Thursday, March 04, 2010

The National Secular Society...

...was today grandly announcing that it was handing in a petition at Downing Street urging the Prime Minister to ban the visit of the Holy Father.Pointless, silly, and nasty of them, and a far cry from the line they used to take, in the days when the proud claim of secularists was that they supported tolerance, let's-hear-all-points-of-view etc etc. Remember when they used that line about "I disagree entirely with what you say, but defend to the death your right to say it"? Not any more, evidently. They don't like what the Church teaches, and they don't like the chap teaching it, they don't think that he should recieve the normal courtesies when visiting Britain.

Specifically, they don't like the Christian understanding that homsexuality is wrong, they don't like the Church having a male priesthood. They have tried to claim that the H. Father has "rehabilitated" the Lefebvrist Dr Williamson (he hasn't - see the Pope's own letter here ) whose vile rants about the Holocaust are in direct denial of the facts of history and of the Pope's own statements on the subject.

In fact the Nat Sec. Soc. is struggling to find legitimate reasons for being tiresome about the Pope's visit: the last one was a success, and Catholics have an infuriating habit of enjoying large cheerful gatherings: attempts to stir up trouble in Oz over World Youth Day melted when hordes and hordes of pleasant young people arrived in Sydney, and with singing and friendliness and prayer and goodwill made the city a joyful place to everyone's enjoyment.

Now Nat. Secular Soc. members need to know this: the Church will never deny them the enjoyment of the universities, hospitals, schools, art, music, scientific and medical knowledge that she has fostered and built and formed and nourished down the centuries. Any time they want to establish some Secular Society set of homes for the poorest of the poor, or orphanages for war victims, or clinics in the most remote and grim of districts, or colleges, or schools, or care for people living on rubbish-dumps, or hospices for the dying, or medical care for the sick and blind and disabled, or opportunities for the impoverished young to be educated, or free food for the starving...Catholics will be only too glad. And if some international Secularist spokesman connected with all this were to visit Britain we wouldn't grudge the money spent on policing the crowds who wanted to cheer him or directing the traffic the traffic they created, or arranging for him to have a cup of tea with the Queen.


Patricius said...

Although slow at first, the petition in support of Pope Benedict's visit has now over 12,000 signatories!

Stuart said...

Very very good points.

May I request permission to post your thoughts on our blog?

Joanna Bogle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

... but the Catholic Church has fought tooth and nail to retain discriminatory powers in many of the areas you mention! School admissions, employment, adoption etc. All areas where the Church wants to exclude others.

Dominic Mary said...

do at least try to be accurate.

The Catholic Church doesn't want to exclude anyone; all it wants is the right to do its own things, for its own people (and anyone else who wants), in accordance with its own teachings.

No-one has to go to a Catholic School; but it's hardly unreasonable for Catholics to want their schools to teach in accordance with Catholic doctrine.

No-one has to work for a Catholic organisation; but it's hardly unreasonable for those organisations to expect their employees to live according to Catholic standards.

No-one has to give her baby to a Catholic Adoption Agency; no prospective parents have to approach a Catholic adoption agency in search of a child to adopt : but those who do should, surely, not find it unreasonable that such an Agency operates in accordance with the teachings of the Church.

If you don't want people to think you're bigoted, then do at least try to be fair.

Anonymous said...


You say the NSS was "urging the Prime Minister to ban the visit of the Holy Father."

This is untrue. The NSS was urging no such thing. See their original petition page:, and the other one they supported:

If you don't want to be accused of bigotry, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm a supporter of religious freedom. I think the Catholic Church should have the right to act according to its own teachings, except where those teachings contravene the rights of others.

If Catholic Schools were wholly funded by the Catholic Church and its supporters, that would be one thing. But they're not. They get public funding. And in exchange for that, is it unreasonable to expect Church Schools to respect public anti-discrimination law?

Is it reasonable for the Church to expect *every* employee to live according to Catholic standards (whatever they are)? Priests, sure. But cleaners? English teachers? Isn't it reasonable that employees in a publicly funded service have some right to a private life apart from their employer?

If people choose a Catholic adoption agency to place a child, then presumably they wish the agency to use Catholic principles (whatever they are) in finding parents to adopt the child. But if that agency is in receipt of public funding, then is it unreasonable to expect that agency to abide by anti-discrimination legislation in exchange?

Anonymous said...


Can I point out that Catholics are tax payers as well, and as such have a right to say where they want their money going?

Malcolm McLean said...

Anonymous - every organisation treats non-members differently from members. That's almost the definition of the term.

However, with the exception of a tiny number of people excommunicated for reasons of theological disagreement, anyone can become a Catholic by being baptised, attending Mass, and describing themselves as such.

(There is a difficult issue when Catholic schools discriminate against new Catholics. The problem is that, where the Catholic school is a lot better than the surrounding secular competition you might get cynical conversions for the purpose of securing a school place. There's no easy answer to that one.)

Dominic Mary said...

One reality about Catholic education is that it is here, and will stay : but if the Government decides to be difficult, then the Church may have to withdraw from the State system, and make our schools 'Catholics only' - and, after all, if we fund them, is it unreasonable that they should be restricted to our children ?

However; given the high quality of most Catholic schools, that will no doubt be unacceptable too, as it will then be alleged that we are gaining an unfair advantage !