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The morality of pope bashing

The Local · 13 Sep 2011, 15:43

Published: 13 Sep 2011 15:43 GMT+02:00

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When Dutch politician Geert Wilders talks about Islam, it doesn't just sound like he's engaged in rabble-rousing, he actually is. The list of remonstrations Wilders makes against Muslims is long: terrorism and Sharia, headscarves or mosques, homophobia or anti-Israel sentiment. He's fighting them all, and he's fighting Islam. Wilders' protégés, including the candidate for Berlin’s populist Freedom party, René Stadtkewitz, do the very same.

In return, Wilders and his lot have been rightly criticised by many.

The indignation is especially strong among members of Germany’s socialist party The Left. It's about "extreme-right parties" conducting an "election campaign on the back of Muslims living in Germany," according to a press release from the office of The Left parliamentarian Ulla Jelpke. She says that "Islam is being attacked" and "fears stoked about Islamisation." In a short letter to the government, she bemoans the "rising levels of Islamophobia" in Germany by which "social harmony, the peaceful co-existence of people and the basic right to religious freedom" in the country is endangered.

Of course, one should be able criticize Islam freely, just as one should be able to disparage other religions, whether Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism or various forms of Christianity. Catholicism’s highest representative, Pope Benedict XVI, is set to arrive in Germany next week on an official visit. Among his activities is a planned address in front of the German parliament. And it's this speech that one-half of the 76 members of the Left party's parliamentary group intend to boycott. Instead they will join demonstrations against the Bavarian-born pontiff once known as Joseph Ratzinger.

The reasons behind this have been expressed in various publications. The pope is the "head of the only explicitly anti-democratic state in Europe"; the Vatican "cooperated closely with German and Italian fascists" in the past; the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Ratzinger headed for many years, is "the successor of the Inquisition, which in the Middle Ages was responsible for the persecution of witches"; and the position of the Catholic Church is anti-sex, anti-woman and homophobic while its stance on condom use in the era of AIDS is "criminal."

No, when it comes to rabble-rousing, there's really no difference here at all. German leftists stir up fears about Catholicism in almost the exact same way that right-wing populists do against Islam. Whether it's Ulla Jelpke or René Stadtkewitz, The Left party's Andrej Hunko or Geert Wilders, on both sides you will find the same eagerness for insult, scorn and hate. If someone like Stadtkewitz is guilty of breaching public order and flouting religious freedom, his critics from The Left party might want to look in the mirror. Islamophobia and an equally irrational fear of Catholicism are two sides of the same coin.

Now it might be argued that Islamophobia in Germany is directed at a minority which needs special protection. But it's not as simple as that. In many parts of Germany, Christians are also in the minority. In Leipzig, they make up mere 12 percent of the population, in the Hamburg district of Veddel, 15 percent. In Berlin as well there are now neighbourhoods that have more Muslims than Christians.

Story continues below…

Criticizing religion is fine, but damning Catholicism while at the same time denouncing critics of Islam reeks of hypocrisy.

This commentary was published with the kind permission of Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, where it originally appeared in German. Translation by The Local.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:09 September 13, 2011 by Wise Up!
The big difference is that the left are atheists and do not believe in God.
22:45 September 13, 2011 by Larry Thrash
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
06:51 September 14, 2011 by maatf
Bashing the Pope and his Catholicism is the same as bashing Muslims for being Muslims. A real liberal would appreciate the gifts of both. It might help if the Left demonstrated the good behavior they wish the Right would show by politely attending the Pope's speech. It is amazing what acting like an adult and showing respect for another can do .
07:54 September 14, 2011 by Englishted
Yes it is the same from left and right.

So take the middle road and don't allow any none elected despot to speak to a democratically elected Parliament .

Show some respect to the electorate.
08:50 September 14, 2011 by wood artist
Although it may be a narrow distinction (and I freely admit that) there does seem to be one difference between the two situations.

Much of the anti-Islam sentiment obviously comes from the terrorist attacks and the acknowledgement that not many in the Islamic leadership have taken a strong position against them.

Much of the anti-Catholic sentiment seems to come from the continuing list of abuse cases, and the apparent trail of cover-up and "institutional ignoring" that it was going on, a trail that arguably leads directly to the Pope himself.

So, the difference, in some ways, is based upon the perception that the Catholic leadership was implicitly involved, while the Islamic leadership simply doesn't condemn terrorism.

In both cases, to condemn all for the "sins" of some is unrealistic, but the perceived difference is not unimportant.

14:38 September 14, 2011 by ND1000
@wood artist, another reason for the Catholic bashing is that some people just think its chic. They'll bash anything that they think makes them appear like an intellectual. Many of these people are often poorly educated posers who will pontificate about anything as long as it impresses their friends or hairy pitted girlfriend. You can meet many of them on here crying about the wicked USA. A lot of these people pretend to love communism but would never dream of living in a communist country like the one I grew up in. They also sometimes will sport a Che Guevera (spelling?) t-shirt. Try reading The Onion if you want to see them bashed a bit.
18:27 September 14, 2011 by AlForLife
This is nonsense.

Well thought-out protest is a mainstay of democracy. The reasons for the measured objection against the Vatican are valid, and have been listed in full above.

To state that this is in some way comparable to bigotry is ridiculous. By this logic, dislike of armed robbers, or mobsters, or child molesters is the mark of a bigot.

'Fears about Catholicism' is disingenuous. There is no protest against Catholics here, it is a protest against the sinister hierarchy which stifles equality and which preaches doctrines which directly contribute to the misery and death of millions.

This article is shameful.
08:38 September 15, 2011 by delvek

I think you are completely correct. I think its important not to confuse the selet minimal abuses of some priests with the positive message and work the Church does globally. You dont have to agree with the Catholic Church but to catergorically judge all priests is a very ignorant thing to do.

We all should only be as giving as most priests are of their lives.

@AIforlife: "contribute to the misery and death of millions" only thing today that is relevant to that is abortion ... I dont believe the Catholic church advocates for abortion.
12:15 September 15, 2011 by AlForLife

So denying the use of condoms to communities fraught with HIV/AIDS is not causing death and misery in your book? In that case, we obviously have a profoundly different definition of 'death and misery', with one based on actual evidence, and one based on... well. Why don't you tell me?

Your snide comment about abortion only shows how mixed-up your supposed morality is. It's sad to see someone so proud of their mental chains.
14:24 September 15, 2011 by delvek
I would rather be snide then sadistic.

Fact is there are more abortions then HIV deaths.

Watch a video of the path of an embryo up until the last date then can legally abort and you tell me what it is. Pompous attitude to discredit a life because its inconvenient.

I am mixed up? lol, I say your mixed up!

Can you give me an examply of HIV/AIDS communities that are facing death because the Catholic church doesnt recognize condoms. Did you know that the Catholic church says lieing is wrong yet we all have lied. All sin is supposed to be equal there isnt categories of sin so if someone lied why would they not use a condom if they are in a situation where they might contract HIV? Oh, well if they are a practicing Catholic then they shouldnt be having sex outside of wedlock anyway, not much HIV risk there.

Wow, how am I mixed up, I say you are mixed up.

Why dont you tell me?
09:45 September 16, 2011 by freechoice
Actually Atheism caused more death than Christianity Crusade combined.

Stalin with his millions persecution and Mao, great leap forward, which caused the death of more millions.

Now should we start to bash Atheists now?
23:48 September 18, 2011 by wxman
@freechoice is an observant historian. As opposed, of course, to godless athiest socialists, but I'm being redundant.
03:06 September 19, 2011 by lenny van
Because, logically, a thing cannot create itself because it already exists. many people wonder how a material world can exist. (a spiritual existence (lol). Many believe that there is an existence apart from the material world. It's either creation or evolution. The argument that a thing has to exist before it can evolve and that evolution is only the process that a created thing uses to survive is stupid,. The world evolved and only stupid people believe that it was created.

Religious people will have us believe that a spiritual being created the world within the last ten or twenty thousand years, but obviously that is impossible because scientists can prove that the physical world has existed for many millions of years. Maybe the spiritual being that created the world must have done a computer-simulation in his head (lol) and then decided at some point to transform the world in his mind into a physical world.

That would mean that everything was created with its "baggage", i.e history. It sounds weird, but it would explain why dinosaur fossils are laying around and scientists can rewind the physical world back to the singularity (one ten million, trillion, trillion, trillion trillionth of a second of a second after the Big Bang), but it is really stupid.

Why do the religious people call it the Big bang, anyway? If something expands 10,000,000,000,000,000,00,000 times in one million ,million, million, million, million, millionth of a second, I'd call that an "appearance" or something that someone pictured in his mind.

And why would the spiritual thing stop the computer-simulation and "materialize" the universe after the last ice age was coming to an end as some stupid people believe? Maybe he got confused and stopped io find the missing link. Physically, man is almost a perfect copy of the last humanoid apes, who could speak, make tools, etc. If the spiritual thing could transform an idea into the physical world, he should be smart enough to know the difference between an a man-ape and an ape-man. Religious people argue that the difference between them is that he breathed his spirit into the ape-man and called him Adam (lol).

They say that he created the world in seven days, but how did he know what a day was? On the first ¦quot;day¦quot;, they say, he created light, but you can¦#39;t see light unless it shines on something. Da, he still couldn¦#39;t see what he was doing. Light only exists if it is moving and is defined by time and space. Would time and space rrally have to be created? According to the religious fanatics, he didn¦#39;t create the sun¦quot; to rule the day and the moon to rule the night¦quot; until later in the week. He must have looked back at his computer-simulation to know how long a day and night was (lol).

.Who could believe all of that. In fact, nothing exploded and we evolved by chance. Some of us are really lucky that we are smart and know the truth. Pity all of the stupid people who don't think deeply enough.
03:50 September 19, 2011 by shiraz
The Roman Catholics are OUR people who turn the other cheek and are meek and loving like "the Man" they follow. Muslims have made warfare holy and exhort an "eye for an eye" calling it justice. They stress their definition of "justice" over love and mercy (which is higher than every definition of justice). There is a big difference between Roman Catholics and Muslims. If we criticize the Roman Catholics we do so because they are ours (and the harsher is our criticism) but the Muslims most would rather not bother with - since most of them (consciously or unconsciously) work on our behalf fighting cold wars against our enemies and what not - they call themselves "slaves" for heaven's sakes (and for a reason too).
14:14 September 19, 2011 by delvek
@ lenny van

The one word you are not factoring into ones belief probably because you base all your beliefs with scientists is that FAITH is a major component to those that believe in a creator.

I totally disagree with you but could never write as much as you did with such hate, dude, seriously, step away from the mouse and get some fresh air.

It would be pointless to discuss further but can only wish you the best with your belief when this short life we are given is over. Good read though, lol, not.
22:39 September 19, 2011 by Ed Tracey
I don't agree with this. The outcry against Muslims is often aimed personally, threatening bodily harm, to prevent the construction of mosques, restricting minarets, and while there is 'criticism' against Wilders et al, it often is accompanied by "But he has many valid points, you see ...."

By contrast, one doesn't see campaigns against individual Catholics, arguing to remove their crucifixes, trying to prevent the building of Catholic churches, etc.

As a Catholic myself, I certainly don't care for rank discrimination (and hail to Otto von Habsburg for helping to escort Ian Paisley from the EU Parliament chamber when Paisely tried to shut down Pope John Paul II's address several years ago.)

But the author's claim that "criticizing religion is fine" is a distinction without difference in this case - he sounds like he is in Bishop Protection mode. He offers no suggestion of what would be a valid criticism of Catholicism; just seems on guard.
12:53 September 20, 2011 by freechoice
Man places too much hope on Scientists. They are being sued in Italy for not predicting what God is going to do next!!
14:34 September 20, 2011 by baddaboom
excuse me while i go on a RANT!!!!!

stone age primitve superstitious CULTS be they european mid-eastern are NEO-LITHIC meaning NONE of them have advanced out of the NEW-neo STONE AGE

they are utterly primitive

COME ON ! the blood sacrifice-IE:the menstral period, born of a virgin?

if you speak german here is a thought- scheide also called seide as in synthesis by the old tongue

ODIN was hung from a tree and a SPEAR thrust into his SIDE SEIDE the so called christ was executed and a SPEAR THRUST into his SIDE SEIDE

and the blood and water came out BOTH ODIN and CHRIST

both exactly the same both exactly what happens to a WOMAN when she HAS SEX the 1st time and experiances the RAPTURE..''rape''

the spear is OBVIOUSLY a PENIS metaphor the same word is even used in greek for spear and penis

all of it hysteria mistranslated by stupid GAY MEN who had a little bit of radio knowledge or weissenheit-womans wisdom the ''wisdom''

COME ON any one with the smallest WIT can figure out the METAPHORS

BTW it was THEODORA the wife of the byzantine emperor CONSTANTINE who influenced him to make the CROSS the emblem of the christian cult

its VERY OLD its the SYMBOL of VENUS a CIRCLE WITH A CROSS beneath it people were it on their necks since the menstral peroid is a CHAIN on the necks of women or so they say

in ancient times it was known as the MIRROR of VENUS and made of POLISED COPPER as an actual mirror -interstingly when a woman is PREGNENT her body produces large amounts of COPPER SERUM via the PLACENTA in order to make blood vessals etc in the fetus

the cross itself represent the SEIDE DOOR or SCHEIDE DOOR the entrance to synthesis ...its all old metaphors

at the time in the NEOLITHIC age COPPER was first MINED when all of these metaphoric concepts were adapted

16:29 September 23, 2011 by AlForLife

'I would rather be snide then sadistic'.

How about masochistic?

'Fact is there are more abortions then HIV deaths'.

And? Early-stage abortions are not the equivalent of the death of a developed human- the abortion of a small cluster of cells is categorically not the same as the death of a human being, with hopes, dreams, etc.

'Pompous attitude to discredit a life because its inconvenient'.

Nonsense. The pompous thing here is a group of people who believe that they have a message from the creator of the Universe, and that they need to push this 'message' on the rest of humanity. A man who never has sex detailing to those who do how they ought to go about it, and whether abortion is permissible or not.

'All sin is supposed to be equal'

Your bible says that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the greatest sin. Or did you decide to ignore that particular piece of nonsense?

'if they are in a situation where they might contract HIV? Oh, well if they are a practicing Catholic then they shouldnt be having sex outside of wedlock anyway, not much HIV risk there.

Wow, how am I mixed up, I say you are mixed up'.

The ramblings of a confused demagogue with little grasp on reality... I'm not mixed up, son. I know my mind and I'm proud of my morality. And I don't need a man in a dress to tell me how to live, either.
21:07 October 6, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
"Islamophobia and an equally irrational fear of Catholicism are two sides of the same coin." - only if the concerns are indeed irrational. Iran is about to execute a fellow for peacefully refusing to believe the way they demand he does and all the doctrines of Rome that cause the Inquisition are still in place (all Vat II does is allow for a democracy to do the executing for them).

"but damning Catholicism while at the same time denouncing critics of Islam reeks of hypocrisy." - not if you are an Islamophile :-)
07:59 November 20, 2011 by raywray
What exactly is meant in saying "Roman Catholics are OUR people"?

I am not a Roman Catholic and never will be.

Don't include me in the "OUR" and allied rhetoric.

By "OUR", is it meant 'white like me'?

I have noticed that if I openly express my deeply-held criticisms of Roman Catholicism, the result is that I am frequently actively and illegally harassed.

As another example of such active harassment, whenever a Roman Catholic prelate criticises gay people there follows a spate of assaults against gay people, by philosophically-emasculated, papist followers.

It is clear that the kinds of harassments I have experienced are sophisticated, destructive, well-practised, and obviously not invented for acting only against me: they are thus systematic - from the hierarchy: they are also internationally applied.

Perhaps because so many people regard Roman Catholics are "OURS", this illegal gang-stalking is not addressed by the establishment - for fear of aggravating social dissent.

Only extreme minorities of Muslim people engage in such violent, systematic activity possible because their religion is hierarchical, and what violent activity there is from them is clearly unreasonably provoked.

It is Bush and his Catholic/Zionist administration who turned the the Iraq war ' into a crusade'.

The only active provocation Roman Catholics experience is when their frequently mistaken principles; as dictated from the Vatican; or/and their drive to hegemony with energetic, and in some countries illegal, proselytising; are being challenged.
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