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Is it actually true that there is serious discrimination against Christians in Europe?

Look at the facts: then tell me what if anything we should do about it

By on Friday, 6 May 2011

An EU calendar distributed to over three million pupils omitted major Christian holidays, including Christmas and Easter (CNS photo)

An EU calendar distributed to over three million pupils omitted major Christian holidays, including Christmas and Easter (CNS photo)

Earlier this week, the Pope sent a message to a conference of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences which was discussing the subject of “Universal Rights in a World of Diversity: the Case of Religious Freedom”. The Pope’s message was one we have heard from him before:

As I have observed on various occasions, the roots of the West’s Christian culture remain deep; it was that culture which gave life and space to religious freedom and continues to nourish the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion … Today these basic human rights are again under threat from attitudes and ideologies which would impede free religious expression. Consequently, the challenge to defend and promote the right to freedom of religion and freedom of worship must be taken up once more in our days.

We can read that in two ways. Most obviously, we can see it as a comment on freedom of religion in general terms and at the global level. But beneath it, surely, lies a more particular meaning: that even here, in Europe, where these things had their origin, “the challenge to defend and promote the right to freedom of religion and freedom of worship must be taken up once more”. Am I being fanciful in giving it that particular meaning? This isn’t meant to be a controversial statement; it’s one of those papal utterances which invites us to tease out its meaning in our own circumstances. And a recent report speaks volumes about what those circumstances, for anyone bringing up children in the EU, actually are. An unnamed Irish priest made a complaint to the EU ombudsman that a diary circulated to thousands of schools around Europe omitted major Christian holidays, even Christmas and Easter, though it made a point of including other religious holidays such as the Jewish and Islamic New Years and the festivals of other religions like Sikhism and Hinduism.

This so-called Europa diary is distributed to more than 3.2 million students in over 21,000 secondary schools in the EU (and how much does that cost?) and is supposed to be a tool for homework and other notes: it looks to me suspiciously like a tool for the ideological presuppositions of those who disseminate it. And incidentally, I see that the EU, at a time when every national government in Europe is making major cuts in their budgets, is insolently demanding that we give them an actual increase, presumably to fund such dubious exercises as this.

The Irish priest who complained to the EU ombudsman demanded that there be an official apology, a recall of copies which had already been distributed and a reprinting of the diary itself. Surprisingly, perhaps, he got his apology and a correction notice was sent out to advise teachers that “some important religious holidays” had been omitted from the diary. There was also also a promise that it wouldn’t occur again. The EU officials responsible said it was a blunder, “a regrettable error”: but it was obviously nothing of the kind. They were trying it on: and if that excellent Irish priest hadn’t complained, they might have got away with it.

The lesson is that we have to keep our eyes on these people. I am not in favour of whinging about the way in which we’re treated: a little mild bloodless persecution of this kind keeps us on our toes. But I do think that we need to fight back against what’s happening: and the first stage in that fightback is to know what’s going on. There’s more than you might think. You might begin by having a look at a report produced by an Austrian-based outfit calling itself the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe (for their website, go here.

The report quotes the excellent Melanie Phillips, who told the Church of England Newspaper that though secularism is often presented as neutral, “to be secular is to embrace certain values and beliefs. Instead of neutrality there is an attempt to get rid of religion and to promote something else instead”. “It has produced,” she said, “a ‘me society’, a society of great selfishness and increasing cruelty and brutality.”

The point is that more is at stake here than a comfortable life for religious people and their practices. The onslaught on religious values has become serious. Take the case (November 2008) of the Spanish judge Fernando Calamita. He was sentenced to 18 years of “occupational ban” (that means he can no longer act in a judicial capacity: this is the end of his legal career) for delaying the adoption of a little girl by the lesbian partner of her mother. He was also fined 18,000 euros. These people mean business.

Read the report. It will make your hair curl. Here is just one of many reports on life in this sceptred isle. Such cases are not necessarily widely reported; had you heard about this one? This is how the report summarises the case:

Home for Retired Missionaries Loses Funding on Gay Issues in Questionnaire

January 2009: Brighton Council requests care home for elderly Christians to ask its residents about their sexual orientation and cuts funding when rejected.

Brighton Council requested the care home for elderly Christians to ask its residents about their sexual orientation four times each year as well as to use images of homosexuals in its promotional literature and show a presentation on gay rights to staff. When this request was rejected, the home lost the funding from the local council ….

Managers at the care home explained that to comply with the demands would unduly distress the elderly residents and undermine the home’s Christian ethos … There was a strong feeling among people in the home that the questions were inappropriate and intrusive. They felt they had come to Pilgrim Homes because of its Christian ethos and were upset they were not protected from such intrusions.”

However, council officials accused the home of “institutionalised homophobia” …. A spokesman for Brighton and Hove Council said: “The Government specifically states the home must be open to the gay and lesbian community and that it must demonstrate this to qualify for funding. In the absence of any willingness to do this, funding has been withdrawn.”

There are very many UK cases as bad as this: this whole process has gone very far indeed. So, what do we do? That’s a genuine question, to which there’s no easy answer. But the first thing we need to do is inform ourselves. There is a major struggle under way: and, as Melanie Phillips says, “there is no neutrality in the culture wars”. Until we are aware that the wars are raging, we will never stir ourselves to make our objections known, and maybe even have them listened to. We don’t have to accept all this with a shrug of the shoulders. Think of that “unnamed Irish cleric” who took on the EU over its wretched “Europa diary”. Another 10,000 or so victories like that and we’d be getting somewhere.

  • DBMcGinnity

    Let us have a synopsis of a Roman Catholic manifesto. What would it contain to attract “Black Hearted Sinners”? What will appeal to Richard Dawkins, Geoffrey Robinson, Peter Tatchell, and millions of other people, especially those who have been physically and sexually abused. How would you justify the millions of dollars and euros that have been paid out in compensation by the Catholic Church criminal activity?. There are likely to be many more millions yet to be paid. So, who will fund a criminal Catholic political party?

  • ms catholic state

    Because……people have free choice…..and they don’t choose Jesus Christ God Made Man……..but prefer the lies and ….er….freedoms… of secularists atheism fascism communism Islam…..whatever. But the price to pay will be great….in this life or the next!

  • ms catholic state

    What about the shouts for the criminalisation of Christians and the burning of our Churches as in Egypt……and all the other horrors tha Christians endure in atheist and Islamic nations. Forgotten about them have you! Maybe you like Sharia or you like to see Christians tormented?!

    Only in selfish societies does the birthrate drop.

  • ms catholic state

    Does it bother you……why do you call a Catholic Party criminal?! LOL…..your values are perverted.

  • Mobile Catholic

    YOU may want us all to sleepwalk into an atheist utopia where everyone gets to sing a secular version of Kumbaya, but there are many of us that don’t. I don’t want my life to be secularised and I’m sick of people like Dawkins and Tatchell shoving their revolting agendas down my throat. They are using a secular/militant gay agenda as a club to beat us down with and it won’t work. Remember this, it is we who surround you and the sleeping giant secularism has prodded and poked is waking up.

    Additionally, please don’t you even think to call me a criminal because of what a few lost souls did. I don’t carry their crosses, they must do that. I pray for their souls and those that were abused. Whether the Church has to pay compensation is none of my concern, and as a non-believer yourself it is certainly none of your concern. Your opinion on this matter is meaningless and nothing short of arrogant preening.

    If you don’t like the Church or it’s teachings that’s your loss and I pray you will change.

  • Mobile Catholic

    ms catholic state, you have expresseed my feelings to a tee in your posts over the last few days. Very inspirational. Thanks and God bless you and yours.

  • Mobile Catholic

    I pray that it will. Also, getting out there and actually doing something on a local level is a great start. All this needs is some kind of impetus. It is a very workable proposition.

  • Mobile Catholic

    If the Muslims ever did take over, I could never respect their laws. They would not respect minority faiths, having been to the middle east on several occasions Christians are treated with suspicion at best. They kill us, they destroy our churches, there would be no respect from them and just fear from us. But, of course, the BBC would be with them 100%. Couldn’t resist that.

  • Martin

    No, Catholic.

    I can likewise point you to a good site that presents the arguments for the accuracy of Genesis. Answersingenesis.com. Take a look if you want, it may challenge you in an area or two?

    Heres the issue, if you turn Genesis into a myth, then you lose the real reason why Christ had to come in the first place. He was the second Adam, he came to restore what was lost (relationship with God). He come to pay the penalty of Sin.

    Likewise the more we disregard elements/sentences/books of the bible because we cant get our heads around them, the easier it is to justify false teaching within the church and here. A good number of the arguements in the New Testiment are based of an actual event in the Old Testament. If you destroy the reason for something the arguement loses its authority.

    Your attitude to marriage is just one example.

    You can argue of alternate views of relationships and compare them to marriage because you disregard God’s description of what Real Marriage is as being a mere Myth.

    In addition, it may be that due to your sensitivity over your view of relationships that it is now practically impossible for you ever to have an alternate view of Genesis from Myth to truth. It may force you to look again at the current view you hold when unwilling to do so and have to change?

    If you accepted Genesis as Historical then your confusion over the original state of marriage would never be an issue and you wouldnt be blogging error.

    As it is you disregard the reason for marriage and justify false versions of it from the original intention.

    Why do you think that Atheists try so hard to discredit anyone who believes in Genesis?

    If you dont except the Biblical account then its is only theirs left. They themselves could never allow for a History that involves a God and therefore would have to invent a story/theory that gets us here by any process, regardless of the inconcievable improbability. Surely you would have to admit that they are at such a sheer loss to explain why we are here, that they have to give words like: Nature, Chance and evolution Almost God like qualities. These forces have been empowered with qualities that you would give to a sentinal individual capable of guiding events. They are always moving forward as if they strive for something and there is a plan.
    Why would the first random, completely without reason life force ever do that? How did it know it had to do something like absort energy or eat to survive, what made it want to do so? Could it be that we were designed to do so and therefore that is why we do? Evolution is too full of holes (and i have not even started on the subject).

    Destroying Genesis is key to destroying the authority of the Christian faith. Whilst it is fully possible to be a christian and believe in Intelligent design, you lose the authority for the majority of arguements within the bible. You even have to say that Jesus didnt know what he was talking about on some issues as he relates to Genesis as a historical event.

    Just out of interest, at what point does the first none myth event start for you in the bible? i am interested in your thoughts.

    your final point on bending science, i disagree – i recommend again to you Answersingenesis.com.

    God Bless

  • Martin

    So who are the Adam and Eve characters you are describing as the first humans? What are they and how did they get to be human? What sin did they commit that so condemned the human race, because genesis indicates it was the desire for knowledge in order to be like God (the same sin as Satan).

    How did these Humans sin in opposition to God in your scenario?

    How did they physically rebel against God when i am presuming from your view point they were only just human? (having just evolved from apes)? When did they meet with God in the garden of Eden in order to rebell against him? if that didn’tt exist, when did God reveal himself to mankind so that they knew what was right and wrong for them to be guilty of rebelling?

    Likewise, sin would have been nothing new in your viewpoint, (i believe in your case Intelligent design) would have involved killing from the moment the first life appeared. Genesis however indicates that death didnt come till humans sinned and that was because as i said before, they wanted to be like God, Their guilt was founded on the fact that they had been told right and wrong and they chose the wrong.

    How were they told right and wrong in your account of life? Original sin doesnt make sense in a Intelligent design viewpoint. None in an atheistic one.

    They couldnt rebell against what they didnt know. If they did know, when were they told. And if they were told where is it recorded with authority that what you say is true or probable?

    Logic argues that Genesis must be true if the Christian faith is true. It gives you the reason for everything and tells you when and how it happened.

  • ms catholic state

    Aw thank you Mobile…..and may God Bless you and yours too :)

  • Anonymous

    A left-wing Christian movement would be much more successful.

  • Anonymous

    The position of the Church towards evolution, and towards the big-bang, has in the last 60 years been very open. First it was announced that research into evolution by Catholics was ok, then under JPII it was announced that evolution could co-exist perfectly happily with Church teaching.

    For everyone I knew as a Catholic none of this was a surprise, or a shock, and was simply confirming what the majority of Catholics took to be the case.

    One of the final nails in the coffin of Genesis – from a Catholic perspective, is the actions and of Pope Benedict. He signed a papal pronouncement that included this paragraph:

    ‘According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the ‘Big Bang’ and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5–4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution’

    I don’t really know how much clearer, they could make it to be honest. My view, which you conceive to be illogical appears to be entirely accepted by the Church, and my the current Pope.
    Pope Benedict argues that there is no contradiction, and that the Bible in talking in terms of morality, and of our humanity, whereas evolution and astronomy are talking in terms of Chronology.
    He really sums up his feelings on the subject very well in his 2007 meeting with the Clergy:

    ‘Currently, I see in Germany, but also in the United States, a somewhat fierce debate raging between so-called “creationism” and evolutionism, presented as though they were mutually exclusive alternatives: those who believe in the Creator would not be able to conceive of evolution, and those who instead support evolution would have to exclude God. This antithesis is absurd because, on the one hand, there are so many scientific proofs in favour of evolution which appears to be a reality we can see and which enriches our knowledge of life and being as such. But on the other, the doctrine of evolution does not answer every query, especially the great philosophical question: where does everything come from? And how did everything start which ultimately led to man? I believe this is of the utmost importance.’

    Obviously this is not official doctrine, we don’t have to believe what the Pope does as Catholics. But I do not believe in mass scientific misinformation and conspiracy, and I see that the arguments of evolution are as sounder than any other proposed theory. I am content that if the Pope believes it then I can’t be too far wrong.

  • Anonymous

    ‘Marriage, until some decades ago, was an institution that formed a family, so that people could help each other and raise their children with a mother and a father.’

    In terms of a religious marriage – rather than a state marriage, that is true to some degree. But gays want state marriage not religious marriage, and people who enter into state marriage have no obligation to have children.

    Notice above I said when referring to Catholic marriage as ‘to some degree’, because the Church is still quite willing to allow weddings between those that are infertile, or too old to bring up children.

    If child rearing was a condition of Catholic marriage then those that were not in a position to have children would not be able to marry… yet they are allowed. Either the Church is willing to live with a contradiction with its own teaching, or more obviously – it is not a substantive issue, and is used as ammunition for the argument rather than a true problem with gay marriage.

    On your third point (in the end list). If the Church genuinely wanted to solve problems with sexual disease then monogamy and faithfulness are a sure-fire way of decreasing transmission. Gay marriage is an ideal vehicle for this.

    Also on the idea of a ‘pleasure contract’ if you are referring to sexual pleasure, then many would see a long-term monogamous relationship as actually a curtailing of sexual pleasure.
    Sleeping with multiple partners would be thought of as lust, whereas making a commitment to one person would be thought of as love. Did you not think that two people of the same gender could not love each other?!

    If you reject my rejection of your idea of a ‘pleasure contract’, then you must believe that the Church itself is giving out ‘pleasure contracts’ to those who cannot have children. As they equally are ‘completely separated from the responsibility of forming a family’

  • Anonymous

    We had an American (protestant) family that we became very good friend with, who were actually setting up a Church outside of were we live. They were proponents of 7 day creation, and disputed evolution – they even had the bumper-stickers. (answersingenisis.com)

    I think is was obvious that they were surprised at the lukewarm British response! By the time they left 7 and 1/2 years later I honestly think that they had dropped the idea altogether.
    I have read at least some of their literature, and I have watched many of the videos with Ken Ham, and I have to say I find it all remarkably forced and contrived. They suggest that humans lived with dinosaurs, when we know that not to be the case. They go to really extreme lengths to try and prove their point, and I just don’t buy it. If it was genuinely true then scientists would be hailing the discoveries, and publishing rebuttals of evolution and the big-bang -which would make a scientist’s career if true. But, so far it is only some Christians that are interested.

  • Martin

    The major issue with your comment here is that they have seperated Science and religion, If a scientist mentions Creation then alarm bells sound.

    The present scientific community would never present Creation as a serious consideration because they are in the main atheist. They follow Darwinism. They do not even consider the possibility of a creator. It would a) conflict with their world view. b) get them excluded from their fraternity. c. Change world history as we are taught in school and would open the doorway of Christianity.

    As i mentioned before they will only examine the evidence through the lense of their world view. As such, even looking at the same evidence as someone else, they will come to a different conclusion. That conclusion is still a theory.

    You mentioned in your other blog that you are not a creationist and not convinced by Intelligent design. What other choices are there for a christian. Intelligent design as i understand it is the acceptance of Darwinism but with God as the first mover.

    You said you were a catholic?

  • Nick

    > In terms of a religious marriage – rather than a state marriage, that is true to some degree.

    Until some decades ago, what I describe was __marriage__. Protecting families was _the_ reason to give legal protection to marriage.

    > But gays want state marriage not religious marriage

    The homosexual militants are very clear that they __demand__, by all means necessary (see what they did to people who voted against prop 8), that their union be treated _exactly_ as real marriage – including adoption of children. They also demand that textbooks be gay-affirmative; that children be brainwashed by age 6; that “homophobia” be considered a crime. Is it a wonder they are opposed? Is it any wonder they are nicknamed Gaystapo and al-Gayda?

    By the way, read this

    http://frexpression.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/a-gay-man-decries-gay-rights/

    The above text (written by a homosexual atheist) is, along with the Vatican document I gave you the best answer to the homosexual militancy I have seen.

    > Notice above I said when referring to Catholic marriage as ‘to some degree’, because the Church is still quite willing to allow weddings between those that are infertile, or too old to bring up children.

    There is a difference between the marriage of an infertile woman with a man, and the “marriage” between two men. One difference is that the infertile couple can adopt children, and they have the father-mother complementarity to raise the children healthily. Another difference is that the couple itself has the wife-husband complementarity to help one another. Marriage has a double purpose – raising children and the mutual sanctification of the spouses. Both purposes are impossible in a gay-”marriage”.There are other reasons – if you research it, you will find. The Church does nothing gratuitously.

    > On your third point (in the end list). If the Church genuinely wanted to solve problems with sexual disease then monogamy and faithfulness are a sure-fire way of decreasing transmission. Gay marriage is an ideal vehicle for this.

    Research has shown that gay “marriages” are

    1) Rare. Even in places that allow it, most gay people simply _do not want_ to “marry”. The “marriage” rate is much smaller.

    2) Unstable – lasts less than real marriages

    3) Adulterous.

    Gay marriage is (and some militants explicitly admit it) only a battering ram to impose the acceptance of homosexuality. They think that if the state does not recognize gay “marriages”, than the state is saying that homosexuality is unwanted. Gay “marriage” is an ideological device. Ask yourself – why do they demand gay-”marriage” to be called “marriage”? Some states have proposed “civil unions” with legally identical effects; but the militants __demand__ “marriage”.

    > Also on the idea of a ‘pleasure contract’ if you are referring to sexual pleasure, then many would see a long-term monogamous relationship as actually a curtailing of sexual pleasure.

    Perhaps I should say “pleasure exclusivity contract” then.

  • Nick

    Anyway, let me ask (no beg) you to read the following texts:

    http://frexpression.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/a-gay-man-decries-gay-rights/ (written by a homosexual atheist)

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20030731_homosexual-unions_en.html

    The vatican texts stand not only by their divine authority, but also by careful human argumentation drawing on philosophy, science and good logic.

    I _strong_ advise you to read them. You may be advocating gay “marriage” because you have only seen caricaturesque defenses of traditional marriage. You should read some real argumentation.

  • Nick

    I meant “Anyway, let me ask (in fact, beg) you to read the following texts”

  • Anonymous

    Some scientists are Christian – the head of the Human Genome Project is Francis Collins. He headed the team cataloguing human DNA. He has rejected both evolution and intelligent-design, instead believing in ‘theistic evolution’. He has also been appointed him to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences by Pope Benedict.

    Although I had no prior knowledge of this ‘theistic evolution’, it fits with what I have always believed.

    It is summed up as:

    ‘there is a God, that God is the creator of the material universe and (by consequence) all life within, and that biological evolution is simply a natural process within that creation. Evolution, according to this view, is simply a tool that God employed to develop human life.’

    The way I have always thought about it is that it is a bit like breaking for a game of pool. If you could do the maths, you could work out how to break and get all the balls into the pockets. As God is all-powerful he can see the future results of his actions. Therefore in initiating the big-bang he could know what was going to occur – the creation of earth, and the evolution of animals into sentient human beings.

    ‘Intelligent design’ would be a good name for this, and many people think that this is what is meant by the term.

    However, the origins of the ‘intelligent design’ movement are not from the world of science – rather from creationists who were afraid that their message was no longer convincing people. They also do not have a coherent alternative to evolution, but rather criticisms of the odd anomaly that has yet to be solved in the evolution of very specific animals

    Groups that promote intelligent design may partially believe in some bits of evolution, they may believe the earth is billions of years old, or no more than 5,000.

    Call me naive, but that’s the way I’ve always seen it, right from being a child.

    I did look seriously to intelligent design as a possibility when talk of it first emerged, but its lack of an actual theory, and the fact that it is obvious to me that the organisations involved are pressure groups to get religion into science lessons. As they put it; to portray evolution as ‘theory in crisis’ – which is simply exploitative of scientific terminology – we don’t question the theory of thermodynamics when we board a plane, nor the theory of gravity when we land again.

    So therefore I stick to theistic evolution.

  • jng

    I understood that Doctor Oddie’s article was intended to help to identify examples of anti christian activities in Europe. My response is to point to the fact that the TV media in the UK is full of cynical inaccuracies about the beliefs and history of the church, and that Catholics, in, what can be argued is a clear breach of their civil rights, are forced by law to pay for this or not to have access to this form of communication.
    No-one with an ounce of sense expects Catholic beliefs to be popular, particularly if, as St James advised, they keep themselves uncontaminated by the world: it is a bit of a blow to the world’s pride if it is considered contaminating.
    However, at least the hypocrisy of a society, which frequently accuses the Church of suppressing freedom of thought, might be exposed by its refusal to allow The Church to be represented honestly.

  • DBMcGinnity

    I would not write something that is not historically correct, and that could not be referenced. Please take you time and read:
    (http//www.aloha.net/~mikesch/treaty.htm) and Reichskonkordat (with Hitler, 1933) http://www.concordatwatch.eu/showtopic.php?kb_header_id=752 http://emperors-clothes.com/vatican/cpix.htmThe truth About Pius XII and the Vatican is contained within these articles
    (http//www.aloha.net/~mikesch/treaty.htm) and Reichskonkordat (with Hitler, 1933) http://www.concordatwatch.eu/showtopic.php?kb_header_id=752 http://emperors-clothes.com/vatican/cpix.htmThe truth About Pius XII and the Vatican is contained within these articles
    http://emperors-clothes.com/vatican/cpix.htm

    The truth About Pius XII and the Vatican is contained within these articles

  • Martin

    Paulsays, whilst digressing from the theme of the blog, I have had a brief look at the Theist Evolution Theory so i can at least relate to your view point, the below are my thoughts on it, (if they mirror other arguements that you have heard, appologies, these are typed as i think of them).

    Before I go into a couple of questions that i would be interested in your opinion on, i think a major problem with the Theory you hold for me is that you openly use Darwinism to interpret the Bible rather than use the Bible to view the evidence that is available and therefore truly test whether Genesis is accurate or not.

    For instance:

    1. Original sin – (we have discussed this before), when did it happen and how if not as described in Eden? I read that you would view it as “the souls ability by free will to rebel against Gods Commands”. Ok, i could go with this, But, who told them what was right and wrong if it wasn’t done in the Garden of Eden. If you have a time and place, What is your source of authority.

    2. Death(1) – From your point of view death would have been around since day one and is key to evolution. The Bible says that Death was due to the Sin of Adam and Eve. I have read that your view couldn’t mean Physical death as that was happening from the beginning, it must therefore be spiritual. My issue with this is that the context of Genesis goes on to describe the gradual decrease in the human life span from nearly a 1000 years to a couple of hundred years. The point i am making here is that the interpretation that you use is now forced and nothing to do with the context. Your viewpoint is tempting you to disregard the plain meaning and introduce error. At least in regard to interpretation in context.

    3. Death (2) – God has always indicated that he takes no pleasure in the death of sinners. He says that he has never required the sacrifice of infants (although he tested Abraham) and he substituted animals in the past to replace the death of Humans for Sin. GOD doesnt seem to like death. Actually, Jesus was sent to conquer death. Death is always seen as a curse or negative, less the example of paul where he suggests he wants to be with the Lord. My point here is that in your view, Death MUST be good. There could have been no evolution without it, a lot of death and a lot of failed projects. God calls everything he created Good because it was and it was bursting with life. you are forced to glorify death and therefore contradict the bible, to justify your viewpoint.

    4. Do you accept that Cain was the first murderer? Jesus seemed to think so. If he was wrong when he referred to him then we are in SERIOUS trouble. If he is basing teaching of mythical events then they have no basis in fact only his head. They carry no authority. Likewise if he was wrong about this what can you trust in the bible? it all become wishful thinking. Unless the majority of events actually happened there is not authority in basing a rule or law or truth on the event.

    5. Who is the first person in the old testiment that you believe to be a historical figure in the context of what is written?

    These are just some initial questions to think about, what are your thoughts? i understand that some of them may have long answers but answering some would be fine.

  • Anonymous

    I know lots of regular Church-going, faithful Catholics that disagree with Church policies. They don’t get too angry, because they realize that the Church has never been a fast-mover.

    If there is disagreement within the Church of some of the absolutist positions that is officially holds, then it is no wonder that the general public – who have no reason to be soft on the Church, can pick holes so easily.

    I did think that the BBC’s coverage of the Pope’s visit was respectful and well done. Also on programs discussing the news in-depth like Newsnight, they always get a representative from both points of view – and let them speak properly. However, if Ann Widdecombe is the best we can come up with to represent Catholics – then its no wonder that the arguments keep being lost.

  • DBMcGinnity

    It is a paradox that those who claim to be the most devout Catholics are the most obnoxious and uncharitable in their comments. You say my values are perverted because they are different to yours, that makes you a “tunnel vision, narrow minded bigot” who displays no concept of lateral thinking or rational concept formation. The colloquial or vernacular term for this unfortunate disposition is “A barrack room lawyer” or “an armchair dictator”. who sees life through tyrannical, chauvinist and misplaced piety, exacerbated by bigoted religious zeal. This uncharitable and ungracious theme runs through the Catholic Herald blogs. I feel certain that Jesus would not have been as unkind or accusatory in his attitude to others as you are being.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_X2PQQQP534XNQG7TUDMCFDP22U Jack Zhang

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  • Anonymous

    The only reason such policies are “unacceptable” to many people now are because people do not want to make their lives harder wheras the Church stands up for itself and for what it believes (as Christ always taught.) Not only that but the three examples you state are all either perfectly reasonable or misrepresented. There is no feeling that there is anything wrong with homosexuals but that the practice of homosexuality (along with the vast majority of sexual activity in general) is a sin, meaning that we discourage; no reasonable Catholic wants to persecute anybody for it.
     
    As for contraception not being allowed this would certainly be an improvement in Western Europe and the United States, where sex is regarded as such a commodity that limiting it would only lead us in the right direction. Meanwhile in Africa the men who transfer AIDS are disobeying the Catholic Church by sleeping with harlots and forcing their wives to sleep with them, ergo we have no reason to believe that the Catholic Church is what is stopping them from using condoms. The actual problem is the non-existant attitude to women’s rights in most of Africa which leads men to sleep with anybody who catches their eye, pick up HIV, and then pass it on to their wives and children (which would not happen if they were blindly obeying the Catholic Church as you suggest.)

    As for all of this being unacceptable (which is hardly a bad thing in such a frivalous culture as the modern West) their is no increase of human suffering caused by obeying the Catholic Church (having established that the AIDS crisis is caused by men disobeying the Catholic Church by having non-marital sex) and the teachings regarding the priesthood are simply there because there are different, though no more or less important, roles for men and women in the Catholic Church. Women can be a part of the Church if they wish but the role of nuns seems to have been greatly forgotten by most people now (as is deplorable while so many of them turn away from the Church on very shaky grounds) and women also have the most important role within the Church: motherhood. To this end women are greatly privileged in the Church’s eyes and so comitting them to celibacy is to take away that most sacred role (which they can choose to reject anyway by joining the declining convents.)

    Finally, on celibacy, this is a perfectly straightforward argument: a priest is, by definition, a man who devotes himself and his life to God and, in this instance, the Roman Catholic Church; it is not a simple job but a life choice and it is living out Christ’s words to leave all and devote themselves to him. I hope that this will set your mind at ease but given the record of many people for argument I rather doubt it.

  • Markcastilano

    What a pity that you are Anonymous

    It would be difficult to find fault with you because you come across as genuine and sincere. I do accept much of what you say, except, that the world you refer to is long gone. Most women are not prepared to be second class clerics; they want to be priests and they cannot see any logical reason for them not being accepted as priests. I cannot see any reason why women cannot be priests. Not all women want to be wives and mothers to stay at home and care for a husband and children.

    As a medical student, I spent part of my accident and emergency experience working in the Genito-Uninary Medical clinic (VD Clinic) and I discovered that heterosexuals engaged in the same practices as homosexuals, and STD’s ( sexual transmitted diseases) were spread equally within these sexual parameters. The same applies to AIDS. I learned that marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with being faithful to one partner. I especially include Catholic marriage in this context of unfaithfulness.

    You use the term obey and disobey. So, who do you think is going to obey any religious organisation who are renowned for child sexual abuse (rape and buggery) and many other sexual perversions. The Roman Catholic Church hold the reputation for child abuse, rape and buggery, and they have no mandate or remit to propose, instruct, advise, or recommend any kind of moral conduct to Catholics, in view of their history of sexual perversions. When the lid is lifted and the real truth emerges as to the extent of Catholic Church complicity in world wide child sexual abuse, (which it will), the Roman Catholic Church will  be exposed.

    I must declare that I am more committed to Christianity (the Teachings of Christ) , the Roman Catholic Church than at any time in my life. I am more aware that Jesus Christ did not exclude anybody from his love and understanding. He loved everybody, regardless of their philosophy, creed or religion. He loved protestants, pagans, infidels and sinners much more than the some of the Catholic Herald bloggers.

    Sadly some, Catholic Herald bloggers have clearly expressed gross religious and contextual discrimination and shameful bigotry against those who do not agree with their out-dated point of view. The old Catholic Church is dead and gone because rationality and logic have overtaken superstition and misdirected religious zeal and sentimental hyperbole. 

  • Anonymous

    Ironically enough you seem to be right that I would have done well in days gone past and I can only hope my posts were not offensive in any such way. I apoligise in advance if they were.
     
    Moving on you say that marriage has nothing to do with being faithful to one partener. Regretably that seems to be the case today but that is no excuse to allow infedelity as it remains the breaking of a commitment made before God – perhaps this is an old view but it offers vastly more to me than the frivalous world of today and with the number of teenage pregnancies and single-parent families in the world today I daresay it could hardly make things worse if this view of marriage were made more explicit (I emphasize that I do not exaggerate what marriage is in that sentence.)
     
    Next the fact that heterosexuals carry out the same sexual acts as homosexuals only proves that heterosexuals can be immoral and frivalous as well (speaking from a Catholic fraim of mind.) Also my link between marital fidelity and AIDS was that men in Africa largely contract AIDS from prostitutes and so keeping to their marriage vow and honouring their wives rather than using them as objects of sex would go a long way here. As I have said above what would also go a long way in the West is a revival of the ideas of marriage; perhaps in a secular view marriage may not necessarily mean fidelity (no insinuation meant) but to a Judeo-Christian mind it is a core commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” meaning that marriage has an awful lot to do with fidelity to one partener in an orthodox religious view. I would, however, be curious to know why Catholic marriage merits a special inclusion in this “context of unfaithfulness.”
     
    On pedophilia you make a respectable point but if morals are put forward then we have to consider there merit rather than only the merit of those who propose them. I agree with the Church’s ideas on marriage and if I find that the man who espused them was guilty of sex abuse then I abhore him as a man but I do not discard that piece of moral truth that he espoused. To do so would be tantamount to being pro-life until discovering that Mussolini was also pro-life and then abandoning that view as a result. In both cases the man who believed in this truth did truly terrible things but we cannot simply say “some men in the Catholic Church were sex offenders therefore we will ignore all that they ever say again as a result.”
     
    As for female priests let me rephrase my point here. You call nuns “second-class clerics” but I have to say there is simply no such thing as a second-class anything in the Catholic Church, rather there are different roles which mutually support each other; there could be no Pope without the priests and there could be no priests without the bishops and no bishops without the Pope. Similarly nuns are by no means second-class (my two great aunts are both nuns and they are two of the most hard-working and devoted people I know) they are simply women of the Church with a different role to play that is no less important and no less commendable than that of a Priest. As for your reply to me over motherhood it is true that not all women want to be mothers but not all have to be. My point is that motherhoos is a privilege enjoyed only by women
     and is the single most important thing any human can do; a man cannot give birth and if women did not do so then there would be no Church and Christ would never have come into the world. Also the most important person in the Catholic Church’s history (outside of Christ himself) is the virgin Mary and we can see the irony straight away. If one looks at the Church as a whole it is hardly so bluntly sexist as so many people make out.

    Finally you speak of Christ’s universal love. I would not deny for a moment that he would have felt equal love for all people in all situations but that is not the same as granting them everything that they want; he loved the sinners and infidels and abhored their sins which is why we hold true to his word; we believe, as Christians, that Islam and Hinduism among others are false religions but we do not hate people for believing them; we simply attempt to teach them the truth as we see it.

  • Anonymous

    Not necessarily. If you look at the book of Genesis it is so vague that it is hardly incompatible with Darwinism for one simple reason: it does not say that the days referred to were consecutive and so when God said let the seas be filled with fish, the skies with birds and the land with animals (I’m paraphrasing that) there is no mention as to how that happened or over what timespan; the answers to these questions are now explained by most as Darwinian evolution over roughly 4 billion years. It’s also worth noting that the Bible never makes the time of creation explicit; the estimate of it beginning in 4004 BC was calculated by Bishop Ussher of Ireland in the seventeenth century.

  • Anonymous

    Has anyone asked any such “Catholics” why they believe that the Church should be a mover at all? The “absolutist” positions are held by the Catholic Church not because they are outdated but for simpler reasons: if people are willing to observe them (as one must be to call oneself a Catholic) then they work far better than anything modern society has put forward and they remind people that they cannot choose everything for themselves; the fact that nobody is free forever to do whatever one pleases seems to be forgotten by most people today.

  • dutchcatholic

    I must disagree with you here. In the Netherlands we have had a Catholic political party until 1980 (Katholieke Volkspartij), when it merged with two Protestant parties into the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA, the Dutch Christian Democrats). I know this because I am a member of said party. The Dutch Christian Democrats have recently suffered an election defeat, but has at times attracted votes from secularised Dutchmen with centrist leanings. Its emphasis on norms and values and a compassionate but austere economic policy is the cause for this broader appeal.

    It is true that many Catholics (mainly Integralists) were attracted by fascism, but by no means was this universal. The Blessed Titus Brandsma was an important adviser to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Netherlands. Whilst actually being anti-Judiac himself, he already started a campaign against the NSB (Dutch Nazi Party) in the 1930s and he was the main instigator of Cardinal De Jong’s sermon against the persecution of Jews which was read in every Dutch parish in 1942. The Germans responded by sending him to Dachau where he died. Fascist/Nazist appeal to Dutch Catholics remained limited to intellectual circles and many Catholic politicians (Beel, De Quay, Struycken) had been members of the Resistance. So political Catholicism didn’t have a fascist stigma attached to it.

    That being said, I do think it is true that a Catholic political party is unfeasible in the UK. First of all the Second Vatican Council marked the beginning of Catholic ecumenism and the end of political Catholicism everywhere where it had been of significance. By that time political Catholicism had already become synonymous with Christian Democracy. In largely Catholic countries Christian Democracy still carries a distinctive Catholic character, in countries like Germany and the Netherlands it is more mixed. The success of the Christian Democrats in Europe is rooted in their parties being people’s parties (mass movements). Religion was certainly the binding factor (uniting people of many occupational backgrounds). Its mass appeal was also based on their socio-economically centrist programmes and their ‘common man conservatism’ and it endured well into the late 20th century.

    There are other reasons why a Catholic political movement in the UK is unlikely to materialise:
    1) Unlike in the US Catholics are a small minority in the UK. Apart from Northern Ireland (where Catholics vote Nationalist) and the Outer Hebrides (strict Calvinism) the regional identities of British people don’t revolve around religious monikers unlike in the Netherlands (to be Brabantian or Limburgian long meant/still means being a Roman Catholic) or Germany (Rhineland, Baden-Wurttemburg and Bavaria). Catholicism in the UK is simply no clearly and nationally defined subculture.

    2) The UK voting system makes it difficult for small third parties to get mass appeal.

    3) The other main parties seem to do a good job at serving mainstream Christian voters. The success of Toryism, especially its One Nation Conservative variety (as a Christian Democrat I’ve always considered the Conservatism of Churchill, Macmillan and Heath to be Christian Democratic all but in name) underminded any breeding ground for Christian/Catholic parties. The Tories have always represent the friendly face of Establishmentarianism and the latitudinarian middle-of-the-ground Anglicanism, the established form of Christianity. Their dominance and clout in 19th century Britain masked any anti-clerical sentiment and made Christians feel safe. In the continent Christianity and Catholicism in particular came under attack. Both sides entrenched themselves and the religious Catholics founded successful parties of their own. No need to do so in the UK back then.

    If Christian politics on its own is to succeed in Britain I think its hopes lie in a Christian Democratic party of the non-denominational kind to which Anglicans can subscribe and which has personal ties with the churches, but act independently from it in terms of organisation and doctrine (in other words such a party would be confessional but not clerical/stooges of Rome). The parties of the orthodox kind only preach to their own sides and lack the mass appeal necessary to become an important force. The only hope for Christian politics in the UK is a betrayal by the Tories of Judeo-Christian values combined with a sympathetic non-fundamentalist Christian Democratic movement.

  • Anonymous

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