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Pray for those who despise Catholics and call us bigots

‘Bigot’ is the latest of a long line of insults thrown at Catholics

By on Wednesday, 6 February 2013

'We think of Henry VIII and the destruction of the monasteries, but that was not the end of the destruction, it marked the beginning'

'We think of Henry VIII and the destruction of the monasteries, but that was not the end of the destruction, it marked the beginning'

Are you a bigot? It seems I am in the eyes of some tweeters who accuse me of ‘disgusting bigotry’. The word bores me, so I automatically block anyone who uses it, and cannot thus find the tweets in question. That does not matter. The person who uses the word ‘bigot’ does not say anything interesting; he or she merely hurls an insult, and as far as I can see the only reason anyone has ever called me a bigot is because I am a Catholic. For them Catholicism equals bigotry; but that is not really a very profound point. It is merely a way of saying that they do not like Catholics, and an attempt to hurt our feelings.

The use of the word ‘bigot’  is quite high up in the ranks of insults, it seems. It has little effect on me, as I first heard it in Italy, where the word bigotto, or more commonly bigotta, is a rather mild description, as far as I can tell. I have the feeling that in English the word was more or less archaic, until recently. But it is a powerful word to many, and it certainly got Gordon Brown into trouble. It is worth remembering the words of Mrs Duffy: “I’m very upset. He’s an educated person. Why has he come out with words like that?”

Mrs Duffy grasped the essential point. To use the word ‘bigot’ of anyone is uneducated. The insult represents a failure in reasoned argument. To call someone names is to show that either you have lost the argument, or you never had much of an argument in the first place.

As for those who simply do not like Catholics, and like to insult us, well, anti-Catholicism is a longstanding feature of the British landscape. James MacMillan has spoken of Scottish sectarianism;  and if you want to know about the hostility that Northern Irish Catholics face, well, just ask them. English anti-Catholicism is not on the same level, but it is there. As an English Catholic I have experienced it myself. At their most hurtful, anti-Catholics insinuate that I am somehow not a true Englishman, but in league with foreigners and terrorists. I remember, at the time of the Enniskillen bombing in 1987, being asked whether I was happy at the result. I have been told too that I am a supporter of General Franco simply because I am a Catholic, and best of all, that we Catholics encourage prostitution by supporting the use of the rhythm method (try and work out the logic of that – I did, but it took time).

This sectarian conversational violence is given official encouragement by the continuing discrimination in law against Catholics in this country, as well as the never too far below the surface anti-Irish and anti-Italian racism of the English middle classes, which feeds into their social snobbery as well.

Luckily I am a true Englishman in one respect, in that I never believe in replying to insults. I have Irish blood, and lots of half-Italian relations, but I also have English blood that goes back hundreds of years; and to all those who despises Catholics, and the Pope, and the Irish and Italians, my reply is…. Well, I will pray for your souls!

But there are more serious points here too. Catholics are here in this country by right, not by tolerance of the majority. We are not here because anyone has given us permission to be here. This is our country. That’s why we need to abolish the sectarian Act of Settlement; and if that cannot be done, abolish the monarchy itself. The Act implies that this is a Protestant country. It is not.

Secondly, people need to be careful about stirring up religious and sectarian hatreds. Hence, let us do away with the word ‘bigot’. It was disappointing to see the word feature in an article by Polly Toynbee recently and in the headline to the article. “The gay marriage debate has uncovered a nest of bigots,” screams the headline.  Those who voted against gay marriage were not bigots; they were people Polly Toynbee does not agree with, as is her perfect right. But to use this insulting word in this way is generates only heat, never light.

  • CullenD

    I think almost all people are somewhat bigoted, in the sense that they are obstinate, rather the hateful and intolerant definition. So although it would never be used as a term of endearment, it is far too often used as an unfair insult.
    “Catholics encourage prostitution by supporting the use of the rhythm method”.Let me hazard a guess, because a wife “denies” her husband intercourse during certain times in her cycle, he is then forced to visit a prostitute? 

  • AnneMarieTherese

    Oh is that what the prostitution thing meant, I couldn’t for the life of me work it out.

  • Cestius

    I think you just have to accept that we live in a society where many of the elite are prejudiced against Catholics, and prejudice against Catholics is somehow considered acceptable.  This is most noticeable among liberals and the politically correct who would be horrified if any of the group were spoken of or regarded in the same way, yet cannot see their own prejudice against Catholics in the same light.  But it’s important to remember that most people unthinkingly follow the herd, that we all to some extent accept unthinkingly prejudices reflected generally in society and in the media, and even if we consciously reject some, there is always the danger that we have unknowingly accepted others. So as Catholics we shouldn’t be too hard on people that cannot mention Catholic without mentioning bigot or child abuser in the same sentence – Fr Lucie Smith is right, they need praying for. They’re in a very bad place.

  • Jonathan

    Nor me!  Thanks CullenD for illumination.

  • Jonathan

    A good article.  I wish a non-Catholic would write something similar.

    I’m amazed that in “civilised society” our first reaction when we disagree is to throw an insult.  How about paying more attention to the person you disagree with?  Or ask about their reasoning?  Or work out together where the common ground is, and where you turn separate ways in your reasoning?

    “Catholics are here in this country by right, not by tolerance of the majority.”  Couldn’t agree more.

  • Jonathan

    Sadly, I think you’re right about much of this (I’m probably – no, definitely – one of the “liberals and the politically correct”…).

    One thing I would disagree with: that “you just have to accept” it.

    Maybe easier for me to say, as I’m not on the receiving end of it.

    Our religious freedoms are well worth defending though.

  • CullenD

    I’ve never heard it before and I’ve no experience with either aspect. But it seems like the only answer.

  • OldMeena

    I agree your comments on the truly revolting English middle-classes – although I think their racism is broader than you suggest. A few tens or hundreds of thousands, almost invariably badly invested, and a five bed house, and they believe themselves a different species – and seem determined to show it.

    Words such as “bigot” are sometimes used hurriedly and in annoyed exasperation. The actual physical setting in which the word is used should, I believe, be taken into account.
    But I agree that it is quite wrong to label a section of our society, including Catholics (and atheists), as bigots. Some may be, and others are not.

    But even telling somebody, or some group, that “you will pray for them” can be seen as insulting. It is (in the case of atheists) as if you have considered their views and have deduced that they are deluded and (probably dangerously) out of favour with God, and that your prayers might improve their standing with God.


  • OldMeena

    “Catholics are here in this country by right, not by tolerance of the majority.” 
    I strongly agree.

  • CullenD

    If someone says that they’ll pray for me, I’m often tempted to wink and reply “Thanks and I’ll mention you to my lord and master Lucifer.

  • timothy canezaro

    Many are the people that hate catholics, both believers and clergy, and will take every available chance to insult us. As the article mentiones, “bigot” is one of their favorite insults.
    It truly has become a Secular world when the attacks on Marriage & Family join the attacks on the Sanctity of Life by killing babies in the womb of their mothers.
    Pray for all those people, those that insult good people, those having babies out of wedlock, those women that have abortion, those politicians engaged in radically redefining Marriage & Family. Pray for all of them.

  • Gavin Wheeler

    “The Act implies that this is a Protestant country. It is not.”

    Sadly, it is. Established Church, remember?

  • Patrickhowes

    Hand on my heart,I have not ever acquired these services.I have read some good books,seen some good movies and had an early night!

  • Jonathan

    As well as describing itself as protestant… the Church of England describes itself as catholic (and reformed).

    It’s an interesting point though.  True, perhaps in a certain sense, but I doubt many would mention “protestant” if you asked them to describe the UK…

  • CullenD

    Neither have I, but I do admit to bumping into a few lampposts while walking through a certain area of Amsterdam. (In fact I was once so, erm, distracted I almost fell into a canal!) 

  • oldboots

    Whilst the Act of Settlement does seem to be an anahcronism in this day and age, what really needs to be changed is the fact that the reigning monarch if head of the C of E; it should be the Arch Bishop of Canterbury.

    Once that is done, the Act of Settlement becomes less relevant if not irrelevant surely?

    The bizarre thing is that taking such action would probably reduce the tension that some Scots feel towards the English and so would help preserve the union and take some of the wind out the SNP’s call for independence.

    Best wishes from an Athiest and very-lapsed Catholic

  • JabbaPapa

    Thank you for your good wishes, and kindness — God is real.

  • JabbaPapa

    I doubt many would mention “protestant” if you asked them to describe the UK

    ??? An insular misapprehension …

    Though in point of fact, there are more practicing Catholics than practicing Anglicans in the UK …

  • JabbaPapa

    Honesty ius one of your master’s most pernicious tricks.

  • JabbaPapa

    I think you just have to accept that we live in a society where many of
    the elite are prejudiced against Catholics, and prejudice against
    Catholics is somehow considered acceptable

    Why on EARTH should anyone in their right mind “accept” living in such a bigoted and prejudiced society as you describe ?

  • AnnieB

    What I find most sad is that you can’t have a proper “argument” these days. By this I mean a real discussion with a view to uncovering truth. Not insults but the chance to discuss 2 points of view with the aim of understanding more about both. It’s a major weakness of 21st century democracy.

  • Patrickhowes

    That´ll teach ya to keep your eyes on the road

  • Arden Forester

     Very lapsed? Beyond the Pale do you mean?

  • Jonathan

    “Though in point of fact, there are more practicing Catholics than practicing Anglicans in the UK…”

    Very true.  Though every religion in the UK is a minority sport.
    Roughly the same number of gay people as Catholics attending mass each week, too.

    Plenty of soi-disant Jedi, for that matter.

  • Arden Forester

    Nowhere in the Book of Common Prayer does the word “protestant” appear. It was King Billy that stamped “protestant” onto this country!

  • JabbaPapa

    Roughly the same number of gay people as Catholics attending mass each week, too

    ??? Where does THIS ludicrous claim come from ???

  • Neilintroon

    Speaking as a non Catholic, I have noticed the bigotry against Catholics especially from the media. I recall reading a lawyer from Austria talking about the growing hostility to Christians in Europe and mentioning that Christianity was Europe’s guilty conscience! I think you’ll find that’s the root cause. The Catholic church will reap the benefits for standing against the spirit of the age. Gods truths are eternal!

  • Jonathan

    Quite agree, Arden Forester.  Nevertheless, the Church of England does understand itself to be protestant (as well as catholic, apostolic, reformed…etc).  If not, HM is in trouble!

  • CullenD

    The number of catholics has been just under 10% of the population for 10 years. About 15-20% of those attend mass weekly, though the figure may have risen due to Eastern  European immigration. 

    Estimates of the gay population vary, but most are between 2 and 5%. But if we were to assume 3% that put the numbers fairly equal.

    I think are usually a good source for these statistics. 

  • Jonathan

    From the circa 950,000 Catholics attending mass each week, compared to the approx. 1.5% of the 60million UK population describing themselves as gay (that’s about 900,000).

    390,000 soi-disant Jedi in the 2011 census, by the way.  I know you didn’t ask, but…

    PS – Agh!  Have just re-read my clumsy post, which ought to read more clearly as: roughly the same number of Catholics attending mass each week as gay people in the UK.

    I didn’t mean that equal numbers of Catholics and gay people attend mass each week.

  • Jonathan

    To be fair, I think that my appalling sentence construction prompted JabbaPapa’s justifiable cry of “ludicrous”.

  • awkwardcustomer

    Perhaps the namecallers have been reading Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’, with its advice to isolate, demonize and destroy opponents by any means.

  • Frank

    When this type of word is used it reminds me of the phrase “going for the man and not the ball”.
    So maybe we should take it as a compliment.

  • JabbaPapa

    No, the ignorant tossers have simply been listening to a moronic speech by Dawkins, advocating religious hatred like some kind of virtue …

  • CullenD

    On my first visit “I couldn’t keep me eyes in me head” as my Ma would say. Now I know not to stare and to give a polite nod if you make eye contact. 

    As in the original accusation charged against ALS, the person most degraded is not the catholic man or his wife, not even the prostitute. The man who thinks he needs to pay for sex, just because he can’t intercourse that night, is the villain of the piece.

  • CullenD

    Why didn’t you tell me that Satan’s best trick is to convince people he doesn’t exist? It would be far more effective, as it would also take a glib comment out of context. It also would have had the advantage of putting me in one of those circular arguments you like. 

    I don’t believe in Lucifer…. Ahaa…. That’s cos he controls you!

    How can I be controlled by something that doesn’t exist?….. Ahaa….. The more you deny he exists, the more you are controlled!

    ETC …… ETC….

  • CullenD

    I’d put you up for “King of of missing the point”. 

    Unfortunately you seem to be very much the pauper.

  • kinkysox

    Christ told us to do just that: pray for these poor unfortunates who insult us with all the rotten names in the world, including that old, tired, clichéd bully-tactic – calling us bigots.
    The trick is to look at them in the eye - poker-faced then express delight by saying: ‘Bigot? You called me a bigot! Wow! My favourite insult! Do you have any more like that?’
    Who on earth takes any notice of that no-mark Polly Toyboy anyway, Father? I’ll tell you who.
    Those who are too thick to notice the bigot in them.
    Laugh heartily at the devil rather than be wound up by that blackguard!

  • JabbaPapa

    Hallo “phil” !!!

    I did not post the above message, can a kindly moderator please delete it ? And possibly ban this individual’s IP ?

  • JabbaPapa

    Somebody please ban this disruptive and hateful individual …

  • JabbaPapa

    So are internet trolls with no personality of their own.

  • JabbaPapa

    It is unsurprising that neologisms invented in the 19th century do not appear in any texts earlier than that, you fool.

    Ban this impersonator !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    Get rid of the above individual please.

  • JabbaPapa

    Internet trolls like yourself are here by intrusion and deceit.

    And you haven’t even the brains to spell “Papa” correctly, “phil”.

  • JabbaPapa

    Shut up, you bloody TROLL.

  • JabbaPapa

    Hopefully, it will be “troll removed by a moderator” ASAP

  • Alban

    And as a Catholic I am unhappy with the copious insults towards other Christians that are hurled by my fellow Catholics. To quote the Oxford Dictionary: intolerance towards those who hold different opinions to oneself.

  • Patrickhowes

    It should not,it is a marvellous example of conquering the flesh

  • oldboots

    I came here by accident yesterday via a Facebook link and posted on something that wasn’t the main part of the original post.  The OP was about the use of the word “bigot” and how it is an insult used against those with opposing views.  Reading through the responses this morning I see a number of insults used.  Given the thrust of the OP, those doing the insulting should perhaps rethink their writing style.

    Insults I have spotted here are “Internet troll”, “ignorant tossers” and “truly revolting English middle-classes”.

  • scary goat

     Everybody gets annoyed sometimes, Nick.