The Vatican Rag: genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!

September 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm (Catholicism, comedy, Jim D, music, religion)

The great Tom Lehrer:

The thoughtful (Catholic) David Lodge:

“Thus it came about that the first important test of the unity of the Catholic Church after Vatican II, of the relative power and influence of conservatives and progressives, laity and clergy, priests and bishops, national Churches and the Holy See, was a great debate about – not, say, the nature of Christ and the meaning of his teaching in the light of modern knowledge – but about the precise conditions under which a man was permitted to introduce his penis and ejaculate his semen into the vagina of his lawfully wedded wife, a question on which Jesus Christ himself had left no recorded opinion.

“This was not, however, quite such a daft development as it seems on first consideration, for the issue of contraception was in fact one which drew in its train a host of more profound questions and implications, especially about the pleasure principle and its place in the Christian scheme of salvation. It may seem bizarre that Catholics should have been solemnly debating whether it was right for married couplesw to use relaiable methods of contraception at a time when society at large was calling into question the value of monogamy itself – when schoolgirls still in gym-slips were being put on the Pill by their mothers, when young couples were living together in what used to be called sin as a matter of course, adultery was being institutionalised as a part game, and the arts and mass media were abandoning all restraints in the depiction and celebration of sexuality. But in fact there was a more than merely ironic connection between these developments inside and outside the Church. The availability of effective contaception was the thin edge of the wedge of modern hedonism that had already turned Protestantism into a parody of itself and was now challenging the Roman Catholic ethos. Conservatives in the Church who predicted that approval of contraception for married couples would inevitably lead sooner or later to a general relaxation of traditional moral standards and indirectly encourage promiscuity, marital infidelity, sexual experimentation and deviation of every kind, were essentially correct, and it was disingenuous of liberal Catholics to deny it. On the other hand, the conservatives had unknowingly conceded defeat long before by approving, however grudgingly, the use of the Rhythm or Safe Method” ( from ‘How Far Can You Go?‘, pub: 1981)

And, finally (for now) the forensic Geoffrey Robertson  QC:

“It is now clear that tens of thousands – perhaps even approaching 100,000 – children, mainly boys, were sexually molested by priests over a period (1981-2005) coinciding with Cardinal Ratzinger’s responsibility as head “prefect” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the CDF, the Vatican body that oversees canon law proceedings against them). Judicial inquiries have described sexual abuse as “endemic” in Catholic boys’ homes in Ireland. The report of the understated John Jay College inquiry, published in 2004, found 10,667 victims in the US, where over $1.6bn is believed to have been paid in damages so far. A truth commission in Canada is uncovering huge abuse in Catholic-run residential homes. In Melbourne, Australia, the Church has had to compensate 300 victims of 60 molesting priests, only one of whom it has defrocked. Forty-five of Malta’s 850 priests are suspected paedophiles, with multiple victims. Similar incidents are emerging from the priesthood in Austria, Belgium and Germany. It is said that the scale of sex abuse in Latin America and Africa, to which many paedophile priests from America and Europe have been trafficked, will be even worse.

“Abuse happened on this scale – and was allowed to happen – in part because Joseph Ratzinger, both as head of the CDF and as Pope, has insisted for the past 30 years that all such cases be dealt with in secrecy under canon law. As late as July this year, when he promulgated new canon laws about sex abuse (finally making it as serious an offence as ordaining a woman), he deliberately and adamantly refused to direct his bishops to report confirmed or reasonably suspected cases of child rape to the police.

“How on earth do these statehood privileges, extending even to the power to use its own law to the exclusion of local criminal law, come to be vouchsafed to just one out of many religions and NGOs? To qualify as a state in international law, an entity must have territory and must have people – a permanent population.

“As any tourist in St Peter’s Square will recognise, Vatican City has neither. It is simply a palace with a large basilica and ample gardens, less than a quarter of a square mile in size, like so many golf courses. It has no “Vaticanians”, just a few hundred celibate Catholic bureaucrats and some daily workers who come over the road from Italy. It is a palace with museums but no nationals; all its basic services are provided from Italy.

“The Holy See lacks any stable human society. Its only “permanent” member is the pontiff, who prefers on many evenings to pope-copter off to his residence in Italy, Castel Gandolfo. He has no “people” to enter in the Olympics or to play in the World Cup or to serve on any international peacekeeping mission: even the papal guards are Swiss. In reality, Vaticanland is no more a state than Bophuthatswana, or indeed Disneyland – which is larger than the Vatican and has more denizens, dressed in even more colourful costumes.

“So, why does Britain recognise the Vatican as a state when it so obviously is not? I have recently asked this question through Freedom of Information requests, and have been told by the Foreign Office that it does so in reliance on the Lateran Treaty of 1929. The Holy See itself bases its claim to statehood squarely on this document. But the Lateran Treaty was a squalid deal to secure fascism in Italy, negotiated between Benito Mussolini and Pope Pius XI, who hailed the demagogue as “the man sent by providence” to put an end to liberal democracy. In truth, it was not a “treaty” – a written agreement between states – at all, but a deal between one state and its Church, as the Holy See had lost any claim to statehood after its territory (the papal states) was conquered by the army of the Risorgimento in 1870 (from the New Statesman, 6 Sept 2010).

Protest The Pope!

H/t: Jeff Barnhart,  for reminding me about the Tom Lehrer song

15 Comments

  1. Invictus_88 said,

    In point of fact, Vatican City does have residents and does accord to them internationally recognised citizenship.

  2. martin ohr said,

    Predictably those so-called socialists who-ve addled their brains by trying to pretend that organised religion is progressive in order to suck up to Islamic leaders, manage to get their reponses to the Pope and the catholic church completely wrong: http://liammacuaid.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/foreign-dirty-poor-and-ignorant/

    socialist unity repeats the same bollocks too

  3. martin ohr said,

    …looking forward to Socialist Worker leading with the headline ‘Defend the Pope’ for consistency purposes.

  4. martin ohr said,

    The idiot lapsed marxist Macuaid also has this gem on his website:

    “…defend the Koran.” http://liammacuaid.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/where-they-burn-books-they-will-also-burn-people/

  5. resistor said,

    Robertson was forced to resign as a judge at the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone because he publicly declared the guilt of the defendants before they had been given a trial.

    http://www.un.org/apps/news/storyAr.asp?NewsID=10082&Cr=sierra&Cr1=

    Secondly he is married to the gruesome Kathy Lette

    http://sarahditum.com/2009/06/22/hysteric/

    ‘Lette’s brave new world of gender equality is women cracking gags about the laxness of their pelvic floor. You know, if Lette really wanted to speak up for witty ladies, she could stop pulling her idea of funny out of her vagina.’

  6. berenike said,

    God bless the Pope!
    :)

  7. entdinglichung said,

    there is at least a proper trade union working in the Vatican: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_Vatican_Lay_Workers … which even staged in “catholophobic” actions like strikes ;-)

  8. skidmarx said,

    Presenting criticism of an institution as criticism of a group in general.
    Implying ongoing oppression but failing to provide evidence of same.
    Presenting historical oppression as if it proved the existence of an ongoing phenomenon.
    Pointing to reactionary examples of those who would also criticise the institution concerned to try and discredit all opposition.
    Failing to address the particular criticisms made.

    There seems to be a reasonable parallel to be drawn between the Curia elision over at liammacuaid.wordpress.com and the Netanyahoos here who claim that criticism directed at the nature of the Israeli state is “political anti-semitism”.

  9. martin ohr said,

    #8. skidmarx: “what about israel” yawn yawn yawn yawn yawn.

    problem is skidders that you just add weight to the argument that sections of the left are simply obsessed with Israel for reasons completely unrelated to solidarity with Palestinians. The attempts by you and others to shoehorn in a reference to Israel on any subject is pathetic at best.

    Come back when we’re discussing Israel/Palestine and try the same line. If you think that there is any analogy to be had between the Pope and the state of Israel then you are a bigger arsehole than even your reputation suggests.

  10. skidmarx said,

    Resistor – I don’t think it’s fair to blame Robertson for who he’s married to. His attempt to open a new front against the Iranians under the guise of righting historic wrongs is more questionable.

    martin ohr – I was going to say that I just don’t where to start and leave it at that. Perhaps I’ll just comment that when you say that “sections of the left are simply obsessed with Israel for reasons completely unrelated to solidarity with Palestinians”, that is the sort of argument unsupported by evidence that Liam was making about the Pope and the supposed Catholophobia of those who attack him.

  11. jim denham said,

    Martin can speak for himself (and may not agree with me), but it has become increasingly apparent to me over the years the “left” (including the “far left”) has had, since about 1947 or ’48, a serious problem with Jews and with Israel. Let me elucidate:

    1/ Judgements are made, and demands placed upon Israel, that are not done to other nations -even vile, fascistic ones like Iran and China;

    2/ Lenin’s teachings on nationalism (still formally adhered to by the “far-left”) are suspended when it comes to Israel, and Lenin’s opponent in that particular debate, Rosa Luxemburg, suddenly comes into view when the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish nation, comes under discussion. Luxemburg’s position on nationalism is perfectly respectable, btw, but I *do* object when “Leninists” revert to it solely in the case of Israel;

    3/ Public school, upper-class anti-semitism clearly became unacceptable in polite society after about 1945, but after 1948, posh gits who hated Jews, could call themelves “anti-Zionists” with (if required, as it might be in libera/lefty company) the backing of the Comintern; Paul Foot, Tam Dalyell and Richard Ingrams are prime examples of this;

    4/ Anti-Jewish racism is still semi-acceptable (in a way that no other form of racism would be) within the “left” and trade union movement: I can cite chapter and verse on this (and do so below).

    5/ The Stalinist history of “left” anti-semitism has been well-documented by Stan Crooke (http://www.engageonline.org.uk/journal/index.php?journal_id=14&article_id=58), amongst others.

    In conclusion: the movement in solidarity with the Palestinians and their absolutely legitimate demand for nationhood, must of course criticise Israel: but we must *never* sign up with the likes of Hams and those within the Bitish labour movement who would simply deny the rights of Jews to self-determination, and (some of whom) think it’s also OK to racially abuse Jews within trade union meetings: Stuart Richardson and Godfrey Webster of the ISG Both of whom I encountered at Birmingham Trades Council and have no hesitation in denouncing as politically anti-semites, with Richardson verging over to personal anti-Jewish racism) and Bill Goulding of the CP (a vile anti-semite, whose personal anti-Jewish racism it transpires, has been well-known in CP and trade union bureaucratic circles for many years), for instance.

  12. skidmarx said,

    the “left” (including the “far left”) has had, since about 1947 or ’48, a serious problem with Jews and with Israel
    Be a bit clairvoyant if they had a problem with Israel before that. And again the elision from Israel to the Jews begins.

    1/ No evidence for assertion provided.
    2/ No evidence for assertion provided.
    3/ No evidence for assertion provided.
    4/ Buffering…
    5/ You link to Michael Ezra (hedge fund manager and extreme anti-communist) rather than Stan Crooke. And on the SWP he gets as far as suggesting, without evidence that they based a pamphlet on Israel on the work of someone who claimed that Zionist leaders collaborated with the Nazis, not that he denied the Holocaust. Not very impressive.
    Again when you say that someone thinks “it’s also OK to racially abuse Jews within trade union meeting:” and then say that one was “verging over to personal anti-Jewish racism” it seems the latter claim suggests that whatever is meant by the former was not racism, but disagreement with your pro-Israeli views. And “verging” suggests that it wasn’t actually racism but you are trying to imply that he was getting on to it, and presumably your interpretation is fiercely disputed. No quotes on any of this.

  13. jim denham said,

    Skidders: you’re very slow on the uptake, but here goes:

    On #2: just read the stuff by Lenin: it’s easily available (for instance, here: http://www.marxists.org/archive/mattick-paul/1935/luxemburg-lenin.htm ;

    On “left anti-semitism within the unions today:

    Bill Goulding, a long-standing Stalinist (ie: CP member; now retired) of Birmingham Trades Union Council, regularly denounces “Zionism” at meetings.

    At a social event a few years ago, he shouted “Don’t be a Jew!” at someone at the bar who wasn’t buying sufficient drinks, and was taken up by some of those present. He reacted by ranting about “Jews” and “Israel”, claiming that his use of the term “Jew” was justified by the Iraq war, the existance of Israel, and the Afghanistan war – all caused by Jews. When some comrades tried to reason with him, Goulding ranted that Jews are “to blame” for all wars in the present period. The comrades were shocked, but decided to keep quiet about it. Recently, one of those present confirmed to me what had happened and expressed her personal regret that those present had nor taken the matter up more strongly with Goulding.

    Stuart Richardson and Godfrey Webster of ‘Socialist Resistance’ regularly support and asssociate with Goulding, especially when he denounces “Zionism” and “Israel”: Richardson and Webster are fully aware of Goulding’s anti-semitism, and happy to join in with it. And other comrades have, it seems, been covering up for this guy…and still voted with him on Middle East matters at the Trades Council without (it seems) wondering about their anti-Israel stances…

  14. skidmarx said,

    Your characterisation of the politics of those that fight imperialism as more important than that they do fight seems contrary to Lenin’s comment, contra Radek on the Easter Rising:
    To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie WITHOUT ALL ITS PREJUDICES, without a movement of the politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against oppression by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, etc.–to imagine all this is to REPUDIATE SOCIAL REVOLUTION. So one army lines up in one place and says, “We are for socialism”, and another, somewhere else and says, “We are for imperialism”, and that will be a social revolution! Only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic view would vilify the Irish rebellion by calling it a “putsch”.
    You seem happy to say “We are for imperialism”.

    What you say about Goulding does seem quite objectionable, though I bear in mind that many of your assessments of others seem to be lacking in foundation and veracity. Your main objection to the SR members, that they don’t change their political positions for fear of being associated with him assumes that such a change is the only reasonable course of action.

    One swallow doesn’t make a summer. One case of anti-semitism on the Left, reliant on the testimony of an obvious partisan like yourself, is light-years away from demonstrating that “political anti-semitism” is the guiding principle behind anti-Israeli views.

  15. jim denham said,

    Skidiot: nothing’s going to convince you, is it? Even when I provide a specific case in point from direct first-hand experience, you say “one swallow doesn’t make a summer.”

    Lenin’s comments about “revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisi WITHOUT ALL ITS PREJUDICES”, is sort-of true as far as it goes. I think it was intended against elements witin the Bolshevics who expected a chemically-pure “proletarian” revolution. But for too long, this off-hand comment by Lenin has been used to excuse communists going along with all sorts of backwardness on social, cultural and religious matters.

    Anyway: I give up. Live in denial, “comrade.”

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