Sunday, 10 May 2009

Religion and politics

Speaking in a mosque in Amman yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI said:

"Some assert that religion is necessarily a cause of division in our world and so they argue that the lesser attention given to religion in the public sphere the better,"

"Certainly, the contradiction of tensions and divisions between the followers of different religious traditions, sadly, cannot be denied.

"However, is it not also the case that often it is the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends, that is the real catalyst for tension and division, and at times even violence in society?"

This is an extraordinarily naïve thing for the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church to say. Throughout its history that Church has been one of the most sophisticated players in the game of politics. Indeed, for many centuries it was a sovereign territorial power, and even today the Vatican City is a sovereign state.

Catholic politics are bloodily enmeshed in the history of Europe. During the Christian era, Catholics have murdered hundreds of thousands of people in the name of 'faith'. No pronouncement which the Pope or any other Catholic priest makes does not have a political subtext. The business of the Catholic Church is to mould society nearer to its concept of a Christian state, even though it doesn’t go to the lengths of Islam in completely fusing religion and government in a pure theocracy.

In Britain, Catholic bishops meddle ceaselessly with key issues such as education and particularly with social policies concerning sexuality: sex education, abortion, divorce, adoption, and tolerance – in their case, lack of - towards homosexuals. They are the enemies of liberalism (anathematised by Pope Pius IX and all his successors, including the present pope, as the spawn of the devil), toleration, diversity, and scientific free thought. Catholicism has always been a conservative, reactionary force.

Protestant churches, too, are inherently political, as is evidenced by the history of the 19th and early 20th century battles over the control of education. Islam is an even more fundamentally political religion, and the politics of Israel and of Jewry worldwide are shaped and inspired by Judaism.

There is no such thing as non-political religion. Either the pope is utterly stupid in asserting otherwise, or else he is cynically devious.


Jose said...

Pope Benedict should revisit the books of history since the Church is the Church.

Sadly to say it, there have been more wrongs made in the name of God than the "good" that's always preached.

zola a social thing said...

No mention of the religion of Capitalism here at all.
Orwell would not have approved.

anticant said...

According to today's 'Independent', one of the prime objectives of the Pope's visit to Jerusalem is to persuade the Israelis to hand back to the Roman Catholic Church a second-floor room in a 13th century building which Catholic tradition alleges was the scene of the Last Supper Jesus shared with his disciples.

Just how it could have been, as the building wasn't built until over a millenium after the Last Supper allegedly took place, isn't quite clear; but, as we all know, faith moves mountains.

According to the Papal Nuncio in Jerusalem, this is a highly emotional - even crucial - issue for the Vatican. But Israel's tourism minister takes a more down to earth view of the matter, saying "If we were certain that this great gift to the Christian world would bring us millions of Christian tourists we might think about it. But since that isn't going to happen, we have no reason to give away presents."

So it looks as if poor Papa Benny is going to be disappointed. But as he lives in La-La Land anyway, he will doubtless console himself by saying a few dozen masses to his non-existent God.

What USE are these people? Surely there are more urgent issues concerning Middle East peace to be discussed than the ownership of "Holy Places"?

But as we all know, that was the issue which reignited the Israel-Palestine conflict, thanks to dear old Ariel Sharon (who I trust the Pope will visit and stealthily baptise on his comatose sick bed).

Jose said...

Capitalism religion is a supra religion by all means, Zola. No popes or Archbishops or Mullahs, just a couple or three super-full-pocket-fullvaults with deeds - gentlemen or women who have all the say that has to be said in the world.

Anticant, don't be so cruel, it eventually adds up to some million churches. What has a first-century(definitely it can't be 13th, that'd be too clumsy)-2nd-floor(ground?) apartment with no Otis-lift to do with that doctrine?

You are, I can see, looping the loop.

anticant said...

I'm sure the Pope is a good and even saintly man in his own way, but can we really afford people who mentally live in cloud-cuckoo land exerting such huge influence in the world as he does?

Anonymous said...

Like Rupert M said : we really realy cannot afford blogs or internet ...

Jose said...

Most sure we can't, Anticant. 6 billion people should exert more influence.

anticant said...

And there are 6 billion Muslims, too. That makes 12 billion people who have a slim grasp of reality.

Is it any wonder one gets depressed?

Bodwyn Wook said...

I note there has been a pleasing INCREASE in the number of Us Moslems!

Jose said...

Not in the world, Bodwyn. Not in the world.

Perhaps you are right, Anticant, and we are seeing too many Muslims around?

Or is it Jews we are seeing? And their antithesis?

anticant said...

Yes, I see the highest estimate (on a Muslim website) is 1.82 billion worldwide.

We are very conscious of the growing Muslim presence in Europe, because they don't integrate easily and seem to want to change the historic and traditional nature of Western society. Not that we are blamelesss in the matter - I think that if I were a Muslim I would feel very resentful of US and European policies in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Bodwyn Wook said...

I meant your typo above, where you wrote "6 billion Muslims, too," the only problem being the "too" part, since 6 billion is more less IT nicht wahr? Or are you using those inflation-toned 'British billions?"