"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The obligatory Pope's visit post

The Pope visited Bellahouston Park on the south side of Glasgow today. While not disagreeing with the reasoning behind it, I have found myself unable to lend my voice, or signature, or presence to the objections to this visit for historical reasons. When the last Pope visited Glasgow in the 1980s, the only people to make a significant noise about it were Pastor Jack Glass and his sash-wearing, flute-playing followers. The need to disassociate myself from the bowler hat wearing fraternity is something I feel very deeply, which is why you won't find my signature on any petition objecting to this present tour by the Pontiff of Rome.

But I'm beginning to wonder if this was a good enough reason. Probably not. I'm not going to rehearse the well-known objections to the present occupant of the Holy See but only remark on his latest anti-charisma offensive, which I found, well, deeply offensive. It's enough to make one come over all extremist in an atheistic sort of way, this gratuitously insulting references to Nazis.

We had criticism of the church's handling of priestly abuse of children being compared to anti-Semitism around about the same time that Holocaust-denying clerics were being rehabilitated. Now we have this: the head of an institution that was at best ambivalent towards the Nazi regime making ahistorical remarks about a country that was not.

I don't know if Ratzinger will ever visit Russia - but if he does, he would be well advised to mind his manners, as he should have done here. I think the Stalinist regime would be classed as 'aggressively secularist' by most people's definition but after the Hitler-Stalin Pact collapsed, the tombstones of dead Russians dispel any doubts as to whose side they were on. When it comes to the Vatican, the historical record is less clear, to say no more than that.
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