Tuesday, 2 February 2010


The Pope has broken with tradition and made a criticism of the legislation currently going through the UK parliament. Strangely his remarks came as he confirmed that he would make his first apostolic and state visit to Britain later this year. He must be very sure that the government wants him to make this visit.

The Pope told a gathering of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales in Rome: "Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet, as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed."

If you look more deeply into what His Holiness is saying, it appears that he is concerned that the Bill may interfere with the rights of the Roman Catholic Church to discriminate in favour of marriage for its adherents and against marriage for its priest, monks and nuns; he does not agree with the law to demand equal rights for women, nor that of a law to demand equal rights for homosexuals and transgender people. Further, it is thought Sexual Orientation Regulations could force Catholic adoption agencies to consider gay couples as potential adoptive parents, and he doesn’t agree with that either.

I am not a religious person, but as I have said before, I respect the right of people to choose a life as close as they can to their idea of perfection, as long as it does not interfere with the next man’s right to do the same thing.

I think that that probably means that we must accept certain ground rules, as we have done for centuries. Many of these rules will be in accordance with at least some holy teachings: thou shalt not commit murder, is a good example, as is charity to the less well off, and acceptance of equality of people of different races. Others have come upon us since the scriptures were written. So although rules that say women and men must be treated equally in employment law, and that we must not discriminate against someone because they are disabled or gay are not in the scriptures, many would say that they are in the spirit of the scriptures.

Pope Benedict is encouraging his English and Welsh bishops to work against the parliament of the UK to undermine their proposals for law, and that brings several thoughts to my mind:

1. Were this another head of state with a state visit planned, would the government be considering whether he was still welcome here? If it were Sarkozy, for example, who had made it clear that he wanted to overturn UK law, would the government remain quiet?

2. Would the Pope be happy to see his teachings turned back upon himself and his adherents? Would he, for example, be happy if a woman refused to serve a Roman Catholic in her shop, or a gay hotelier refused to have a catholic in his or her establishement?

3. If His Holiness wishes to interfere with the laws of the UK, would it not be a good idea to put his efforts and time and that of his bishops into the appalling poverty and deprivation on one hand, and massive bonuses and greed on the other, that exists in the country which he intends to visit. Inequality of another sort.

Religion most certainly has a place in many people's lives, and therefore in legisation. Where to draw the line in its influence is a very difficult and divisive question.

One thing is for sure; the churches seem to have an unhealthy, and rather unsavoury interest in matters of gender or sex.


  1. Yeah but he is going on about shirt-lifters

  2. This is THE confessional of paedophiles and child abusers.

    How about him coming out and demanding exemption from child molesting laws like they had, de facto, in the Irish Republic?

  3. The Pope is the head of one of the biggest businesses in the world and he has to protect its interests.

    Not that I agree with him but where does the 'equality' end in this country? The most obvious equality hasn't yet happened ie equal pay for men and women.

  4. Well said Bugger. It made me fall about when he said that it might force the church to employ homosexuals... "Goodness me", I thought, "that would never do would it?"

    I do wonder how far religious organisations can go with exemption from laws that ordinary businesses and organisations, and I also wonder what constitutes a religious organisation. Currently they get tax exemptions, employment law exemptions, sex discrimination law exemptions.

    Could I, for example, start a church and then claim exemptions from all manner of things that piss me off? The tax exemption would be a good one for starters.

  5. Not sure Subrosa. I would say that I believe that all people are equal

    I don’t for a second think that I am better than some lad from a council estate, and I don’t think for a second that Prince Harry is any better than me. I’m no any better than a woman, nor is a woman any better than me, etc, etc.

    But I think we have gone far too far with equality laws. Probably because we interpret “equal” as being “the same”, which of course it’s not.

    It’s a pity that when Brits get laws that, for example Swedes or Icelanders have had to decades, we manage to interpret them all wrong, and make an ass of them.

  6. Employ homosexuals Tris, but that is a non sequitur, they are already in "gainful" employment within.

  7. As for exemption from tax laws, hmm.

    I a going to form a Celestial Teapot worship group and cite Bertrand Russell as the prophet and founding son of The Teapot God, aka The Mad Hatter.

    Now where do I go for the tax exemptions and ambassadorial recognition?

  8. Exactly Bugger... I wonder how many are heterosexual.

    The Vatican City State is weird place....

  9. Don't ask them Bugger... they will surely tell you where to go.

    PS... Can I be a priest in your new relgion? What's the pay?

  10. All the tea you can drink

  11. Yeah yeah yeah, whatever... do I get to break laws?

  12. It will cost you for that indulgence, big time.

  13. Oh bugger... Bugger (if you now what I mean!)

  14. erm, despite my spelling ... I mean Know, obviously (you don't have to be able to type to be in your teapot do you?)

  15. You find your own original sin, thank you.

  16. I got a bunch of sins; it's finding an original one that's the hard part!

  17. Bugger,

    I may have misunderstood some of what you wrote, if you could clarify for me- and tell me I'm an idiot if I'm wrong!

    But here we go;

    Are you saying that the Catholic Church already employs homosexuals and they are the paedophiles? If so I would naturally like to object and point out that not every homosexual priest is a paedo.

    But I may have misunderstood you, if so sorry.

  18. I'll leave Bugger to answer that for himself Dean, but I'm sure that everyone knows what you point out there.

    There are people who associate the two. Indeed the fragrent Mrs Robinson seemed to indicate a connection when questioned on the subject. That of course was before whe was found to be having an affair with the 19 year old son of her lover. (I'm not sure if that is nepotism or not!!)

    Can I say now that no one on this blog sees a link between the two.

    However, I think the point may have been that the Pope was concerned that the new laws might mean that they could no longer pretend that they didn't employ homosexuals, for they must surely know that they employ many.