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Beleaguered Catholic Church struggles against secular tide - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

Wasted Tourist, who contributed this link to the Discussion section, whence I moved it here, introduced it as follows:

The article is a muddled defence of Joseph Ratzinger and the Catholic Church, by way of a self-pitying whinge about how mean those Atheists are by scrutinising their beliefs, questioning their special privileges and demanding they answer serious charges of criminality.

It appears to be written by someone who has never bothered to engage or even listen to the arguments against organised religion and the Catholic Church specifically. What gives this away is that the writer jumps immediately to the denouncement and vilification of prominent secularist activists (A.C. Grayling a 'militant Atheist'? He's the most temperate speaker I've ever heard! A total kitten!) without tackling a single argument of theirs or even providing a quote. The writer seems to think the reasons why the Catholic Church is being attacked are merely trivial. I suppose it's understandable why religious people like the writer don't engage arguments against them: they don't actually want to be convinced out of believing what they wish to be true.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 16:56:48 UTC | #507509

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 2 by mirandaceleste

To stand up publicly and be counted as a Catholic in Britain right now can be to invite a tirade...

Peter Stanford, I'm playing the world's saddest song on the world's tiniest violin for you. Poor, poor baby!

In a recent interview, composer and devout Catholic James MacMillan, who has produced a new setting of the mass to mark the papal visit, labelled the current wave of anti-Catholicism as "the new antisemitism of the liberal intellectual"

That's a ridiculous and completely false analogy. And what's wrong with being openly anti-Catholicism? I don't understand why one shouldn't be proudly and openly opposed to the Catholic Church, to its nasty and backwards doctrine, and to the damaging effects of its actions and inaction.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:18:00 UTC | #507516

1Derek's Avatar Comment 3 by 1Derek

"Beleaguered Catholic Church struggles against secular tide", is this code for strong argument? There has to be a reason why so many intelligent people conform to the religious position, some believe but I suspect most are disingenuous.

Off topic here: I live near one of the Papal visits and the local schools have to be closed that day. So its a day for prayer and no education.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:20:28 UTC | #507518

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 4 by Stevehill

Read with skepticism.

Peter Stanford was schooled in Ireland by the Christian Brothers and used to edit the Catholic Herald (a job in fairness he was obliged to resign from after co-writing the racy tome "Catholics and Sex").

He's written a lot of books about Catholicism including biographies of Cardinal Hume and Lord Longford. He probably has far more baggage than he can reasonably carry on this topic if we are to expect a properly critical appraisal of the Pope.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:21:25 UTC | #507519

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 5 by God fearing Atheist

But he concedes there may be a case for him and his colleagues to engage in "a little more searching and even brutal debate". It will be music to the pope's ears.

Bring it on!

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:25:01 UTC | #507521

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 6 by Neodarwinian

The usual playing of the victim card. A little bit of " of the shoe being on the other foot " should be acceptable to them, but they have had it their own way so long that the disconnect from reality is not reversible.

Secular tide to secular tsunami!

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:33:16 UTC | #507524

Ygern's Avatar Comment 7 by Ygern

Yeuch, what a pathetic litany of self-pity and ignorance.

As an ex-Catholic I can only shake my head in disbelief when I hear any Catholic express confusion or dismay at the current antagonism against the Pope and other powers that be.

Which part of systemic child abuse and deliberate cover-up do you not get?

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:37:18 UTC | #507528

Ivan The Not So Bad's Avatar Comment 8 by Ivan The Not So Bad

So why don't other Catholics follow MacMillan's example and speak up more often in their own defence?

Because all you have to offer is incoherent, second-hand, self-centred, self-pitying, intellectually vacuous, rambling and dishonest waste-of-everyone's time arsecock like this.

I could fart.

Whatever, join me here:

Protest the Pope

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:38:01 UTC | #507529

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins

One thing caught my sceptical eye, the statement that there are 6 million Catholics in England, Wales and Scotland. Since Stanford quotes a much smaller number as being regular churchgoers, I am left wondering where the figure of 6 million comes from. It perhaps comes from so-called 2008 statistics, which also give a figure of 13.4 million Anglicans. It is possible, given that I was baptized as an infant, that I am one of the 13.4 million recorded Anglicans, and several of my atheist friends may be in there swelling the 'millions' of Catholics. Alternatively, the figures may stem from census data, in which case it seems highly likely that many people simply ticked the box labelled Anglican or Catholic automatically, without pausing consider that the question might mean anything more than "In which church were you baptized as an infant?"

Britain is to have another census in 2011. I think we should start a campaign now to raise people's consciousness so that, when they come to the religion question, they give a realistic answer. It may also be necessary to lobby the census organization, to make sure they pose the religion question properly.

Richard

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:44:00 UTC | #507530

Narvi's Avatar Comment 10 by Narvi

who want the pope to be arrested for what they allege is his complicity in covering up the crimes of paedophile priests.

How about this moron actually look at what the pope himself has written about protecting paedophiles? You don't NEED to listen to our side, they've hanged themselves often enough on their own.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:51:25 UTC | #507532

BoltzmannBrain's Avatar Comment 11 by BoltzmannBrain

France is often claimed to be a Catholic-majority country. Maybe Richard's observation carries over to France.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 17:52:17 UTC | #507533

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 12 by AtheistEgbert

Peter Stanford is a former editor of the Catholic Herald. His latest book, >The Extra Mile: A 21st Century Pilgrimage, is published by Continuum

Not very surprising then that Peter Stanford writes a apologistic piece defending Catholicism.

I wonder what Peter Stanford's position is on homosexuals? And if it is typically Catholic, then why does he whine about not being treated fairly in a debate? Why does he wish to call those who oppose such views as prejudice? Pot-Kettle-Black. He claims we're more tolerant today because we don't think about MP's being Catholic or not. I think we need to increase our tolerance even more and question the tolerance of MP's that hold prejudicial views because of their religious beliefs. Surely tolerating intolerance is irrational?

This is the typical stance of the modern educated Catholic, to hold up their hands and pretend that everyone is against them, but don't bother to question their own bigoted prejudice and resentment towards others and their denial of their destructive policies in developing countries.

No surprise that when immigrants get a good education and belong to a more secular society than their former Catholic countries, they decide to no longer attend their church every sunday. How telling is that.

Catholics really should begin to question why they are attacking Secularism, as it tolerates all religions, including Catholicism. Such blatantly non-thinking remarks may expose them as a religion that isn't interested in co-existing in a modern world but only in dominating it.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 18:00:10 UTC | #507534

bigJ's Avatar Comment 13 by bigJ

Regarding Richard's comment #9. On the 2001 Canadian census, some 21,000 recorded their religion as Jedi. I'm sure that a similar proportion in the UK will essentially tell the census takers to mind their own business.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 18:00:16 UTC | #507535

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 14 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins :

I followed a link from this site within the last week to where a Catholic priest/bishop stated it was impossible to leave the Catholic church once baptised. Even excommunication doesn't get one off the roll. It may therefore be the baptism records. I'll try to find the link again.

EDIT: The link is here (oops, misremembered that, it was a post not a linked article!)

Britain is to have another census in 2011. I think we should start a campaign now to raise people's consciousness so that, when they come to the religion question, they give a realistic answer. It may also be necessary to lobby the census organization, to make sure they pose the religion question properly.

It is essential. I know the BHA have been campaigning. Last I heard they were suggesting a re-phrasing of the question, which is both phrased and used as a proxy for ethnicity. My last info. was the BHA had lost. I worked on the 1991 census, and the Govt. statisticians do play those kind of games. For instance, they know people can't count the number of rooms in their dwelling. Some people count a hall as a room, others don't. They try to word the questions appropriately, but still get systematic errors.

I also saw in a newspaper that the Govt. are considering alternatives to the census. So this one might be the last one. It might be important to "stamp" it with a rise in atheism.

Updated: Sun, 29 Aug 2010 18:10:52 UTC | #507536

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 15 by mirandaceleste

Count Me Out is a great resource regarding leaving the Catholic Church.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 18:16:47 UTC | #507547

bungoton's Avatar Comment 16 by bungoton

Re comment #9 by Richard Dawkins

If you were ever baptized a Catholic you will remain that way in the eyes of the church until you officially request to be released. They don't care if you attend mass or take part in any other rituals or even if you have stopped believing.

Here are some instructions of how to defect from the church.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3HE7mWQOzU

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 18:17:37 UTC | #507548

quarecuss's Avatar Comment 17 by quarecuss

BlockquoteFor almost three centuries after Henry VIII's break with Rome, those who remained Catholic in Britain faced something much worse than verbal attacks. It was a period of intense persecution with penal laws, Catholics barred from holding public office and even, at times, owning land, and the prospect of imprisonment, torture and execution if caught attending mass. Blockquote

Of course Catholics in Britain and Ireland were persecuted for generations but how can Stanford possibly use this fact as proof of continuing "secular" antagonism against his church when he must know full well that it was a non-secular system of government, an "established church", Christian, Anglican, Protestant, sectarian government that discriminated against and persecuted Catholics, just as Queen "Bloody" Mary's "established" Catholic government persecuted Protestants? It wasn't until truly quasi-secular governments in the 20th century started to come to power that the persecution and prejudice of Catholics gradually came to an end. He should be thanking secularism for putting up with his outmoded beliefs and those of his old Anglican persecutors, instead of playing the whinging-victim Catholic tune. I was raised a Catholic in Northern Ireland. I know whereof I speak. If it hadn't been for the British 1947 Education Act (secular!) I, for one, would not have had the basic tools that made me just about fit enough to appreciate Richard Dawkins's books or understand David Hume or A. C. Grayling and thankfully see through the superstition that still deeply tainted even my education in a Catholic secondary school through the 1960's. This kind of apologist whining just drives us ex-Catholics further and further away from his abysmal institution and its cousins. Thank Jebus (and secularism) for that!

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 18:33:10 UTC | #507555

frax71's Avatar Comment 18 by frax71

I would like to ask Peter Stanford what the following countries have in common-the United States,Germany,Italy,Netherlands,Austria,Switzerland,Belgium,Malta,Spain,and Brazil.Just in case he does not know I will tell him.In every one of the above a major chid abuse scandal involviing Catholic priests. has been discovered or is under investigation.So pleeeeease lay off the self pitying whine about how hard done by individual catholics are, and stand up ya twat and admit that the institutional sexual abuse of children has been tolerated and covered by the catholic hierarchy right up to and incuding Ratzinger

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 18:54:07 UTC | #507564

frax71's Avatar Comment 19 by frax71

tolerated and covered UP (sorry)

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 18:57:09 UTC | #507566

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 20 by Stafford Gordon

Damn! Everything I was going to say has already been said.

S G

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 19:03:26 UTC | #507570

Bernard Hurley's Avatar Comment 21 by Bernard Hurley

Comment 15 by mirandaceleste

Count Me Out is a great resource regarding leaving the Catholic Church.

Why should I have to formally resign from an organisation that I never agreed to join in the first place? Suppose I were to invent a religion and then arbitrarily decide that everyone who contributes to this forum is a member. Would it be reasonable to quote the number of members of that religion on this basis? Or would it be dishonest? Would it be a reasonable defence to say "Well, I do have a procedure whereby members can leave if they wish to"?

It RCC is dishonest in the way it counts its membership. I will object to this dishonesty; I will try to expose it; but I will not go through their silly procedure. As far as I am concerned I did not willingly join this organisation, they have no right to call me a member and they have no right to insist I go through some silly procedure before they stop doing so.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 19:12:41 UTC | #507575

steve oberski's Avatar Comment 22 by steve oberski

new breed of abrasive secularists

This would be a secularist that you can no longer burn at the stake.

How sad for you.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 19:23:26 UTC | #507577

frax71's Avatar Comment 23 by frax71

Dear Peter when you met that awful bully AC Grayling why did you not call upon god to protect you? as I understand it, that is what he is "there" for

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 19:23:36 UTC | #507579

serotonin_wraith's Avatar Comment 24 by serotonin_wraith

An even playing field? Of course not, and had a representative of any other minority been set up in such a fashion the entire literary world would have been signing petitions. But I was defending the Catholic church, so normal rules didn't apply.

You mean you don't have an all knowing, all powerful creator of time and space on your side, with you at all times, who will prove he exists and punish all these non Catholics anyway?

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 19:29:17 UTC | #507582

Philoctetes                                        's Avatar Comment 25 by Philoctetes

I doubt many of us would criticise Roman Catholics if they practiced their religion in the privacy of their own home or church. We do have a problem when they attempt to impose their views on to secular society, in particular in the fields of education and medicine. We also expect them to keep within society's laws and be punished when they break them and we do not expect the RCC to provide sanctuary for criminals within or without their church.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 19:30:50 UTC | #507583

Tiende Landeplage's Avatar Comment 26 by Tiende Landeplage

Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins

A couple of years ago, a newspaper here in Norway published a letter by an irate Christian (she was a priest if I remember correctly), all about ”correcting” the statistics on religious belief, or rather religious nomenclature.

The gist of her letter was that she was sick and tired of seeing census reports that indicated an ever dwindling number of believing Christians in this country, contrasted with an increase in the number of Atheists as well as Muslims.

Her complaint was that the Muslim statistics included any person who happened to hail from a Muslim country, thus giving that religion an unfair statistical advantage over Christianity. Although she actually had a valid point (of sorts), her proposed solution was that all ”cultural Christians” — i.e. anybody whose lineage indicated a Christian tradition — should be counted as Christians, whether they were believers or not. This, as she admitted outright, simply to increase Christian percentage hugely and thus ”redressing the balance!

This brings to mind the problem of Religon and Language, or semantics. An interesting problem regarding the upcoming census you mention would be: How many ”cultural Muslims”, who are not in fact believers, would give an honest answer, or would even be given an opportunity to do so by the form of questioning?

Although it's a nice that Scandinavia seems to have a reputation for godlessness, even here I suspect there are many who lazily give a ”yes” answer on religion, and it may not even be attributable to the form of questioning, but just that people simply don’t give the matter much thought, or else are ”politely” non-committal ("Yeah, I guess I'm a Christian"). Additionally, there are continuous reports of churches that conveniently ”forget” to strike from their books the names of people who have explicitly renounced membership. The Humanist organization in Norway has had to campaign actively to get these forgetful churches to update their registers. And I see from other comments here that this is indeed a worldwide problem.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 19:33:28 UTC | #507585

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 27 by Stevehill

@RD - comment 9

"Britain is to have another census in 2011. I think we should start a campaign now to raise people's consciousness so that, when they come to the religion question, they give a realistic answer. It may also be necessary to lobby the census organization, to make sure they pose the religion question properly."

Hard to put this politely, but the BHA of which you are vice president did so - without success.

The campaign continues however to press for people to answer the (dumb) question responsibly. So I'm still a Jedi Knight then.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 20:47:22 UTC | #507611

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 28 by God fearing Atheist

If the next Atheist Bus Campaign was about ticking the right box on the census form, would the police be called?

In other words, it it legal to influence the census return? My guess is it isn't legal, but parliment might have missed it when drafting legislation.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 21:03:40 UTC | #507622

jac12358's Avatar Comment 29 by jac12358

Comment 9 by Richard Dawkins :

One thing caught my sceptical eye, the statement that there are 6 million Catholics in England, Wales and Scotland. Since Stanford quotes a much smaller number as being regular churchgoers, I am left wondering where the figure of 6 million comes from. It perhaps comes from so-called 2008 statistics, which also give a figure of 13.4 million Anglicans. It is possible, given that I was baptized as an infant, that I am one of the 13.4 million recorded Anglicans, and several of my atheist friends may be in there swelling the 'millions' of Catholics. Alternatively, the figures may stem from census data, in which case it seems highly likely that many people simply ticked the box labelled Anglican or Catholic automatically, without pausing consider that the question might mean anything more than "In which church were you baptized as an infant?"

Britain is to have another census in 2011. I think we should start a campaign now to raise people's consciousness so that, when they come to the religion question, they give a realistic answer. It may also be necessary to lobby the census organization, to make sure they pose the religion question properly.

Richard

I agree that it would be very wise to educate the public and census organizers to produce questions and answers that accurately reflect reality.

However, I felt that your argument that you and a few atheist friends might be artificially inflating the 6 million figure. How many "lapsed Anglicans" could there be to deviate statistically from the 6 million figure? So on one level it appears that it won't change the answer by much, and on the other hand I am reminded of the same argument by "global warming deniers" who claim that their names have remained on the so-called list of scientists in consensus. How would the error matter in one realm and not the other. True, there are more Catholics than scientists on the list, but I would argue the point is that the difference is negligible in terms of PERCENTAGE.

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 21:58:26 UTC | #507636

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 30 by Mr DArcy

What a tedious article. Others have said what I would have said, but if the RCC wants to misrepresent the number of its active supporters in Britain, then it is indeed deluding itself. It reminds me of Gogol's novel Dead Souls, a 19th century Ponzi scheme based upon dead peasants in Tsarist Russia!

Sun, 29 Aug 2010 22:12:21 UTC | #507645