A short way with dissenters

Hey, why not ask the pope to host Point of Inquiry? He’s a reasonable guy – rational, thoughtful, fair-minded, generous, liberal.

The Pope confirmed today that he will make an official state visit to Britain this September – and immediately launched an attack on the Government’s plans to introduce stronger equality legislation for gay men and women. In the first official announcement from the Vatican that the head of the Roman Catholic Church will tour Britain, Pope Benedict XVI called on his bishops to continue campaigning against the Equality Bill which he said threatened religious freedom.

That’s nice, isn’t it? A German fella who’s the boss of a large church based in Rome is telling British bishops to campaign against equality legislation – because it’s really up to Ratzinger to decide what kind of laws the UK should have. Not to mention the whole business of making a big public show of resisting equality in the first place.

In a letter to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, many of whom are currently in Rome on an “ad limina” visit, Pope Benedict publicly criticised Britain’s equality legislation for the first time. “Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society,” he wrote. “Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.”

Yes, there speaks the voice of the papacy and the church – the one that likes to deliver occasional announcements about the ‘natural law’ that dictates that women are different from men and had damn well better not forget it. Reactionary bastards.

In a separate warning to any bishop thinking of deviating from the Vatican’s lead on such controversial issues, Pope Benedict also reiterated the need for the Church to “speak with a united voice. In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognise dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate,” he said. “It is the truth revealed through scripture and tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.”

Yes indeed, and arbeit macht frei. There’s no freedom like the freedom of scripture and the Church’s Magisterium, so kindly recognize dissent for what it is and STFU.

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