Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday Oct 6th
Oh, dear....I do hope I got this one right. BBC (News 24) phoned and asked me to debate with a Muslim woman about wearing veils that cover the face, following comments by Member of Parliament Jack Straw. Well, of course, one is anxious to emphasise importance of religious dignity etc etc, but there are important issues here: faces matter - we can convey things by smiles and friendliness and a masked face is intimidating. The fact that each of us matters, that we are unique and unrepeatable, is part of the Christian thinking that underlies our ideas of community life and Parliamentary democracy. If followers of Mohammed really believe that women ought to cover their faces, they do need to know that for many of us this offensive and wrong: there is one God and Father of us all, and Christians do not believe that he asks his daughters to hide themselves in this way.

I tried to smile a lot and look friendly while I said all this, but it's a complicated debate.....also I wanted to say some much more important things, chief of which was that we hadn't yet an apology for the ghastly scenes at Westminster Cathedral where a mob was baying and shouting murderous threats when people went in to Mass....this was just unacceptable in our cathedral in our capital city. Well, the Moslem lady did say that she apologised for that, which was good, so maybe that's something achieved. I also said that I'm getting worried about where things go next....will Muslims announce that they are offended by the Cross on our country's flag? Or the Cross on my Rosary? (I held it up to deomonstrate). It's all getting a bit daft. We can live and work together, but we do need to stick to the Golden Rule, and also recognise that there is a specific Christian heritage in Britain, which gives us a concept of human worth which is simply central to our way of life.....

It's very important not to stir up angry feelings, or create tension when there isn't any need, so I hope I haven't made things worse all round. I keep thinking about the kindly Moslem who gave me a lift the other night, and indeed the sweet lady on the Tube who gave me her seat today (my feet were hurting terribly again - same shoes as yesterday as I hadn't had time to go home and change!). Plump, white, teenage boy sitting smugly next to her had obviously never been taught that it's polite to offer a seat to a grown-up who might need one.....

Back to a friendly office where, out of hours, I'm able to use a computer....can't get the bike home till 7pm so am seizing chance to write blog, deal with emails.

Jamie is at home, finishing his essay - I phoned to talk through the Muslim/veils issue with him. He said we should recognise there is something in the why-should-Jack-Straw-dictate-to-Muslims approach,which is important, too, of course, but he thought I was right to raise the other issues about freedom to get to Mass without being threatened.

Catholic Herald has an excellent leader re the Pope and the BBC. Have you sent in a letter yet??


Anonymous said...

Sent to BBC Complaints:

The “secret document” you refer to in the above poorly researched programme came out in 2001, the Catholic World News wrote about it in 2002 and it was even published on the Vatican web site! Some secret document you discovered!

The motu proprio has the effect of changing certain aspects of Canon Law, giving new authority to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That Congregation is authorized to respond to cases in which priests commit any of certain specific offences. The offences listed-- eight in number-- concern the Eucharist, the sacrament of Penance, and immoral behaviour.

The listed offences against the Eucharist include disrespectful treatment of the sacred species, “concelebrating” with an individual who is not an ordained Catholic priest, or celebrating Mass for sacrilegious purposes. Offences against Penance include using the sacrament as a pretext for soliciting sexual partners, and violating the seal of confession. Another category of “grave offences” is “sin against the 6th Commandment committed with a minor of less than 18 years.”

When these offences are reported, Cardinal Ratzinger informs the world’s bishops and religious superiors that they should conduct an investigation of the charges, and also notify the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The disciplinary response is reserved to that Vatican body. The Vatican will maintain records of all such disciplinary cases for 10 years, except in paedophilia cases, for which the files will remain open for 18 years.

As for Father Tom Doyle he has never functioned as a parish priest. He has so many things wrong with him that he has been fired from every job the church has given him. He was finally sent to the Vatican to try to learn a few things about the religion he claims he follows. He was finally sacked from there and sent to be a chaplain for the military in Goldsboro, N Carolina. He was fired there also. He finally was told to take off his priest uniform and report to the Equal Opportunity and Treatment Centre where they needed a person to fill in as counsellor on the base. He is a looser who hasn't kept a single job for even a year.

I am appalled at your blatant anti-catholic bias in the above program claiming that the Pope was involved in covering up crimes of pederasty. You have deliberately concocted half truths and lies to smear the pope for your own reasons. You have falsely given your audience the impression that you, the BBC have uncovered Vatican secrets, instead you have been found out pedalling you anti Christian and in particular anti Catholic prejudices to new depth.

I am further irritated to see you intend to continue in this vein, highlighted by you erroneous coverage on today’s site of limbo, the Vatican and the Pope, again covered by you and not one single statement correct or in accordance with Catholic theology. Everything from your understanding of original sin to your many statements that contain “Many Catholics”, “there are those who argue”, “then, of course, there is the argument”, “there are a number of conservative and traditionally minded Catholics”, all conjured out of you own unproductive and poisoned imagination have no basis in fact.

Anonymous said...

Radical Muslim who made death threats against Pope escapes prosecution

A furious row has erupted after it emerged that a notorious preacher will not be prosecuted for issuing a death threat to Pope Benedict over his remarks about Islam.

During an organised demonstration, Muslim radical Anjem Choudary said that anyone who insulted Prophet Mohammed would be 'subject to capital punishment'.

He made his remarks in a TV interview while protesting at the rally.

The protest took place outside the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral at the height of the furore over the Pope's quoting of a 14th century emperor who said the Prophet brought 'things only evil and inhuman'.

Police received about 25 complaints about the protest which left members of the central London Cathedral's congregation 'upset' and 'intimidated'.

But Scotland Yard has concluded that 'no substantive offences' were committed on September 17.

The force has also decided that lawyer Choudary's comments, which actually came in a media interview rather, did not constitute an offence.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair told the Metropolitan Police Authority his officers were trying to 'hold the line of free speech' in an 'angry time'.

"The Met can only police the law as it stands," he said.

"No substantive offences were discovered during that demonstration.

"The remarks by one person that were widely printed in the media did not take place at the demonstration."

David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, who demanded action against Choudary, said: "My reaction is that it is quite disgraceful that Sir Ian Blair is not taking action over this.

"It sends out a message to Muslim extremists across the world that we, as a country, do not have the moral courage to stand up to them.

"They are likely to become more and more outspoken because it is apparent that we do not have the courage to stand up to them."

Rachel Whittaker, a Tory member of the MPA, had earlier described in the meeting how members of the congregation 'felt intimidated' and 'were upset' by the protest.

Others even felt 'threatened' she said, describing the demonstration as: "An appalling misuse of the freedom of speech".

However, Sir Ian said: "The Cathedral authorities expressed complete satisfaction with the police operation.

"We are living in an angry time. It is the job of the Metropolitan Police to hold the line of free speech and it is a difficult line to hold.

"But in this particular case I am satisfied there were no offences committed by anybody.' However Sir Ian's comments have sparked further confusion.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said that its lawyers were still reviewing TV footage from the day of the demo - leaving the door open for a prosecution.

About 100 Muslim demonstrators took part in the protest . Slogans on display included 'Pope go to hell' and 'May Allah Curse The Pope'.

In the wake of the protest, Scotland Yard's Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, announced that officers would look to see if any criminal offences had been committed.

Scotland Yard officers also carried out an investigation after a demonstration outside the Danish embassy earlier this year over the controversial Muslim cartoons.

On that occasion, Choudary was fined £500 for failing to give police proper notice before the protest march in February. Other participants are awaiting trial.

Anonymous said...

Dear Joanna

You write 'There is one God and Father of us all..'.I am probably splitting hairs a bit, as I know you are very orthodox, but I do not think that this is helpful, especially this week when the Press, aided and abetted by elements within the Church, have reported that the Holy Father has written off the concept of Limbo, with the view that all unbaptised infants go to Heaven. Of course God loves all men, as He is our creator, and so of course He calls all men to Himself, but all men have not been made 'heirs to the Kingdom'. How many saints have told us how God views a soul which has even the tiniest drop of sanctifying grace. Baptism is essential. It is filial adoption which makes us 'heirs to the Kingdom'.

I love the way Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran put it, "The Muslim faithful have 101 names for God. They are missing only one: Father! This is our treasure!"

Modesty is a natural virtue, so I think we should support the right of Muslim women to wear headscarves if they wish, whatever their reason. In the Church itself, holy things have always been covered. Are there not still traits of this thinking in our society. Don't the Queen and quite a few other women these days still wear a headscarf when out and about, and hats in their churches.

Anonymous said...

I e mailed the BBC yesterday morning and then wondered if I was sounding a bit 'green biro,' as I pointed out the number of times I have contacted them since WYD 1997 over the 'snotty and hostile' tone they adopt when reporting Catholicism.

I didn't watch Panorama - past my bedtime - but was shocked to see the trailer. Cardinal Ratzinger - 'the enforcer?' Who gave him that name but the secular media? Coupled with the usual doom laden music, reinforcing the usual Pope/Vatican= foreign/authority/secret/sinister... associated with things Catholic in this country.

Having read Mark's excellent and informed letter, I now feel quite mild.

I suggeted a few alternative headlines: "BMW closes Munich plant to allow 1000 workers to attend Papal Mass.'

I didn't think of it then, but something about the Pope and music, featuring his brother ...quick quote from Martin Baker at Westminster Cathedral ... Bavarian cakes/beer. Marian devotion... Oh no too far perhaps for our telly.. but we can hope.

I did point out that their coverage is so bad that I don't rely on it for any facts to do with Catholicism, because it is possible that they don't realise that the people they get their news from have another agenda.

Maybe we need to help them, by providing them with positive news as well as a lexicon of English usage when talking about our Faith.

Great blog by the way and I like your articles in the Catholic press - Catholic Herald currently in my ruck sack awaiting new owner on train ....(that's the paper not the ruck sack, don't want to cause a panic!)