The last visit from a Pope to the UK before the most recent one was back in 1982 – I’m old enough to remember that one. I was just finishing university at the time, and I remember doing some revision while the visit was on TV in the background.
But it was not a state affair – that is, the Pope was not invited by the Queen and was not given treatment accorded to a head of state. This time around, he is. The visit has cost the taxpayer £12 million, and has upset a vocal minority in the UK who’re objecting to the papal visit with regard to:
- The Holy See doesn’t meet the rqeuirements for a state under the Montevideo Protocols
- The Catholic Church’s beliefs on homosexual rights
- The Catholic Church’s failure to deal adequately with paedophilia within the priesthood
- The Church’s rejection of condoms causing the spread of AIDS
- The Church’s support for segregated education
- The refusal of the Vatican to sign various international human rights treaties, and instead form concordats with other countries, that have negative effects on human rights issues for people within those countries.
The full list is here. And the list is totally accurate – the Catholic Church does need to get it;s house in order on a lot of issues, and at the same time the Vatican needs to review it’s links to other countries in the world. As an Anglican I don’t have to believe in Papal infallibility; the Catholic Church and the Vatican must get their act together.
However, it’s likely that very few world leaders could happily jump through all the hoops here. I assume therefore that we’ll eventually see:
- Protests against President Obama for continuing human rights problems at home and abroad.
- Protests against President Sarkozy for his treatment of the Roma population.
- Protests against the Dalai Lama (who regards homosexual sex as ‘sexual misconduct’)
Will we see protests against these leaders? It may happen….who knows…but I doubt they would have the same amount of vehemence from corners of the liberal establishment and press that this Papal visit has seen. In size, the number of protesters has been quite small compared to the numbers obviously supporting the visit, but the media attention given to the protesters seems to have been disproportionately large compared to the amount of support the protests have garnered.
What has really upset me, though, is the bigotry and sheer offensiveness that I’ve seen from people that I know personally; indeed, some folks have now been given a permanent leave of absence from my Facebook and Twitter accounts; it’s not that I disagree with their beliefs, it’s just the way those beliefs were expressed. Indeed, I’ve heard comments that must come pretty close to inciting religious hatred from some so-called liberals and ‘progressives’, and whilst I can understand they’re angry about the attitudes expressed by the Pope and the Vatican, it’s worth them remembering the simple rule of thumb that ‘Two wrongs do not make a right’.
It’s been an eye-opener, to be honest; I have to say that seeing 18th Century expressions of ‘anti-popery’ made by people who surely regard themselves as civilised people living in the 21st Century was quite something. Maybe teh liberal veneer on soem people is a lot thinner than they’d like to think.