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UK foreign office memo mocks Catholicism and The Pope

posted at 10:22 am on April 26, 2010 by

Catholic-bashing is nothing new. It’s rather mainstream in the media and among celebrities. When it comes to child abuse, journalists are particularly titillated. Nevermind that priests don’t abuse children any more than Protestants or anyone else. The sad reality is that positions of authority will attract some men who want to exploit it, whether that person is a teacher, a priest, a Protestant pastor, or a Boy Scout leader. In any of these cases, the person exploiting their position of authority is in the minority; like any other profession, priests by and large keep their vows, and a very small minority have broken their vows and broken the law by abusing children. That doesn’t stop the media from perpetuating the idea that all priests are dirty old men who can’t be trusted around children. The Catholic church is also attacked by the left for its positions on abortion, AIDS, homosexuality, and women in the church. The left loves the Episcopalians and hates the Catholics. Mocking the Pope is cool, bashing priests is acceptable, and Catholicism is old, outdated, and can’t keep up with modern times.

Is it any surprise, considering the generally accepted attitude towards the church, that a British foreign office memo would be uncovered mocking the Pope and the church?

Senior Papal aides suggested the Foreign Office had not taken strong enough disciplinary action against those responsible for the document, which suggested the Pope should open an abortion clinic, bless a homosexual marriage and launch his own range of condoms while he is here.

No-one has lost their job over the memo, which was sent to Downing Street and at least three Whitehall departments, and the civil servant who authorised it has simply been moved to other duties.

… Cardinal Renato Martino, the former head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said: “The British government has invited the Pope as its guest and he should be treated with respect.

“To make a mockery of his beliefs and the beliefs of millions of Catholics not just in Britain but across the world is very offensive indeed.”

The memo, sent out in March following a “brainstorm” session by Foreign Office staff who are helping prepare for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit in September, warned recipients that the contents “should not be shared externally” because the offending document, titled “The Ideal Visit”, contained “even the most far-fetched of ideas”.

As well as suggesting the launch of “Benedict” condoms, the memo also proposed that the Pope should “announce sacking of dodgy bishops”, sponsor a network of AIDS clinics, conduct a training course for bishops on child abuse allegations and ordain a female priest.

Embarrassingly for the Queen it also suggested getting the Pope and Her Majesty to sing a duet for charity and changing the national anthem from God Save The Queen to God Save the World.

The Foreign Office responded by sending Francis Campbell, the British ambassador to the Vatican, to an urgent meeting with senior officials of the Holy See, and said the “foolish document” had not been cleared or shown to ministers or senior officials before it was circulated.

A spokesman added that “many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naïve and disrespectful” and the department was “deeply sorry for the offence which it has caused”.

So, let’s see. The British government invites the Pope to come to the UK for a visit. Someone writes an extremely offensive memo which gets forwarded around to various government offices, including Downing Street. A spokesperson for the government says that the government is “very sorry” for the offense, yet they didn’t see fit to fire anyone associated with the scandal.

Why do I somehow feel like they really aren’t that sorry?

These diplomants made a mockery of the Pope and of the beliefs of millions of Catholics in Britain and around the world. And the person responsible still has their job! Why? Because it’s en vogue to attack the Catholic church. Making fun of the Pope is not that big a deal. And while the memo was a joke, yes, I would bet anything that if the Catholic church did some of those things — funded abortion clinics, ordained a female priest — they’d be applauding the church. Liberals aren’t comfortable with the depth of the beliefs that Catholics hold. They don’t like that Catholics are so staunchly pro-life, that we actually believe that women shouldn’t be priests, that homosexuality is a sin. So they make middle-school jokes and insults. They snicker at the Pope and at Catholics behind their backs. Heck, some people do it right out in the open (a la Maureen Dowd).

It’s sad, because while Christianity itself is under attack from the left, none of the Protestants get it nearly as bad as Catholics do. Where’s the so-called tolerance? What does it say about the so-called enlightened, tolerant attitudes in the British government that someone can make such lewd, disgusting comments towards the Pope and not face any repercussions?

If for no other reason, that memo should never have been created simply out of respect for a visiting head-of-state, if not for the fact that it was the Pope. But because it’s the Pope, and the Catholic church is so backwards and antequated, it’s somehow OK?

It’s a sad commentary that in today’s world, someone can mock and disrespect the Pope, for crying out loud, in such a low and disgusting way, and not get punished for it at all. This person should have been fired. By letting the perpetrator keep their job with the government, they’re basically saying that the memo is OK, and they’re only sorry they got caught. The Pope’s spokesman is now saying that the Pope might cancel his visit to the UK, and he should.

Until the person or persons responsible for this filth are fired, the Pope should refuse to visit Britain.

Cross-posted from Cassy’s blog. Stop by for more original commentary, or follow her on Twitter!

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Sorry, cannot agree with you on some of your points. Don’t know about the US but here in the UK the Proddies get it in the neck as much as the RCs. Evangelicals get hit most of all (and in the UK most Evangelicals are Proddy)…this is best seen in the context of Northern Ireland where Protestants are regarded by BBC/Guardian etc as inevitably narrow minded and psychologically flawed whereas Ulster Catholics are seen as heroic and inspired (of course this is linked with admiration for the IRA, built into the left’s DNA)
As for your strange notion of eqivalence between the proportion of abusers amongst Protestants or, indeed, the population of males in general the key fact to remember is that Catholic priests are in a position of trust, “men of God” hence they are rightly judged on a higher scale. Remember it is not really the fact of numbers of priests abusing children – it is the shameful way the hierarchy dealt with these priests that has horrified people.
Of course there are the usual suspects doing their best to keep the kettle on the boil but this does not mean that every critic is on an anti Papist crusade.

callingallcomets on April 26, 2010 at 7:51 PM

I have several problems with this memo [ and thank goodness that this happened in the UK so that it’s NOT referred to as “memogate” – couldn’t handle that] in no particular order:

1.) If I was a UK taxpayer I’d be fit to be tied that taxpayer money was used to insult an invited guest.

2.) Pope Benedict XVI has always, even as Cardinal, pushed for removal from The Church the “filth” and pushed for the offenders to be reported – even if local civil authorities did not do anything (see Fr. Murphy in Milwaukee) – and, since taking over the responsibilities in late 2001, has streamlined the process for victims to receive proper pastoral care and compensation (no other religion/church/organization/civil authority has such a process in place btw) – so why the bashing of him, other than as Cassy points out, that he doesn’t subscribe to the cult of relativism?

3.) Pope Benedict embraces Faith and Reason and when it comes to AIDS – condom use does not reduce the spread of AIDS (see scientific studies) plus “free love” has been a disaster from many angles. Do the foolish authors of the this memo have any idea how many Parishes (mine included) do countless hours with AIDS patients and do they have any idea how much money the Catholic Church gives to AIDS charities and how much money Orthodox ( aka “social conservatives” ) Catholics raise for ADULT stem cell research?

4.) It’s a baby and Pope Benedict is not going to give in on that – get over yourselves and, dare I say to these PC types, be “tolerant” of his and our view and accept that we help more unwed mothers than any other organization on the planet and give counseling to post-abortive women?

5.) Homosexuality is a sin in our religion; so is not loving our neighbor.

6.) Pope Benedict encourage ecumenicism – even with non-believers.

So all in all maybe these people in the UK can learn how to properly treat an invited guest.

When your capital’s knickname is ‘Londonistan’ it can be argued you have some serious problem to contend with as soon as possible and the visit of Pope Benedict XVI is not one of them.

Branch Rickey on April 26, 2010 at 9:08 PM

But had they mocked Islam or drawn a cartoon of Mo, all Hell would have broken loose.

Disturb the Universe on April 27, 2010 at 8:42 AM

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