first visit by a pontiff since 1982.
An overwhelming majority of those polled believe the Catholic Church is intolerant and judgmental in its outlook, and Populus found that 83 per cent of respondents thought the Catholic Church had been “dishonest” about the abuse of children.
Women are particularly unhappy about the cost of the state visit, with two thirds objecting to the taxpayer footing the bill.
Men are more likely to oppose the visit on principle because they dislike Pope Benedict’s track record and his views, with 15 per cent saying that he should not enter the country, regardless of cost.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Welcome to Britain, Pope Benedict!,