Catholicism, History & the Pope in Britain
Not really a big deal at all. I don’t really understand why some people are so offended at him visiting the UK? He has the right, and so do the Roman Catholics in the UK. So the government has chosen to spend £12 million on his visit, they could’ve spent the money on more idiotic things such as the criminal “justice” system or more CCTVs that do nothing (for more detail read my previous post), or perhaps some absurd financial claim made by an MP. For a nation that has a strong historical and contemporary reputation for religious tolerance and open-mindedness; the British are disappointing in this case. In fact, the track record of the relationship between Britain and the Vatican has been a black stain on this magnificent country’s history. So Pope Benedict XVI hasn’t been the best leader recently, then again who has? What’s happened to many children is horrendous, but he is beginning to admit it. Not many leaders are so willing to change their stand while still in power. Besides, there hasn’t been a visit by a pope in the UK since 1982, so this was long overdue. Let’s not forget that the Pope is also a political figure as a head of state and denying visits from a head of state, especially amongst European states, is a diplomatic absurdity.
Now let us move on to another topic that has been irritating me for some time: blind hostility towards the Roman Catholic Church. I’m not a Catholic, but I do have respect for the institution. Many people focus mostly on the how the church persecuted so-called heretics under the inquisition, the crusades and the resistance towards certain scientific developments. So there is much focus on the bad and the mistakes the church is responsible for, which is prejudiced and can be partly credited to the strong anti-Christian and anti-Italian sentiment currently present in the Western civilisation. But, if we are to be fair and objective, then we must also look at the good that the Roman Catholic Church is responsible for. Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the ascendancy of powerful European states capable of self-defence the church was responsible for holding European society together and, contrary to what most people believe, is a strong advocate of education. Every Roman Catholic priest has a strong academic background and will have at least one PhD; they are very highly educated individuals. On a train in Switzerland I once met a Swedish priest who spoke five languages fluently, had three PhDs (medicine, engineering and theology) and spent most of his life travelling between Rome and various other countries arranging visits for people to see the Vatican. It is worth pointing out that all branches of Christianity (this is for you denominationalists) have their roots in Roman Catholicism, as does the fact that we have universities or higher education in the first place. If we are to think with a clear head, most of the times the church has resisted some scientific or social advancement has been more for political and practical reasons. Admittedly often for greed but they are still human after all and many are power-hungry regardless of their background. But what has me most irritated is the very naïve reasoning that the church, if they “truly cared about the poor”, would give away all their possessions. This is stupid for four simple reasons:
1) The Vatican state probably spends a far higher percentage of its income on charities than any other state,
2) If they were to give away everything they own that would remove their means of providing charity and financial support over time,
3) People should get busy asking why their own governments aren’t giving more and, finally,
4) So they put a few conditions as to give out financial support; that’s called sponsorship and there are many other institutions that do the same with equal amount of unethical demand.
I do not agree with many things that the Roman Catholic Church has done and still does, but overall they are still a force for good and do a great deal more for the poor than most of us. So let us worry about the plank in our own eye before we look at the peck of sawdust in somebody else’s.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” ~ Jesus