Tag Archives: catholic

The Pagan and the Pope

So, we have a new Pope. Now, as a Pagan it might seem that I shouldn’t have much to say on the subject, but the size and wealth of the Catholic Church inclines me to feel that this has at least the potential for major impact. I live in hope. From the news this morning I understand that, in his former life, Pope Francis used the bus, did his own shopping, cooked his own meals and went into slums. He spoke in favour of baptising the children of unmarried mothers. I gather he’s not pro gay marriage or women Bishops, but I can’t see they’d have let anyone that radical into the top job. By all accounts, our new Pope cares about poverty and the environment. The question is, will he act on that, or will he let the corporate Vatican tame him? Keep him in your prayers, because if he’s half of what he seems to be, he’s going to need all the well wishing he can get.

There is an issue that lies under poverty, and under environmental problems, and that issue is population. Without talking about birth rates, and the implications of those for child poverty and death in the developing world, no real change can happen. There’s the aids crisis to consider, too. Education of women, rights for women – if all you do is squeeze out babies, this is a moot point. Currently the Catholic Church does not approve of contraception.

What the world desperately needs is a Pope with the courage, compassion and humanity to get up and use that infallible Popeness to good effect. He could decide that Jesus wants us all to be a bit less fruitful so that we can properly take care of the children we’ve got. He could change much of the world, and the lives of a great many people living in it. He could give countless families opportunity to escape poverty, and to build better lives for themselves, and a more manageable, planned number of offspring. He could help reduce the spread of aids, and he could radically impact on the viability of us as a species. Not many people get that much power.

Furthermore, we all know the Catholic Church is obscenely wealthy. Here is a man who has professed that as a Christian, he chooses poverty, and who through his work has shown a willingness to try and alleviate the abject and intolerable levels of poverty others suffer. How much power does he now have? How much wealth? How far is he willing to go?

Let’s hope he’s as good as he sounds, and as able to resist the allure of power and wealth as possible. Active compassion in the Vatican could make a world of difference.

Gay marriage, druidry and the slippery slope

Catholic Bishops are, I gather, up in arms in the UK about our government’s plans to make same-sex marriage legal. We’ll skip quickly over the hypocrisy of a church that deliberately covered up child abuse crimes and head for the slippery slope.

One of the most readily trawled out concepts by people who do not like a thing, is that it provides a gateway to something much, much worse. Thus you can get up in public, suggest you don’t think gay people are entirely awful, but question where this is going, what will it lead to? We must stop now before the rot really sets in, and so forth. It creates fear, Lovecraft-style, of some nameless dread, too terrible to describe.

Pagans get hit with this one regularly too along, no doubt, with plenty of other interesting minority folk. A bit of nature worship isn’t so terrible, but where does that lead, eh? Next thing you know there will be naked dancing, virgin sacrifice and Satan will personally turn up, and then things will happen that are too awful to put into words. Better to be very frightened right now and say ‘no’. It’s such an easy trick to pull. It plays to people’s fear of the unknown, very deliberately. And of course because the objectors are never going to pin down the nature of their nameless dreads, there is no scope for having a debate with them.

As they said on The Now Show last night, what gay marriage will probably lead to is some people having better decorated houses. Gay marriage is a move towards inclusion, tolerance and generally being a nicer society to live in. If you don’t like gay marriage, it’s very simple, don’t marry someone of the same sex. Perhaps the Catholics fear it’s going to be made obligatory! But what could be on the slippery slope? How about polyamorous marriage? More than two people who want to commit, being allowed to do so. Forgive me if I fail to see how that’s going to destroy Western civilization any time soon. It will very likely keep a good few lawyers in gainful employment though.

Laws do not prevent people from loving. They also don’t prevent people from cheating, abusing and perverting the system. Laws provide a framework in which we can try to rub along with each other, but they never have, and never will cause people to live in a moral way. The whole point of morals is that they have to come from within, you can’t enforce them. By giving people maximum choice, you also give them the freedom to be moral. Surely for a gay Catholic, making the sacrifice of not adopting the mainstream attitude to your sexual preferences would be a far more meaningful spiritual action than just not being allowed in the first place?

Slippery slope arguments tend to be employed by people who do not have a decent case. It’s one thing if you can prove a causal link, but usually the links are all imaginary. Of course one of the known causal links is that when you allow people freedom of conscience, they don’t always do what you want them to. If your spiritual power base depends on legal enforcement, the last thing you want is people having the power to choose. But real faith, real love, real commitments are chosen, not enforced. You can be a better sort of Catholic in a system that doesn’t oblige you to turn up and confess every week, but where you do that because you feel it and believe it. I think you also get better marriages where people are there by choice and can get out if they are miserable. Choice is good, and the slippery slope is frequently a work of fiction.