Thursday, 9 September 2010

Opponents of papal visit 'are the real bigots'

So says Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail in a thoughtful piece. "The Devil himself could hardly have got a worse press", he says of media coverage of the Pope a week before he arrives in the UK. Glover goes on to point out some of the oddities in the coverage, such as the objections to costs -- yet there was no objection to the cost of the state visit of South Africa President Jacob Zuma, "a misogynist polygamist -- and last night's LSE lecture by Geoffrey Robertson QC, which revealed the barrister to be the "true extremist". Glover is not Catholic, and "disagrees", he says, with Benedict XVI on many issues; but he recognises him to be  "a humane man", admirable in many ways. And he wonders where the hatred comes from.

I have been trying to puzzle out the sheer bloody mindedness and unreasonableness of some of the Pope’s critics. In part it must arise from ancient feelings of fear and hatred about the Vatican and the Papacy which run very deep in this country for well-known historical reasons, and which I have owned up to sharing, albeit in a tiny degree.
But there is something else at work, even more intolerant. It is the voice of secular humanism.I accept, of course, that lots of secular humanists are tolerant and reasonable people. But there is a hard-core which embraces and promotes atheism with the blind fervour of religious zealots.Richard Dawkins is my prime exhibit, but there are many others.
Such people can just about put up with wishy-washy Anglican clerics who substitute fashionable secular platitudes for traditional beliefs, and often display a very faint faith in God. What these zealots find detestable in Pope Benedict is not only his utter refusal to buy into their secular liberal beliefs, but also his power and effectiveness in sustaining an alternative, God-based moral system.