Part of ‘Shiraz Socialist”s mission is to bring you excellent writing, even (actually, especially) from unlikely sources. Janice Turner, writing in this Saturday’s Times, deals with anti-abortion Tory MP Nadine Dorries in vintage fashion. As the article is shielded behind Murdoch’s paywall, we reproduce it below:
Britian doesn’t want a Mama Grizzly, Nadine
For some time Nadine Dorries MP, has buzzed around public life like a late-summer wasp. Vexing and attention-seeking as her utterances have been – whether calling for abstinence in girls, for disabled Twitter users to lose benefits, or championing the “rights” of high-heel-wearers at work – one hoped she would just exhaust herself banging repeatedly against the media window pane. But now, as her unsheathed sting hovers over the reputations of important and upstanding charities, there is no option but to cross the room with a rolled-up newspaper.
Where did it come from, this grotesque slur that Marie Stopes International and the British Pregnancy Advisory Sevice (BPAS) do not provide objective counseling to women but strong-arm them into abortions? Not from their raft of of strict regulatory bodies or independent inspectors, including the Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health. Nor their women clients, who routinely award satisfaction ratings around 97 per cent. Not even from the Daily Mail, which this week, on a trawl for evidence of abortion-peddling, sent a “pregnant” undercover reporter to BPAS only to find every possible option, including adoption, was evenly presented.
Now we hear that Marie Stopes and BPAS have a “financial incentive” to promote termination – that they are “kept in business” by some pay-per-abortion piece rate. Really? Two long-established, not-for-profit bodies that are awarded contracts by the NHS to supply myriad services from family planning to cervical smears and vasectomies. They just want to kill babies to make a quick buck? Well, they need to work on their productivity: the abortion rate has remained almost static for 15 years.
Speak to either charity and it is bemused, hurt and deeply alarmed. Hithertoo they had heard not a whisper of government concern or criticism. This storm came from nowhere. Because it emantes soley from the mind of Nadine Dorres.
At present a woman visiting Marie Stopes or the BPAS with a “crisis” pregnancy is given a medical check. She can then, if undecided, discuss her fears and options – often immediately, in the same building – with a trained therapist. Under the Dorres amendments to the Health and Social Care Bill, she would be sent away with a list of “independent” counsellors that might include actively anti-abortion groups. An appointment could take weeks, a decision stalled perhaps until the option of termination expires.
Which is what underlies Ms Dorries’ zeal. She has a declared mission to reduce abortions by an annual number plucked from the air: 60,000. (What she will do to assist this extra town of humans not born into the most favourable circumstances we do not learn). Her two parliamentary attempts to cut the abortion time limit from 24 to 20 weeks failed. To mount another openly would mean not just taking on not just the pro-choice lobby but the British medical establishment. Easier, then to circumvent ethical debate and slyly slip her agenda through, even if it means women’s health is imperilled by the increased likelihood of later abortions.
What Ms Dorries and Louise Mensch MP – who, smelling a media picnic, has buzzed right over with her own amendment – do not grasp is that being “pro-choice” means just that. Marie Stopes and BPAS are not “pro-abortion”. If women had been pressured to terminate, would newspaper not have resounded with such scandals? If these charities have any financial incentive at all, it is in a woman leaving their clinics satisfied with her own choice. Marie Stopes wishes to show Ms Dorries case studies of women counselled by it who do not terminate pregnanacies, including a 16-year-old girl who it discovered was being coerced by her family. Ann Furedi, the head of BPAS, has invited the Labour MP Frank Field, co-sponsor of the amendments, to meet and hear about their work: he has nor replied.
Because the object here is not best medical practice, it is only to make noise. Such was the volume of Dorries-generated droning that the Department of Health initially agreed to move towards counselling becoming independent of abortion providers. This was downgraded quickly to pland for a vague consultation, perhaps to avoid trying epistemological questions such as: “Who is truly independent?”
Or more likely Downing Street feared that if government had to step in and create its own abortion counselling body, it might be pricey, considering Marie Stopes alone receives 500,000 calls a year.
Besides, the aggregate of voters who must be grateful for such services must be legion. Though Ms Dorries suggests that she speakes for a groundswell of socially conservative opinion, there is nothing to suggest that abortion is starting to define our political landscape as in the United States, where legal abortion is under grave threat. The British position remains one of tolerant distaste: it is a grave, unpleasant provision, but a necessary one.
The trouble for Nadine Dorries is that God and hellfire don’t scare enough British women into carrying unwanted children. Neither are they swayed overly by the notion that life begins at conception. So anti-abortionists have resorted to appropriating the language of feminism. Abortion is anti-women, they say: it denigrates our nature, our unique capacity to make babies.
Furthermore these groups utilise spurious medical data to “prove” that abortion is detrimental to our health.
Look at the website of Care Confidential, a counselling organisation with branches across the UK. It purports to be even-handed while concealing its faith-based views. Abortion is listed as having many risks: mental illness, alcoholism, panic attacks. Adoption, however, is all sunny upsides: no mention of anguish suffered by generations of women who handed over their children at birth. Wopuld this, under the proposed amendment, qualify as independent advice?
This has been a week of of a dishonest debate and shameful accusations against two charities doing good work. But Nadine Dorries, hoisting the flag of her phoney counselling crusade, would seek to reverse that, How brave she likes to tell us she is; how she yearns for the adulation enjoyed by Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann for her sassy right-wing woman power.
And yet she receives only anger, ridicule and distrust. No Mama Grizzly: just a nasty, whining and bothersome bug.
I’ve been liaising with jazz writer Michael Steinman on the subject of alto saxist Boyce Brown (aka “Brother Matthew”), possibly the most complex and fascinating character in the entire history of jazz. Here’s Michael’s excellent posting on his site ‘Jazz Lives’:
Boyce Brown (1910-1959) is a tantalizing, elusive figure. Although he played hot jazz with the great Chicagoans, he was not one of them — hard-living and hard-drinking. The picture above shows him in 1956, surrounded by Wild Bill Davison, Pee Wee Russell, Ernie Caceres, Eddie Condon, and George Wettling, at his final recording session.
Scott Yanow calls Boyce “eccentric,” “outlandish,” “an erratic individual,” although those characterizations sound ungenerous. I think of the famous lines from T. S. Eliot’s THE FAMILY REUNION, “In a world of fugitives, it is those that turn away that appear to run away.”
In the case of Boyce Brown, it is difficult to know if he chose to turn away from the world of musicians and gigs for the world of the spirit, or if the earthly world scorned him. All we know are the facts of his short life. He became a professional musician at 17 and recorded with some of the greatest Hot players — but his path was an unusual one outside the clubs and recording studios.
Boyce loved marijuana and what it could do, but it didn’t contribute to his death. He didn’t die of tuberculosis or freeze on a Harlem doorstep, but prejudice and sorrow seem to have shortened his life. He is certainly underrated and not well-known or well-remembered. I agree with Jim Denham (of SHIRAZ SOCIALIST) who thinks that Boyce should be both remembered and celebrated. And although I’ve never met Jeff Crompton (of HELLO THERE, UNIVERSE) I and other jazz fans are indebted to him for his generosities. (You can find the blogs written by Jim and Jeff on my blogroll.)
What facts I have collected seem at first an assortment of weird personality traits, but viewed lovingly, they are the markings of a rare bird.
Boyce was someone who “saw” musical notes as colors. He nearly died at birth; the midwife saved him by reshaping his unformed skull. His parents encouraged him to take up the saxophone in hopes that it would strengthen his weak chest. When he played, he had a habit of stretching his neck out like a bird — causing him to be rejected at an audition for the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra.
Eddie Condon said Boyce was “a slow reader,” Condon-speak for partial blindness. Boyce lived with his mother, wrote poetry, listened to Delius. Condon’s SCRAPBOOK OF JAZZ contains Boyce’s whimsical poem about ROYAL-T (slang for the best marijuana), hilarious and tenderly decorated by Boyce himself — a Hot illuminated manuscript.
He named his alto saxophone Agnes, and thought deeply about her personality and moods; if a recording disappointed him, he blamed himself for not being in harmony with his instrument. All of this might seem freakish on first perusal, but other musicians have spoken of their synesthesia (Marian McPartland, whom no one considers an eccentric, told Whitney Balliett that the key of D was daffodil yellow), and Ben Webster, hardly an introvert, called his saxophone Betsy or Ol’ Betsy.
But before we get caught up in the debris of habit and personal history, let us — as Al Smith used to say — look at the record. Or listen. Two, in fact, from 1939: CHINA BOY and JAZZ ME BLUES:
Boyce sounds like himself. Those rolling, tumbling figures are the playing of a man on a mission, someone with a message for us in the eight or sixteen bars allotted him…
…Read the rest here
26 counties are throwing off Rome rule and becoming a republic, a proper modern
capitalist secular republic.
revealed that the Vatican has been advising the Vicar General of the diocese
that the joint State- Church guidelines on reporting sexual abuse are
camps for girls and young women who had babies out of wedlock, runaway domestic
servants and young girls beyond parental control. Notoriously children and young
women in all these categories in Ireland were quite often victims of rape
by those in authority over them. These were institutions totally under the
control of religious orders which inmates voluntarily entered for their
protection. But if they left, the police arrested and returned them to the
the “Celtic Tiger” boom took off.
disgraceful and that “The law of the Land should not be stopped by a crozier or
a collar.” Socialist Party TDs and the chairman of Fine Gael, Charlie Flanagan
called for the expulsion of the Papal Nuncio and Kenny has not ruled out closing
the Irish Embassy to the Holy See.
he wants the Vatican to explain its behaviour, he described the Vatican’s
interference in Irish affairs as “absolutely unacceptable” and “inappropriate”.
He said “ I want to know why this state, with which we have diplomatic
relations,issued a communication,the effect of which ,was that very serious
matters of the abuse of children in this country was not reported to the
will mark the end of “ The seal of the confession”, that priests will not be
excused from reporting confessed crimes to the Garda.
everybody and that Fianna Fáil would support any initiative to ensure it never
the failure of the state not the church.
really hidden and the beatings and psychological torture were completely open
and were the declared policies of the institutions concerned. Many religious
orders eg Christian Brothers have already withdrawn from their old roles
following other scandals but this could mark the end of the policy of
subcontracting educational, care and medical institutions to the church, which
has existed since the founding of the Free State.
sure there is not a retreat when the pressure dies down. Fine Gael and Labour
may be happy to push the secular agenda, although that is far from guaranteed by
their history, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin will struggle to legislate to make the
Church as an institution subservient to the state without destroying their
way since the 1948 inter-party government grovelled at the feet of John Charles
McQuaid and betrayed Noel Browne and the women and children of Ireland.
Comrade Stan writes:
In case you have not seen it already, this is the leaflet distributed by SP(S), SWP, and Solidarity outside Parkhead at a Celtic game on 1st May (ironically, of course, the day of international workers unity):
“All my life I’ve stood up for the underdog. If something’s wrong I speak out – with a voice that’s recognised and heard. Just contrast that with the silence -or at best squeezed out, timid qualifications – from Scottish parliamentarians about the life-threatening nail-bomb attacks on Neil Lennon, Paul McBride and Trish Godman. They try to blame the victims for being outspoken, uppity – and, yes Catholic and proud of it!
“Like all these Celtic-supporting people I’ve also been warned by the anti-terrorist squad that I may be a target. Well, threats have never silenced me and won’t now. I will continue to speak out loudly and forcefully about anti-Irish Catholic bigotry. And if you elect me to the Scottish parliament on Thursday I promise that it will be the first issue I take up.”
Fortunately, this sectarian and religious bigot and bullshitter wasn’t elected.
A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland’s Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police — a disclosure with the potential to fuel more lawsuits worldwide against the Vatican, which has long denied any involvement in coverups.
The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican’s rejection of an Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify paedophile priests.
The letter’s message undermines persistent Vatican claims that the church never instructed bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. Instead, the letter emphasizes the church’s right to handle all child-abuse allegations and determine punishments in house rather than hand that power to civil authorities.
Catholic officials in Ireland declined requests for comment on the letter, which RTE said it received from an Irish bishop.
Child-abuse activists in Ireland said the 1997 letter should demonstrate, once and for all, that the protection of pedophile priests from criminal investigation was not only sanctioned by Vatican leaders but ordered by them. A key argument employed by the Vatican in defending dozens of lawsuits over clerical sex abuse in Canada and the United States is that it had no role in ordering local church authorities to suppress evidence of crimes.
“The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican’s intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities,” said Colm O’Gorman, director of the Irish chapter of human rights watchdog Amnesty International. “And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere.”
To this day, the Vatican has yet to endorse any of the Irish church’s three major policy documents since 1996 on reporting suspected child abuse to civil authorities. In his 2010 pastoral letter to the Irish people condemning pedophiles in the ranks, Pope Benedict XVI faulted Ireland’s bishops for failing to follow canon law and offered no explicit endorsement of child-protection efforts by the Irish church or state.
Policy in place for years?
O’Gorman — who was raped repeatedly by an Irish priest when he was an altar boy and was among the first victims to speak out in the mid-1990s — said evidence is mounting that some Irish bishops continued to follow the 1997 Vatican instructions and withheld reports of crimes against children as recently as 2008.
A third major state-ordered investigation into Catholic abuse coverups, concerning the southwest Irish diocese of Cloyne, is expected to be published within the next few months.
Two state-commissioned reports published in 2009 unveiled decades of coverups of abuse involving tens of thousands of children since the 1930s.
Irish church leaders didn’t begin telling police about suspected pedophile priests until the mid-1990s. In January 1996, Irish bishops published a groundbreaking policy document spelling out their newfound determination to report all suspected abuse cases to police.
But in the January 1997 letter seen Tuesday by the AP, the Vatican’s diplomat in Ireland at the time, Archbishop Luciano Storero, told the bishops a senior church panel in Rome, the Congregation for the Clergy, had decided the Irish church’s year-old policy of “mandatory” reporting of abuse claims conflicted with canon law.
Irish church told to follow ‘canon law’
Storero emphasized in the letter that the Irish church’s policy was not recognized by the Vatican and was “merely a study document.” He said canon law, which required abuse allegations to be handled within the church, “must be meticulously followed.”
Storero, who died in 2000, wrote, without elaborating, that mandatory reporting of child-abuse claims to police “gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature.”
He warned that bishops who followed the Irish child-protection policy and reported a priest’s suspected crimes to police ran the risk of having their in-house punishments of the priest overturned by the Congregation for the Clergy.
The letter, originally obtained by the RTE religious affairs program Would You Believe? said the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome was pursuing “a global study” of sexual-abuse policies and would establish worldwide child-protection policies “at the appropriate time.”
The Vatican’s child-protection policies today remain in legal limbo. It currently advises bishops worldwide to report crimes to police only in a legally non-binding lay guide, but it does not mention this in the official legal document provided by another powerful church body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which continues to stress the secrecy of canon law.
The central message of Storero’s letter was reported second-hand by two priests as part of Ireland’s mammoth investigation into the 1975-2004 coverup of hundreds of child-abuse cases in the Dublin Archdiocese. The letter itself, marked “strictly confidential,” has never been published before.
So let’s review:
Pope to the world: “We will root out the scourge of child abuse among the clergy, and co-operate with authorities to bring these abusers to justice.”
Pope to the clergy: “If you catch each other banging kids DON’T TELL THE COPS AND KEEP IT QUIET.”
Just like Jesus would have wanted!
Source: Live Leaks
(Above) 1928: Louis with Earl Hines (piano), Zutty Singleton (drums).
The widely commercial attraction of Halloween trick or treating that is a mainstay of North American life is gaining popularity at the expense of Guy Fawkes celebrations, a night of bonfires and fireworks which commemorate a 1605 Catholic plot to blow up England’s Parliament and bring down King James I.
Traditionally, children made an effigy of “Gunpowder Plot” conspirator Guy Fawkes and paraded him down streets, asking passers-by to “spare a penny for the Guy.” They would then use the money to buy fireworks and burn the effigy on a bonfire.
Although British municipalities still hold large public fireworks displays, few people say they make effigies or light bonfires in their own gardens these days and are more likely to participate in Halloween festivities.
“It’s really shifted to Halloween from Guy Fawkes in the UK,” said Robert Fisher, 56, taking a break near his office in central London. “Halloween has really taken off.”
As a child Fisher said he never went disguised as a pirate or goblin from house to house to beg for candy, as children in his neighborhood do today.
“That was an American thing.”
Critics blame the shift on excessive municipal safety regulations and the commercial exploitation of Halloween.
“It’s much bigger than Guy Fawkes,” Graham Gibbon, a solicitor, said of contemporary Halloween festivities.
As a child he and his friends collected money for their Fawkes effigy, he said. His children, however, do not.
Fisher, from London’s East End who will light some fireworks for his five-year old daughter at the weekend, agreed that Guy Fawkes night had diminished in importance.
“In my day, Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night was a family affair,” he said. “I still light the fireworks but we haven’t invited anyone. We just have a little display.”
Both Guy Fawkes night and Halloween trace their roots to harvest festivals that took place across the northern hemisphere up until the 17th century, according to Stephen Sayers, a social psychologist from Leeds Metropolitan University.
The term bonfire comes from “bone fire,” when people burned the leftovers of their village feasts — including animal carcasses, he said.
Newman (left): ”Conscience first, Pope afterwards.”
Yesterday I joined the anti-Pope protesters at Cofton Park, Birmingham. I last visited this place about thirty years ago when us Longbridge shop stewards put it to rather better use.
The anti-Pope protest was very, very tiny: little more than a dozen of us; but then( as we asked the left-footers in the course of our generally good-humoured exchanges), how many did Jesus start out with?. To be honest, I hadn’t intended to stay very long, but because we were so few in number I felt obliged to stick around. I’m glad I did. Not since the miners’ strike have I felt so comfortable on a demo: so sure I was on the right side and glad – proud – to be there. Our emphasis was on human rights – especially those of women, gays, lesbians and transgender people. We also raised the issue of the Church’s cover-up of child abuse, and the effective genocide in Africa caused by the Church’s lies about condoms. We said, and chanted, nothing that could possibly be interpreted as bigoted anti-Catholicism. We made the point that a pastoral visit (as in 1982) would be unobjectionable. But a “state” visit, subsidised by British workers at a time of cuts, is outrageous.
I knew I was on the right side here. This was despite (or maybe because of ) the fact that no-one else from the organised “left” was there. ‘Shiraz’ has already given ample coverage to the extent to which the SWP/Respect -influenced “left” has sold the pass to organised religion, betraying and misrepresenting at least one hundred and sixty years of Marxist opposition to religious superstition.
From Cofton Park, the old bigot went on to Birmingham Oratory to beatify Cardinal Newman. Newman is on record as rejecting sainthood in advance, and also being (shall we say) somewhat non-committal on the question of papal infalibility: “I shall drink – to the Pope, if you please, – still, to Conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards”, he said.
In fact, there is a delicious postscript to Newman’s story. He was virtually “married” to the Reverend Father Ambrose St. John (1815 – 24 May 1875) and when his own time came, insisted upon being buried with him. Whether the two were actually what we’d today call “gay” in a physical sense, cannot of course, be known. What is beyond doubt is that the two loved each other, and that Newman wished to be buried with his friend/companion – which he was.
But here’s a strange thing: when the whole “beatification” business started back in 2008, the left-footers decided to “transfer” Newman’s remains away from the grave he shared with Ambrose in Rednal, Birmingham. Well, they opened the grave and found…nothing. No corpse, no bones: nothing.
According to the official pamphlet I was given at the Cofton Park gig, the explanation for this is that “the coffin was wooden and the burial took place at a damp site.”
But that is not the true explanation; this is:
“On a wet October day in 2008, an assortment of priests and grave-diggers arrived at the cemetery in Rednal, armed with shovels and a mechanical digger. They planned to transfer Newman’s remains to a tomb back at his church in Birmingham. Nothing was found except the brass name-plate and a few bits of rotten wood. A solution to the mystery was discovered in the archives of the Birmingham Post. A journalist at the burial reported that, on Newman’s orders, the grave was filled with compost to hasten decomposition.”
Just a couple of thoughts on the Pope visit:
1) The Catholic Church and fascism
There’s a piece by the smug, moon-faced idiot who edits CiF Belief, in which he attempts to close down debate while stampeding for the moral high ground. Contra Brown, it is entirely appropriate to raise the Church’s relationship with Nazism, because Pope Benedict gave a speech on it, in which he failed to acknowledge either the religious and spiritual aspects of the Third Reich or the role of his church in railroading war criminals to safety.
The speech itself reads like a CiF column. The fact is that, despite having the evidence, we atheists have lost the argument on this one. People will always believe that Nazism and Stalinism are atheist ideologies and atheist crimes. Sam Harris writes that ‘[t]he romantic thesis lurking here is that reason itself has a ‘shadow side’ and is therefore no place to turn for the safeguarding of human happiness.’ Against sentiment such evidence is useless. But it’s also worth repeating, whenever this lie is broadcast, Pascal Bruckner’s point that Nazism and communism were both overthrown by the secular, reason-based democracies of Enlightened Europe and America.
2) Celebrating the Geopolitical Epicentre of the Culture of Death
The visit kicked off with a comment from the Pope’s right hand man to the effect that multiculturalism had turned the UK into a third world country. Any American or European politician, making this Powellite slur on our country, would be condemned rightly as a racist. But Kasper’s words stirred no reaction from the pro-faith left, which will forgive and forget just about anything. Benedict’s Edinburgh speech was along the same lines with lots of pissing and moaning about multiculturalism, the marginalisation of faith, and the degenerate state of the UK. The British taxpayer is in the surreal position of paying to be insulted.
Recently there have been more and more clerics hectoring the nation about its deterioration into sexual permissiveness and metropolitan pretensions. Earlier in the month we had the archbishop of Westminster complaining that the passage of gay rights law had turned the UK into a ‘selfish, hedonistic wasteland’ and London into ‘the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death’. What’s worse is that his condemnation of liberal, cosmopolitan Britain is being listened to with sage nods and serious expressions because the rest of us also, by some tragic perversity, love to denigrate this aspect of contemporary life in the UK.
The point is that if you condemn the Vatican’s reactionary statements on this you also have to condemn the intellectuals and cultural commenters who refuse to stand up for the UK’s diverse and urban way of life. Hedonism, intoxication, irreverence and sexual freedom should be celebrated and valued, and in time they may have to be fought for.
Read Laurie Penny in the NS:
But why on earth shouldn’t we congratulate ourselves? We are one of the most tolerant cultures on the planet, taking a stand, in the midst of domestic turmoil, against global religious oppression. Can’t we feel just a little bit proud?
If it is anti-Catholic to believe that child-rape ought to be eliminated, that stopping the spread of AIDs in Africa trumps religious squeamishness about condom use, and that human happiness is more important than dogmatic adherence to cobweb-crusted notions of purity and morality, then I for one am proud to be part of the geopolitical culture of death.
And the Pope has the nerve to link Nazism and the Holocaust with atheism !
Today’s Guardian (all to often the mouthpiece for religious apologists), publishes some good letters on the whole subject of Catholicism and Nazism:
I feel compelled to respond to the pope’s comments on atheist extremism (Report, 17 September). The reality for many Catholics is that while accepting guidance from the church on aspects of faith, they are inclined to discount its strictures when it strays into the realms of politics and the private lives of others. This is possible because the Catholic church (like most organised religion in this country) is largely confined to the private sphere, with only a marginal influence on public life, which is as it should be. It is worth contrasting this to those countries where the Catholic church has been able to wield greater influence over the institutions of state. At its best, such influence has led to social, cultural and economic backwardness. At its worst, it has seen the church lend its support to almost every rightwing dictatorship willing to deploy death squads against popular demands for the most basic political, social and economic rights.
And as for the Nazis, perhaps the pope should consider the role the deeply held antisemitism of the prewar church played in creating an environment in which the antisemitism of the Nazi party could lead to such a great inhumanity as the Holocaust.
• So the pope blames the Holocaust on atheism. In 1944, while Pope Benedict was in the Hitler Youth, my father Renato Sorba – a non-believer – joined the Italian partisans in Piemonte at the age of 17 to fight against fascism. During the second world war Nazi Germany’s closest allies were Catholic Italy, Catholic Croatia and Catholic Vichy France (while Polish Catholics slaughtered their Jewish neighbours in Jedwabne). Officially neutral but actually very pro-German were Catholic Spain and Catholic Ireland. After the war Nazi war criminals fled to the warm embrace of Catholic South America. Why? Because they had been defeated by the atheist USSR.
One of us is a fool who should know better. I guess it must be me because the pope, after all, is infallible.
• Whatever Hitler’s beliefs may have been, most of the ordinary Germans who carried out his orders to exterminate European Jews were either Lutherans or Catholics. Both churches portrayed the Jews as Christ-killers for many centuries, and it was not until 1965 that the Roman Catholic church abandoned its dogma that Jews both past and present were responsible for the death of Jesus, and that God had rejected the Jews because of this. This vile theology undoubtedly made it easier for many Catholic Germans to send their Jewish neighbours to the gas chambers with a clear conscience.
Dr David Harper
• In 1941 Adolf Hitler said, in My New Order, “Christianity [is] the foundation of our national morality”. You would have thought that an organisation like the Vatican, with such close ties to the Nazis in 1933 (the year they signed the Reichskonkordat), would know that.
See also: Hitler’s Pope by John Cornwell
A lot more nasty photos of Nazis hobnobbing with Catholic bigwigs, here.
Can’t resist sharing his piece in response to being denounced by the Daily Mail:
The most laughable element of the Mail’s weird outburst today is the way that the paper wants its readers, whoever the poor darlings may be, to see agnosticism, atheism, humanism and secularism as ‘fashionable’ and ‘established’ and therefore to figure themselves as maverick outsiders storming the ramparts of the liberal establishment. Yeah, right.
Actually, that’s not true, the most laughable element is their outrage at the idea we signatories are not being very hospitable to a visitor from overseas.
Let us think for a moment about the richness of that before we vomit with laughter. The Daily Mail if you please, wagging its finger about kindness to visitors from overseas and hospitality to foreigners in our midst.
Maybe funnier even than that is the happy circumstance that the daily giveaway on the front page today is a DVD by that proud atheist David Attenborough, who recently revealed the hate-mail and threats he has received over the years from those who do not believe in Darwinian science.
Because I have a theological turn of mind, the people I feel most sorry for, and always have, are those who work for the paper. I have never met a Mail journalist whose first words weren’t an apology. ‘We’re not all Paul Dacre types….’ they mournfully beg us to believe. Well, leave before it’s too late! Just imagine that there really is a St Peter to greet you after death. Suppose he asks what you did with your life, your mind, your heart, your whole being and your immortal soul and that you have to reply you that wrote for the Daily Mail. Wow!
And the killer line:
Today’s headline and the leader inside however actually made me genuinely guffaw and wriggle with delight. It is the final proof, if proof were needed, that the Daily Mail is not just actually wicked (intentionally, knowingly lying) but actually now quite, quite mad.