Pontifical departure

February 11, 2013 at 5:18 pm (Catholicism, Champagne Charlie, child abuse, homophobia, misogyny, religion)

Perhaps covering up for child abuse, promoting anti-gay bigotry, spreading AIDS throughout the world, and explaining away his organisation’s hatred of 50% of the human race finally wore him out?

Anyway, the former Hitler Youth member  (in fairness, he claims he had no choice) has decided to stand down. Pity his organisation (the Church, not the Hitler Youth) survives.

Pope Benedict XVI

“Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
―    Denis Diderot


  1. Jim Denham said,

    Is “Cardinal” Nooman a believer?

    This astonishing piece of apologism has just appeared at ‘Socialist Unity’:

    The shock resignation of His Holiness Benedict XVI is an occassion for reflection on the stature of a man who I feel has been an impressive religious leader. In Britain, however B16′s reputation is impossible to seperate from a rising tide of anti-Catholic feeling, which has obscured any real examination of his substantive record. The hostility manifested itself through enraged liberal opinion when B16 visited Britain in 2010, prompting demonstrations from both bigots and the tedious liberal left. In a photograph of one of these Guardianista “bash the pope” demonstrations I saw the marvellously ironic slogan, without any sense of self-awareness “We don’t want the Pope in our tolerant country”

    It is interesting to revisit the arguments that arose in 2010. Writing as a left wing British Catholic on Labour List at that time, David Green, explained his dismay at the hostility being exhibited to the Pope’s visit.

    Notwithstanding people’s misgivings about the present Pope, a state visit to the UK is an opportunity for Catholics to have some limelight for a change; to feel united, proud, and to showcase their faith for a few short days. Whatever your views of the actions of the church’s official leaders, these are reasonable and honourable desires by Catholics and they deserve to be respected.

    When it comes to the monarchy, I am a convinced republican; but if the Queen were to receive a reception abroad like that the Pope has received from some people, I’d feel at least a little insulted as a British citizen. It doesn’t matter that I disagree with the way our country’s figurehead is selected – as a figurehead for the nation, it would be reasonable to interpret the reception given to her as indication of the regard and respect given to all of us.

    It’s for this reason that I, and a lot of other Catholics, are upset by the crass, snide and insensitive tone of many people on the left. There is a current of opinion which appears to believe that the Catholic faith is defined purely by the issues where they disagree, and by its controversies. It isn’t. These are the abberations of the faith, not its affirmation. To say otherwise is, by implication, an insult to everything else that the Catholic faithful believe.

    Brendan o’Neill of Spiked on-line can spot a chattering class moral panic when he sees one:

    The pope’s criticism of condom-use ‘sabotages the fight against AIDS’, says a Guardian columnist (leading an online commenter to say: ‘the genocidal freak should be tried for crimes against humanity.’) The New Statesman reckons the Vatican has done more to spread AIDS around Africa than ‘prostitution and the trucking industry combined’. Stephen Fry, that unofficial High Representative of the chattering classes, says the pope has caused devastation in Africa by ‘spreading the lie that condoms actually increase the incidence of AIDS’.

    Reuben at the Third Estate took up the argument.

    The insistence that the “aids spreading” pontiff has a moral obligation to condone contraception is, in my opinion, half baked and politically problematic. The most obvious problem with this line of argument is that (notwithstanding lower level catholics spreading the myth that condoms don’t work) the church’s teachings on sexual behaviour are not actually conducive to the spread of HIV. Sex within marriage but without condoms is likely to keep people relatively safe. The usual objection here is that people obviously won’t stay monogamous ( because, you know, having sex is a natural urge man), and so the pope, by this slightly twisted logic, is responsible for the consequences of condom-free polygamy. But if people arent obeying the Vatican’s strictures against sleeping around, then why would they simultaneously base their decision on whether to skin up simply on what the pope says? This indeed might explain the lack of empirical evidence for popery spreading AIDS: as Brennan O’ Neil notes, the 5 countries in Africa most affected by aids are all minority-catholic.

    But let us, for the sake of argument, assume that the Vatican’s position on contraception hinders, albeit indirectly, the fight against HIV. The idea that this makes the pontiff morally obliged to alter the church’s position on contraception is nonetheless misplaced. Were Benedict a public health professional I would absolutely expect him to promote the use of condoms. Yet for better or worse, his job as pontiff is to promote what he and the church consider to be the word of God. Now, as an atheist I am not an expert on such matters. Yet from what I understand the moral strictures of the lord do not change all that regularly – and are liable to remain constant even as their practical consequences are altered.

    Kevin Rooney understood where the criticism was coming from:

    The first thing to note is that the intolerant view of Catholicism that has been so visible in recent weeks has come not from the working classes or from the traditional establishment, but rather from so-called liberals, humanists and secularists, who try to use science and rationalism to discredit and ridicule expressions of the Catholic faith. … …

    Unlike the anti-Catholics of the past, who took issue with specific aspects of the Catholic faith, the New Atheists tend to oppose faith itself, on the smug basis that they ‘know best’. As the front page of the Guardian weekend magazine recently revealed, the new ‘Gods’ of contemporary society are the ‘Gods of science’: Stephen Hawking, Brian Cox, David Attenborough and Richard Dawkins – and sadly, some of them seem every bit as intolerant as the Catholic hierarchy they despise. While posing as secular liberals, the pope’s opponents display a breathtaking intolerance for any views that do not conform to their rationalist outlook.

    Spiked On-line writers have their own particular animus against the pressure towards ideological uniformity and consensus, which can sometimes lead them to be willfully contrarian, but sometimes it can mean they are absolutely on the money. Frank Furedi, wrote a storming demolition of the pressure of conformity that was leading to the anti-Catholic mood, it is worth reading his article in full:

    Tatchell has indicted the pope on the grounds that he is out of touch with British public opinion, is doctrinaire and believes in traditional conservative values. Consequently, the world would be a better place without him. Back in the seventeenth century, a French Catholic political theorist expressed a similar form of bigoted intolerance by stating: ‘I have the right to persecute you because I am right and you are wrong.’ That is more or less the message of the contemporary anti-pope crusade. The principal hallmark of today’s new breed of secular moraliser is unabashed intolerance, and a demand that everyone conform to their zero-tolerance values.

    Historically, religious intolerance was focused on denouncing deviant theological beliefs – for example the heresy of Pelagianism or Tritheism. Of course we still have this form of traditional intolerance today, but we now also have to contend with its younger cousin: intolerance towards religion. Increasingly, religion is indicted for taking its own doctrines too seriously – that is, for being a religion. Today’s opportunistic atheists even take it upon themselves to get stuck into the theological controversies of religions that they actually despise. So critics who claim to hate the pope go out of their way to reassure ordinary, genuine Catholics that they are only targeting Catholic leaders who force their traditional dogma on the church. Emulating the cavalier manner in which Western politicians explain to their Muslim constituents what true Islam means, anti-papal crusaders tell ordinary Catholics that they are on the same side and should all join in the battle against the forces of evil.

    Elsewhere, Carl P, in a substantive article on Though Cowards Flinch, demolished the myths about Benedict XVI allegedly covering up child abuse, and the risible conceit by some liberal fantasists that the Pope should be arrested.

    [The accusations that the Pope covered up child sex abuse] all runs contrary to the work carried out by Ratzinger outing child molesters in the church later on, initiating “strict new norms for dealing with sexual abuse cases”, and in his words “ridding the filth”.

    Certainly the point that Benny has done a good deal addressing child abuse in the Catholic church is not lost on some of the nations top Catholic writers. Damian Thompson reminds us that it was Benedict who prosecuted Mexican paedophile Priest Marcial Maciel Degollado despite pressure from popular support, including “Cardinal Angelo Sodano and John Paul’s secretary, Msgr (now Cardinal) Stanislaw Dziwisz.”

    Some members of the church were keen to shove the issue to one side for the reason that Degollado was a ferocious fundraiser, having secured assets worth around twenty-five billion Euros. In a line that can hardly be matched for its dry wit, Thompson notes that: “This old pervert was the most effective fundraiser in the history of the Church – and the most crooked since Judas Iscariot.”

    Elsewhere, Thompson cannot hardly keep his dislike of the Pope John Paul II contained. In an article bound to wind up many supporters of the previous Pope, citing heavily from noteworthy writer John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter, the Vatican has not revealed the real Ratzinger story because “to make Ratzinger look good, they’d have to make others look bad [and] to salvage the reputation of Benedict XVI it might be necessary to tarnish that of Pope John Paul II”.

    There are many views and actions of the Catholic Church that are worthy of legitimate criticism. However, demonisation of the Church in modern Britain predicated upon a fallacy that religious participation in society is an entirely negative phenomenon. This ignores the teaching of the church in favour of peace, against racism, against materialism, and in favour of social solidarity, charity and compassion. The Catholic Church is one of the most important sponsors of the “Strangers into Citizens” campaign to provide a root to legal residency in the UK for those who are living and working here illegally. The Catholic Bishops oppose the renewal of Trident; and Catholic Bishops spoke out against the Iraq war.

    Meanwhile, the Catholic Church did grasp the nettle. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, leader of Catholics in England and Wales, told a news conference during the pontiff’s visit that the pope would pay tribute to the democratic traditions of British society.

    “I think while he fully on the record recognises the importance in modern democratic societies of institutions being secular, he expects secular institutions to have an open and positive attitude towards religious faith“.

    Benedict XVI has defended the right for religion to be a public and not a private affair, and condemned the shallowness of materialism and celebrity. Indeed the argument from the Church that there is such a thing as public morality, and a need for social solidarity is a welcome refutation of the Thatcherite ethos of private self interest.

    It is neither possible nor desirable to ignore the influence of religious faith in shaping our society; the question is how we strike the balance so that the views of religious communities are respected and acknowleged, while not allowing them to dictate to those of us who do not share their faith.

  2. paul fauvet said,

    I got in first with a comment on the Socialist Unity blog hostile to Andy Newman’s “His Holiness” ramblings. I remarked that resigning was the first decent thing that Ratzinger had ever done. I then suggested it would be excellent news if his successor were to be somebody who believes in the ordination of women, who is committed to bringing to justice all priests who have abused children, who reverses the crazed policy of opposition to all artificial forms of contraception, and who extends a hand of freinship to the gay community. But I conceded that this was wishful thinking, and the successor is likely to be yet another ghastly reactionarry.

    And guess what – my comment has disappeared! A miracle! Or maybe Andy has been taking lessons from the body Ratzinger once headed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Inquisition.

  3. Red Skippy said,

    All the little right wing ducks in a neat row. How charming

  4. modernity's ghost said,

    Astonishing what happens when socialists succumb to political degeneration, the lead sentence at SU blog gives it away:

    “The shock resignation of His Holiness Benedict XVI is an occassion for reflection on the stature of a man who I feel has been an impressive religious leader.

    Thankfully, not all SU blog readers are taken in by Comrade Cardigan’s genuflecting to a reactionary, otherwise known as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger.

  5. Jimmy Glesga said,

    Maybe NEWMAN had a pleasant encounter with a dirty beast in his youth. I vaz forced tae wear the khaki tailor made shorts ordered by my parents. I vaz glad tae hear of the death of the great leader Adolf. I did know a few of dem Jews. They seemed all right at first but they killed the baby Jesus. So vie sent dem tae the holiday camps so they could have a good time and repent. Vie cleansed dem and made dem happy. Do Da. Vie vill hab a new black Pope who vill be moderate and kind to gays an so on.

  6. martin ohr said,

    Newman’s article is amazing, in contrast to his thousands of reactionary genuflecting words, I summed up the feelings of the rest of world on twitter:

    Ex-nazi responsible for covering-up institutional child-abuse retires as world head of superstition- Good. We can do without any replacement

  7. martin ohr said,

    on sophistunity.com Andy and co are getting all hot and bothered defending Ratzinger from his involvement in the hitler youth.

    Although it was compulsory to join (and history is unclear whether Ratzinger joined up willingly or was dragged there kicking and screaming) there are two obvious points to be made.
    1) Lots of teenagers didn’t join, they refused and waiting to be arrested, fled the country, or kept their heads down and moved to other cities. Or worse still; my relatives were shipped of never to be seen again- they had no choice in the matter
    2) For someone who claimed (until yesterday at least) to be God’s representative on earth. When faced with a unique temptation to act for evil or do the right thing and act for good- he choose evil. Be clear about it, the hitler youth were no boy scouts.

    Ratzinger -the teenage future head of the Catholic faith- did zero to oppose the 20th century’s most horrific acts when he had the chance. At the very least any left critique of his career should note that.

  8. Matt said,

    There’s enough to beat Ratzinger with – cover up of clerical child abuse, opposition to condom use in Africa – without trying to prove he’s a Nazi.

    Ratzinger claims to have been an unwilling and unenthusiastic member of the Hitler Youth from 14 to 16, when he was conscripted into the Luftwaffe. Even if he was a willing and enthusiastic member, he was a teenager. Many people involved in far-right organisations in their teenage or young adult years have since moved to the left, Günter Grass and Ricky Tomlinson for example (I’m not saying Ratzinger has, just that people shouldn’t be judged by what they do or may have done as teenagers).

    • martin ohr said,

      My point isn’t really that he was or wasn’t a Nazi. More that 1) it’s untrue to say that he didn’t have a choice in the matter
      2) if I believed in God, I’d expect god’s representative on earth ( and the person who tells all adherents to catholocism how to live their lives) to be able to demonstrate that he was much more holy than me. In the one and only major test Ratzinger faced in his life he choose the evil side over the good side. If I was a Catholic I would believe that taking part in the holocaust was a sin that could never be repented.

  9. modernity's ghost said,

    As anyone knows, humans have agency, free will.

    In pre-1945 Germany and occupied territories, many youngsters, schoolchildren, teenagers and even younger took up against the Nazis.

    They did it consciously. They avoided service in the Hitler youth. They put out anti Nazi propaganda. Attacked the Nazis physically,etc etc

    All of this is documented.

    So Ratzinger has no get-out-clause. He didn’t have to do what he did, either as a youngster or later on covering up abuse in the Catholic Church.

    All this is plain and obvious, particularly to socialists but also anyone capable of reasoning and with a little bit of knowledge of history.

    There are, were, no excuses for his actions.

    PS: Günter Grass is hardly a good counter example, given 1) his own service in the Waffen SS came out very late 2) he seems to have issues with one particular ethnicity.

  10. Matt said,

    Maybe Ratzinger could have got out of joining the Hitler Youth and/or Luftwaffe. I don’t know. But what did he actually do as a member of either? Nothing that justifies the charge of “taking part in the Holocaust” as far as I can see, unless teenage membership of an organisation is enough to damn him.

    Like I said, the charge sheet against him is long enough without this.

    • Martin Ohr said,

      Matt – yes teenage membership of the nazi holocaust machine (just what do you think the hitler youth did -day to day?) is enough to damn a normal human, even more so from someone who would dare to dictate morals to 1.2 billion people.

  11. modernity's ghost said,

    I never understand the reason in Britain to sanitised those who participated in the Nazi war machine, willing or otherwise.

    They were many Germans, both young and old, that made the moral choice not to.

    There were others who simply went along with it, as Ratzinger did.

    There were tens of thousands of Germans (and more) who fought against the Nazis, but Ratzinger wasn’t one of them.

    So to seek any moral advice from the vacant Ratzinger is akin to asking Sweeney Todd for coronary tips.

  12. modernity's ghost said,

    ops, culinary tips

  13. Jimmy Glesga said,

    THAT IS QUITE AMUSING MOD for such a serious person!

  14. jo said,

    For a fascinating discussion of the theological implications of Marx’s work, check out Arend Van Leewuns Gifford lectures. Incidentally, the best current academic bios of Marx is by David Mclellen, who is also a Catholic.

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