Pope to visit the UK?

// 20 March 2009

The Guardian reported earlier this week that the Pope is considering visiting the UK next year:

A spokesman for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, a permanent assembly of bishops, said the Catholic population would be “delighted” if the news was confirmed, and the pope would be “warmly received”.

Having had the misfortune to be christened a Catholic, I can confirm that at least one of us will be making every effort we can to express our utter lack of delight that a man responsible for immeasurable suffering across the globe due to his deadly and backwards views on contraception, abortion and gender will receive any kind of welcome in this country. As a quick reminder, this is the man who claims that HIV/Aids is “a tragedy that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which can even increase the problem”, who believes that defending heterosexuality and cisexuality is as important as saving the rainforests, and deems it a sin to save a nine-year-old rape victim’s life by carrying out an abortion.

Let’s keep our ears open for confirmation of the visit, and, when it comes, get organising…

Comments From You

Meg Mansworth // Posted 20 March 2009 at 4:02 pm

What a great opportunity to get the placards out. I will definitely by doing some reproductive rights protesting if he does come. Thanks for the links.

Giuseppe // Posted 20 March 2009 at 4:52 pm

The Catholic church and Christians do a lot of good work in Africa and through out the world.

They are in the slums every day helping and supporting these people which is never reported while others throw insults on the internet.

I have always found it pretty sad that people on the left have no problem in insulting Christians but are not prepared to question other religions. and what they do to woman.

Laura // Posted 20 March 2009 at 7:37 pm

Giuseppe, The fact that Christians do good work doesn’t change the fact that the Pope’s regressive positions on contraception, abortion and gender do a great deal of damage globally. I’m certainly prepared to question other religions’ attitudes to women, but that’s not what’s being discussed here.

Steph // Posted 20 March 2009 at 9:50 pm

Count me in if there’s going to be any placard waving.

Whether or not some Christian organisations do good work out in other countries. doesn’t change the fact that all religions need to be challenged when it comes to their continued repressive attitudes towards women.

curlytops // Posted 21 March 2009 at 7:55 am

“What a great opportunity to get the placards out. I will definitely by doing some reproductive rights protesting if he does come. Thanks for the links.”

As will I! :-)

Florence // Posted 21 March 2009 at 8:52 am

On the other hand, I don’t see why being a member of the Church means you can’t have a real problem with what it does.

Personally, I am guilty of – at the very least – aesthetic sympathies with the RC Church. Doesn’t mean I’m particularly thrilled by a possible visit from the Pope for all I might like some of his theology, when one considers the harm he does with such pronouncements on issues he does not have direct experience of. With most of my family in Nigeria, I can assure you that for all Christian charities do good things, it does not help problems related to AIDS/HIV or women’s rights when a representative of the religion speaks so wrongly.

rita // Posted 21 March 2009 at 12:02 pm

They do alot of good work, but nothing comes for nothing. And they do alot of bad as well. I come from africa and if i started listing the bad things done, eg, sodomy, extortion. Yes i am afriad these things are going on in africa. When the poor are targeted and they believe that there’s hope, they get brain washed and the result is what i have mentioned above. Not all christians or catholics are bad, but there are those that do these bad acts on people by taking advantage. Just so you keep that in mind Guiseppe. And they use the africans who are greedy and want money and are all ready to sell out on their own people and make money. Yes, i know of a church leader(not catholic) but christian, who had other leaders sodomise young poor boys who were helpless, and then tried to get one of them thrown in jail because he was complaining that he was being raped and used by this so called church male leader. In my opinion, all religions are oppressive in one way or another although not all leaders might be. I cannot run to any one’s defence am sorry.

Kathryn // Posted 21 March 2009 at 1:44 pm

“Having had the misfortune to be christened a Catholic”

I find that needlessly offensive. There are plenty catholics who manage to reconcile their faith with their feminist beliefs, Joe Biden being the best known example I can think of, and there are catholic organisations such as catholics for choice who align themselves with the pro-choice movements and I’m sure do not think of themselves as unfortunate in their faith. Whatever your personal experience with the church saying somethine like ‘having the misfortune to be catholic’ will alienate those of us who do want to be involved with the women’s movement. I know it put my back up even though I do oppose all the things you listed later in the article.

Anne Onne // Posted 21 March 2009 at 6:40 pm

Guiseppe, we do question other religions. We question all religions, but work best with those we know most about. Why? because many of us come from a Christian background (some of us even identify as Christians), brought up with knowledge of Christian teachings, and are therefore better armed to speak from this perspective.

It’s one thing to criticise our culture, that which we share a stake in, and much more difficult to criticise someone else’s without falling into the trap of being colonialist or speaking out of ignorance. It can be done, but must be done particularly thoughtfully, because whilst we know what it is to live as a woman in a theoretically Christian country, we may not know what it is to live as a woman in a Muslim country, for example.

This certainly isn’t a case of a bunch of people devoid of any religious background or experience, and equally knowledgeable about all religions choosing to bash one religion over the others. I think it’s most effective to talk about that which you know the most about, and listen to those who know most about something else. So I listen to, and support Muslim women when it comes to the oppressive aspects of Muslim religion and culture, whilst I feel more confident in speaking about the religion of my cultures. I feel it’s our duty to get our act together and address our culture, and support those doing the same to theirs.

Of course, this isn’t as popular as the ‘Non-PC’ approach of insisting our culture is sacrosanct ‘cos it’s ours, and everyone else’s culture is backwards and evil an bigoted and downright weird because it belongs to someone else.

Laura // Posted 21 March 2009 at 7:03 pm

HI Kathryn, I appreciate that there are people who are both Catholic and feminist, but personally I feel being christened was a misfortune (I didn’t mean that being a Catholic is in and of itself a bad thing) 1) because I didn’t have a say in the matter and 2) because of the actions committed under the label ‘Catholic’, a label which I officially share. If I believed in God and the teachings of the Church, I don’t think I would choose to call myself a Catholic for that reason.

Giuseppe // Posted 22 March 2009 at 1:04 am

Anne Onne,

Thanks for the detailed response.

I believe it has more to do with fear and intimidation than anything else.

What is colonialist and ignorant in stating facts about a culture that goes against everything feminists and liberals believe in.

Ayaan Hirsi tried to speak out and free herself from religious superstition but where was her support?

Alice // Posted 23 March 2009 at 11:34 am

I speak up more about the sexism in Christianity because, like Anne Onne, I simply know a lot more about it. I’ve been brought up a Christian, been to many services of different Christian denominations, worked for a Christian organisation and still identify as a Christian (a very liberal Christian). This being the case, I am able to talk with confidence and solid knowledge about the sexism that is prevalent in Christian circles.

I don’t feel as confident talking about the sexism within Islam because I am just not as knowledgeable about the religion.

I don’t appreciate the tactic of informing feminists what they SHOULD be talking about. Many of the Pope’s actions are deplorable and perfectly legitimate and important topics for feminist discussion and protest. Just because other religions can be misogynistic too doesn’t mean that we should gloss over the sexism committed by Christians.

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