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Please, let’s not be victims of hate crime

The Protect the Pope website seems to present Catholics as a ‘victim group’. But let’s keep our dignity, and not whine about our rights

By on Friday, 23 July 2010

The newly launched Protect the Pope website

The newly launched Protect the Pope website

The people who run the Protect the Pope website are to be congratulated for their loyalty and diligence and perhaps also for their apparent unwillingness to allow the security of the Pope to be left in the hands of the police, the security services and the agents of the bishops of England and Wales. All the same, there is something rather worrying about them.

What troubles me especially is that they seem to encourage a ghetto mentality among the faithful. They place far too much faith in the rightly derided 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act, as well as the other hate crime legislation. On their website they encourage frightened and intimidated Catholics – when was the last time you met a Catholic who was genuinely frightened and intimidated? – to register complaints about hate crimes with their local police force. “Each police force,” they tell us, “will usually have an online form on their websites to record acts of hate crime.” The thought of teary-eyed Catholics filing complaints on a police website is not one that will please all Catholics.

The Protect the Pope website declares: “Of course people in this country have freedom of expression, but this does not mean they have the right to create a climate of hostility and fear.” But that, of course, is precisely what it does mean, in practice. It is by creating a climate of fear and hostility that press barons sell newspapers, political parties win votes and Boots the chemist sells deodorants.

It may be true, as the website maintains, that unprecedented levels of hostility towards Catholicism are being disseminated by the media, but that only means that we should react with unprecedented levels of contempt. If we were not loathed, after all, we’d be doing something wrong. The Pope is not Oprah Winfrey, and his message is not designed to make people feel good about themselves. At any rate, I hope and believe that most Catholics will refuse to behave like members of a victim group. Quite enough people whine about their “rights” as it is. We ought not to join them. We are free-born Britons, and have our dignity.

This taste for claiming victim status, incidentally, seems to be linked to the bizarre belief in the United States (especially) that Catholics now face a persecution similar to that faced by the Jews in Germany in the 1930s. That is simply not true. Catholics may one day be persecuted as Jews once were, in which case they will have two choices: either to be brave and die as martyrs or to deny their religion and join their persecutors.

The Jews of the Holocaust had no such choice.

  • Mary

    I support the Protect the Pope Website. It's not about being a victim at all. It's about being assertive to be heard. It's all in how you look at it isn't. I don't see persecution but I do see slippery slope developing here in the US but it is one all of you in Europe have already slid down and don't even realize what you have lost.

  • Kenny

    Whilst I agree with much of what you say. Your last paragraph, and especially your last sentence are bizarre in the extreme.

  • John Paul

    If we are to be martyrs – that is – witnesses; then we need to stand up for our faith. Sky TV broadcast a statement yesterday which suggested that the Pope was a criminal. If the Bishops conference do not defend the Pope and the so called Catholic Media also sit on the fence and do nothing to defend the Pope and therefore the Church from constant attcks then it is not surprising that this website has appeared. I have never heard of anyone complain about the costs of a state visit before. I am appalled that the Catholic Herald should attack these efforts – is it jealousy? St Justin Martyr started an apologetics school and wrote to his adversaries – does Mr Reid think he was promoting a siege mentality or a victim culture? It is about time that Catholics in this country stood up to be counted.

  • John Paul

    If we are to be martyrs – that is – witnesses; then we need to stand up for our faith. Sky TV broadcast a statement yesterday which suggested that the Pope was a criminal. If the Bishops conference do not defend the Pope and the so called Catholic Media also sit on the fence and do nothing to defend the Pope and therefore the Church from constant attcks then it is not surprising that this website has appeared. I have never heard of anyone complain about the costs of a state visit before. I am appalled that the Catholic Herald should attack these efforts – is it jealousy? St Justin Martyr started an apologetics school and wrote to his adversaries – does Mr Reid think he was promoting a siege mentality or a victim culture? It is about time that Catholics in this country stood up to be counted.

  • Guest

    It's not about victim culture but justice, self-respect and ultimately love. If we as Catholics don't stand up to defend the Holy Father and the faith, then how much do we love them? Do we have to be like all the apostles who deserted Jesus in his hour of need?

  • louella

    Instead of it being a website of victimhood I think it is showing an laudable spunk! If we Catholics do not start making plans for ourselves and taking matters into our own hands – we will then find ourselves victims – of secular legislation and government – whom we actually support. For instance aren't there rumours of Church's being forced to marry gay couples etc.

    I strongly feel Catholics have a need to protect the Pope on his visit to the UK – and I wish the Knights of Colombanus or the Knights Templar would take it upon themselves to do it. Why do we always submit ourselves to the hands of our secular big daddy.

  • hoops

    Its difficult to say what is worse the loss of respect for religion or the fall of reason in the public places. I can see difficult times ahead. As Augustine noted of God – he must have Reason Authority and Force. Be the strongest the most respected the most reasonable. And our culture should be alligned with this God. It seems to be well adrift

  • MJCarroll

    As always I seem to be in agreement with you Stuart. I think that these 'Protect the Pope' people appear to be trying to play the PC brigade/UK Government at 'their own game' After all if UK citizens are not allowed to attack Muslims under any circumstances then the British Government can not condone the attack of Catholics under any circumstances. Of course, we have to be realistic and assume that being Christians in the Uk will mean that when 'push comes to shove' we will not be given equal status to Muslims (sorry, I'm at it now).

    There is only one way to respond and that is to evangelise more people into the church (I know that conversions are not meant to be an act of retaliation) but let's face it – it will have the effect of 'shutting the buggers up'!