Paul Sims, news editor of the New Humanist magazine (motto: "Ideas for Godless People") has posted a thoughtful piece on the NH website which exemplifies the true humanist spirit of tolerance and respect. He ponders the question of whether it is time for a "rapprochement" between Catholics and secularists. He quotes with approval the Pope's words in Westminster Hall -- “the world of reason and the world of faith - the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief - need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue" -- and thinks this underlines the need for engagement.
He disapproves of some of the protesters' more lurid slogans. "For progress to be made, critics of the Church need to find sympathetic ears among Catholics, and some of the stronger rhetoric we have heard during the Pope’s visit can only reduce the chance of this happening," he notes, before taking note of the huge crowds who waited for the Popemobile to pass; "the fact is," says Sims, "that in the eyes of many Benedict XVI was welcome here. Many oppose the Church, but many support it. The Papal Visit was an opportunity for both sides to debate the reasons for this, but what we have seen are two distinct groups in our society that appear to be talking past one another, while many others (perhaps the majority) look on in confusion."
Agreeing with Sims about the need for engagement -- Catholic Voices was created for that purpose -- Monitor has been in touch with him to suggest a Catholic-humanist dialogue in print, looking at the topics which divide Catholic humanists from secular humanists. We are now "in discussion".
Thursday, 23 September 2010
[D] espite the most prominent theme of Saturday’s protest being the Church’s condom policy in Africa, there was not a single African in the march as far as I could see. There were a handful of black British people and a handful of Asian women, but the crowd was 99 per cent white and very middle-class looking.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some of the noblest protests, from Prague 68 to Tehran 09, have been dominated by the middle-class; neither does their racial composition make any difference to their message – either they’re right or wrong. But it is strange that no Africans came to protest Vatican policy in Africa.
In contrast thousands of Africans came to welcome the pope in Hyde Park, Ugandans, Nigerians, Zimbabweans, Malawians and many others, as well as thousands of Filipinos, Indians, Iraqis, Poles, Germans, and Irish. The masses gathered there largely represented the children of immigrants brought in to work while Europeans enjoyed the labours of their ancestors. Undoubtedly they want to be part of European civilisation and our way of life – and it’s represented best by the man in the white Mercedes-Benz.
A statement earlier today from Eccleston Square:
The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales are delighted at the success of the recent Visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom.
The Bishops wish to express their sincere appreciation to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for extending the invitation to the Holy Father to make this State Visit and their thanks to the countless number of people who came to express their affection and support for His Holiness. Particular tribute must be paid to all those who helped to organise and implement the Visit, both nationally and locally.
Most specially, the Bishops extend their profound gratitude to the Holy Father for the time that he spent among us. His four day visit has been remarkable in so many ways and has given new life and hope to people both within and beyond the Catholic community in these lands. There is much to be gained, in many different ways, from further reflection on this Visit not only for Catholics but for our wider society too.