Monday, 20 September 2010


During these recent days, I've taken to trawling around the newspapers on line to read about the reactions to the Papal Visit. Almost universally, they began tough, and then gently melted under the charming influence of Pope Benedict. Naturally, here and there one will read something disagreeable, but it feels very different being a Catholic in Great Britain today than it did last week.
One newspaper I had avoided reading was The Independent, which, others had warned me, was the most strident in its anti-catholic tone. Today I took courage and was very glad I did so. I was very deeply touched by this article by Joanna Moorhead which pays the warmest tribute to the Catholic Church.
Read it here. You won't agree with everything, but it is moving nonetheless.
Thank you, Ms Moorhead.

And how does Richard Dawkins look now?
His site is remarkably silent, as is Stephen Fry's.
Not surprising, on the whole, given reaction elsewhere:
The New York Daily News says how the critics 'really made fools of themselves'.
Richard Ingrams of The Independent thinks that Atheism really needs to replace Dr Dawkins with a new leader that isn't Stephen Fry, either.
The Telegraph was, I suppose, the most likely to turn out to be our friend; there, Jenny McCartney suggests that Dawkins is turning into the new Ian Paisley.
Andrew Brown in the Guardian (a paper which is rarely on our side) has a very good piece about not distorting what the Pope actually had to say, and in particular not twisting his words into a suggestion that atheists are all potential nazis (one scare story that ran a few days ago).

And yet, if you look at the comments on many of these posts, you will see yet again the vile, shrill and hysterical nastiness that has cowed so many of us in recent months. Given the opinion polls taken shortly before the visit, combined with the actual experience of these last few days, I think that we may conclude that these comments are made by a very few sad, mad or (even, but let us hope not) bad individuals who post under several different names and spend a long time hunting out articles favourable to Catholicism just to unleash their venom.

Now, I think, they just look ridiculous, and I shall do my best to ignore them. And pray for them.


berenike said...

I am glad you have this impression - it was mine also, but I tend to read into things what I want to find there, so I didn't trust it!

GOR said...

Yes Father, even from a distance the impression has been the same. Strident irrationality overcome by humble and charitable reason. But it again points out the difference between media depiction and personal experience. For years Cdl. Ratzinger was depicted as the enforcer, the austere and impersonal keeper of the gate. This was in contrast to the impressions of people who had actually met him and knew him. They always spoke of a kind, gentle and humble man, but also one who was not afraid to take a stand, albeit with charity and thoughtfulness.

If nothing else the Holy Father’s visit served to show the real Papa Ratzinger to the people – not a Pope John Paul II who was at home in the limelight and knew how to ‘work the crowd’ - but a quiet, prayerful man, deflecting attention from himself, pointing us to Our Lord, calling all of us to holiness and leading by example.

Andrew Jordan said...

Thanks for the link to Ms Moorehead's article Sean. It reminds me of the reaction to the Pope when he visited Sydney for WYD in 2008, when he charmed all with his energy and sincre humility. Of course, Catholics do form a rather larger section of society here than in the United Kingdom, due in no small measure to the large number of Irish convicts transported for such crimes as protesting rent increases to their English landlords, at least according to Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore.

Equally interesting (but profoundly depressing) is the general tone of the damning comments after Ms Moorehead's article. It's very tedious seeing the same whinging vitriol and personal abuse in the comments section of almost any online article these days.

And congratulations, by the way, on your sabbatical. Should you find yourself able to travel to Australia at any point during the year, you can be assured of a warm and hospitable welcome.

Anonymous said...

As As Doctor Rumble said in his Radio Replies (a transcript of queries about catholicism organised into three volumes in the 1950s), there is no atheism without some sin.

Another point: it is quite valid to see every atheist as an inchoate Mao, Hitler, Stalin, Genrikh Yagoda, etc., because they have no rational justification for not doing whatever they feel like - if that includes mass murder, should the inclination take them, why not?? After all, they effectively make themselves gods.

+ Albrecht von Brandenburg