Pharyngula

No sense of humour at all

Some wag in the British government made a half-joking tentative itinerary for the Pope’s visit to England…and it got spread around and made some stuffed shirts very angry.

The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Nottingham, was astonished and angered by the proposals.

He said: “This is appalling. You don’t invite someone to your country and then disrespect them in this way.

“It’s outlandish and outrageous to assume that any of the ideas are in any way suitable for the Pope.”

i-88319a73204a2a82f70e39e559c6d30e-popehat.jpeg

The fellow who made the list has been chastised and transferred. Representatives of the government have crawled to the Vatican to apologize and beg forgiveness. It must have been a tremendous lampoon; I imagined it would propose all kinds of degrading behaviors, like “flounce around in a dress” (oh, hey, I think he’s going to do that one) or “wear a funny hat” (dang, another gimme) or “drink until swozzled” or maybe even “lose virginity to a mature and consenting woman”. You know, the kind of thing a joker like me might suggest.

But no. Here’s the list of proposals.

  • Launch of ‘Benedict’ condoms
  • Review of Vatican attitude on condom use
  • Bless a civil partnership
  • Reversal of policy on women bishops/ordain woman
  • Open an abortion ward
  • Speech on equality
  • Statemen on views over adoption (change of stance)
  • Training course for all bishops on child abuse allegations
  • Harder line on child abuse—announce sacking of dodgy bishops
  • Vatican sponsorship for network of AIDS clinics
  • Meet young unemployed people
  • Apologize for… …
  • Canonise/pseudo canonise a group
  • Announce whistle blowing system for child abuse cases
  • Go to job centre
  • Debate on abortion
  • All catholic schools should be free entry to all
  • Speech on democracy
  • Vatican and C of E funded committee on dialogue
  • Launch helpline for abused children

Hang on…those aren’t half bad. It’s not even a very funny list. They all propose confronting the Pope with the actual reality of his policies, or with the real problems that people in the country are facing. The list is clearly informed by opposition to the follies of Catholicism, but how should one greet the head of a bizarre but influential cult that continues to promote bad ideas and protect criminals? With simpering deference? Apparently, that’s what the appalled members of the government and various other institutions think. How dare some rascal in the ranks actually propose to make the Pope face facts or defend his policies?

Personally, I’d love to see the Pope in a debate on abortion, where he would actually have to address difficult questions and defend his own ideas. Best idea yet would be a debate on various controversial topics, like birth control, abortion, the role of women in the church, and homosexuality…with the Pope on one side, and Stephen Fry on the other. It could be perfectly respectful, and it would be hilarious.

Alternatively, if we just want to see the Pope flensed and the wounds rubbed with salt and sulfur, they could bring in Christopher Hitchens as the opponent. Either way, you know that the Pope would be demolished by bringing in any confrontation that didn’t simply bow obsequiously to his antique office.

Comments

  1. #1 Kirk
    April 24, 2010

    You don’t invite someone to your country and then disrespect them in this way.

    Or, alternatively, you don’t disrespect your country by inviting someone like this.

  2. #2 ashleyfmiller
    April 24, 2010

    I would feel like I’d just died and gone to heaven if Christopher Hitchens and the Pope ever had a one-on-one. Or Hitch and Fry had a two-on-one.

  3. #3 SteveV
    April 24, 2010

    There is understood to be increasing unease at the Vatican over the level of hostility that the Pope is likely to face in Britain, with protests and even threats of arrest from secularists. The disclosure of the secret proposals is bound to deepen concerns and cause dismay among the country?s four million Catholics.

    Imagine my concern.

  4. #4 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 24, 2010

    You don’t invite someone to your country and then disrespect them in this way.

    What’s the pope done to deserve respect?

  5. #5 Grizzly
    April 24, 2010

    It is just astounding what deference is paid to a religious leader (leaving aside the HoS issue) in comparison with (legitimate) foreign Heads of State who seem to be openly challenged on their country’s stance on controversial issues and accept that is part of the role of visiting another country. Forgive my lack of research but if Ratzi is not going to address such questions/issues, wtf is he actually going to be doing there and what’s the point?

  6. #6 samilobster
    April 24, 2010

    The fellow who made the list has been chastised and transferred.

    So making fun of child molesters gets you the same punishment they got?

  7. #7 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 24, 2010

    I don’t get it. Why is there so much servile deference to the pope, even among people who aren’t Catholic? The Vatican doesn’t have an army; it’s no military threat to anyone. Is the Vatican some sort of lynchpin in the international economy in a way I’m not aware of?

    Just what is this peculiar power it holds over public officials? Especially when it’s in the middle of a scandal that’s decisively shown how corrupt it is? The church’s credibility is at an all time low with the public and the Catholic laity themselves.

    So, what gives? I’m truly baffled.

  8. #8 Gregory Greenwood
    April 24, 2010

    Most of the senior politiocians in the UK are all too quick to crawl on their bellies to Pope Palpatine in order to curry favour. Perhaps they are worried about Catholic votes in the forthcoming election? Whatever the reason, it is utterly risible that so few public figures in Britain have the spinal fortitude to stand up to the evil old tyrant. I say this as a thoroughly disgusted Brit. The Pope is not deserving of any expression of respect, let alone deference. If he was not protected by his undeserved diplomatic status, then he should by rights be on trial for his years of facilitation of child abuse.

    At the very least he should be publicly excoriated by the leaders of all three political parties as soon as he steps off the plane for his church’s involvement in the child abuse scandal and for its immeasureably harmful stance on contraception and abortion along with its track record of misogyny and homophobia.

    Instead it will all be simpering smiles and public parades. It will be a sad day for both British rationalism and justice.

  9. #9 NewEnglandBob
    April 24, 2010

    Fry him or fricassee his pompous ass to jail for his crimes.

  10. #10 Rey Fox
    April 24, 2010

    “So making fun of child molesters gets you the same punishment they got?”

    Oh SNAP. FTW!

  11. #11 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 24, 2010

    Gregory – that’s another thing I don’t get. England is the Original Anti-Catholic Country (Henry VIII and all that). It just gets more baffling still.

  12. #12 Pygmy Loris
    April 24, 2010

    Just what is this peculiar power it holds over public officials? Especially when it’s in the middle of a scandal that’s decisively shown how corrupt it is? The church’s credibility is at an all time low with the public and the Catholic laity themselves.

    I don’t know how much of the Catholic laity is angry with Pope Palpatine. I have two friends who are in adult confirmation classes now. When I pointed out that they’re going through a lot of hassle to join an organization that protects child molesters they say that they love the church despite its flaws, and will continue to listen to the pontificating old men in their silly dresses.

  13. #13 chgo_liz
    April 24, 2010

    I would feel like I’d just died and gone to heaven if Christopher Hitchens and the Pope ever had a one-on-one. Or Hitch and Fry had a two-on-one.

    I really really really want to comment, but it’s not fair…Josh the official spokes-gay gets first dibs. Darn it.

  14. #14 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 24, 2010

    Josh the official spokes-gay gets first dibs. Darn it.

    I cede my privilege to the gentlewoman from Chicago (now make it funny:) .

  15. #15 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 24, 2010

    I cede my privilege to the gentlewoman from Chicago (now make it funny:) .

    If their from Chicago, they aren’t gentle.

    *hands Chgo_liz the official Pharyngula spanking paddle, with Patricia nodding…*

  16. #16 askegg.myopenid.com
    April 24, 2010

    #4: What’s the pope done to deserve respect?

    Did you even read the article?

    I find nothing on that list even remotely appalling, disrespectful, outlandish, or outrageous. The Catholic Church’s backwards policies have disastrous effects on people all over the world. The persecution of homosexuals, the spread of AIDS, the systematic cover up of child rapists and sodomites, the condemnation of unfortunately necessary abortions, etc. The list is as long as the church’s terrible rein.

  17. #17 askegg.myopenid.com
    April 24, 2010

    Dammit. I should have read #4’s comment more closely. In my defence, it’s early here.

  18. #18 Janice in Toronto
    April 24, 2010

    Was there something on the list that was unreasonable?

    C’mon your Popeship, make some changes and loosen up a little, eh?

  19. #19 QuarkyGideon
    April 24, 2010

    Do poloticians really have their heads rammed up their asses as often as a catholic priest has his cock up a 10 year old?

    Now that’s fucking insulting.

  20. #20 cag
    April 24, 2010

    I would say “fuck the pope”, but I suspect that that has already been done by some of his homeboys.

  21. #21 Ströh
    April 24, 2010

    Personally I found the list hilarious because of the pseudo-realism in it. Classic Brit humour.

    “Launch of Benedict condoms”. Pure genius.

    Or “Apologize for… …” Insert your Vatican atrocity of choice!

    Of course I would still just love to see all of these (and more) realized. Fat chance on that one.

  22. #22 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 24, 2010

    I love how his popeness sets himself up to be disrespected and then his underlings whine about how it’s happening.

    Perhaps if, as Chief Inquisitor, his popeness hadn’t supported and protected child rapists then people wouldn’t make rude comments about his support and protection. Maybe if he didn’t tell lies about condoms and AIDS then people wouldn’t point out his lies. Perchance if he kept his homophobia better hidden then he wouldn’t be accused of being a homophobe.

    Just sayin’.

  23. #23 Ströh
    April 24, 2010

    #22

    Reality’s such a bitch sometimes, isn’t it?

    Then again, I guess the Pope and reality are at best only briefly acquainted.

  24. #24 AnneH
    April 24, 2010

    Josh @7 & 11,
    Yeah, I’m ex-Catholic, and I don’t get it either. England actively persecuted, and discriminated against, Catholics for centuries. When did that change? Was it when they made peace with the Irish Catholic activist organizations, Sinn Fien, and the IRA? I remember IRA bombings in London, and a bit of googling as I type reveals that the IRA bombed English cities in 1992, 1993, and 1996!

    So what caused this major change in attitude? The English viewed Catholics as terrorist sympathizers less than 20 years ago.

    /baffled

    speculation: The increase of Moslem and other non-Christian immigration into England. Perhaps Catholics are now seen as less threatening than Islam.

  25. #25 Cuttlefish, OM
    April 24, 2010

    “Your Holiness, a moment please–we’ve made a couple changes
    To the schedule you will follow while you’re visiting this week.
    It’s really nothing, mostly–it just sort of rearranges
    All the visits, cos a group or two would like to hear you speak.”

    “There’s a group of rape survivors; there’s a dozen men with AIDS;
    There’s two priests–a married couple–who are looking for your blessing
    There’s an epidemiologist, who says his courage fades
    When he sees you’re banning condoms when he knows the need is pressing”

    “There’s an hour with some “Hitchens” and another with some “Fry”
    And between the two, expect to feel a modicum of shame
    And then lastly, there’s this “Jesus” bloke, who wants to ask you why,
    You are doing all this stupid shit, and say it’s in his name”

    http://digitalcuttlefish.blogspot.com/2010/04/changing-popes-itinerary.html

  26. #26 Kamaka
    April 24, 2010

    One of the wisecracks I like to tell teenagers is “There goes living proof, that if you make a face long enough, it sticks.”

    His poopiness has been so odious for so long, it IS his face.

    Deference, respect? The poopy is undeserving of common courtesy.

    Excuse me while I go puke.

  27. #27 Coleslaw
    April 24, 2010

    I kind of took it as a list of things the pope is not likely to do, i.e, he is about as likely to take a harder line on child abuse?announce sacking of dodgy bishops as he is to open an abortion ward or to announce a whistle blowing system for child abuse cases as he is to launch ‘Benedict’ condoms. So the person who criticized this list as disrespectful of the pope is playing right into the list author’s hands. You might just as well expect the pope to sell condoms or okay abortion as expect him to do anything truly useful about child abuse in the church.

  28. #28 Gregory Greenwood
    April 24, 2010

    Josh, Official SpokesGay @ 11;

    Gregory – that’s another thing I don’t get. England is the Original Anti-Catholic Country (Henry VIII and all that). It just gets more baffling still.

    Back in the days when England was a country going through a series of horrible religious wars and periodically gyrating wildly between extreme Protestantism and Royally imposed Catholicism depending who was on the throne that month (basically Henry XVIII’s creation of the Church of England through the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution right up until the end of the 18th Century) a lot of anti-Catholic sentiment was generated.

    Since the unit of nationality switched from England to the United Kingdom of Great Britain via the Acts of Union, this singular religious position has progressively been eroded. Today it is largely a thing of the past, but for a few anarchronisms like the tradition that no member of the Royal Family potentially in line to the throne may marry a Catholic.

    While the modern UK has a reputation for being less overtly religious than, say, America there is still a strange cultural imperitive to be respectful to religious organisations, and for some reason the Catholic Church in particular is not supposed to be unduely mocked or called to account. It is seen as ‘not cricket’, not the done thing, to go after the Church too enthusiastically if you are a public figure.

    You are right. ‘Tis an odd phenomenon to be sure.

  29. #29 DaveWTC
    April 24, 2010

    Of course the guy’s in trouble, he called the sack-of-shit on every one of his crimes against decency. Too close to home – way too close.

  30. #30 fragglet
    April 24, 2010

    If the Pope wants to stop people using condoms, issuing condoms with his face on may be exactly the right thing to do.

  31. #31 Roameo
    April 24, 2010

    Bahahah. Cuttlefish FTW

  32. #32 llewelly
    April 24, 2010

    I hope the torygraph reporter was paid by the pope – he certainly worked hard enough for that awful old man.

  33. #33 Urmensch
    April 24, 2010
  34. #34 basal-surge
    April 24, 2010

    [Stalin]
    How many divisions has the Pope?
    [\Stalin]

  35. #35 Ing
    April 24, 2010

    The Vatican is a diplomatic strategic ally to most countries. Since it has diplomatic ties to many it’s used as a link between countries that don’t have ties to each other to negotiate. At least that’s what they taught in Catholic School.

  36. #36 ambook
    April 24, 2010

    I don’t get it. Why is there so much servile deference to the pope, even among people who aren’t Catholic? The Vatican doesn’t have an army; it’s no military threat to anyone. Is the Vatican some sort of lynchpin in the international economy in a way I’m not aware of?

    We’re scared that the fashion sense of the Pope and the Swiss Guard might be contagious. Or that idiocy in general might be contagious. Oh wait, it probably is…

    The “Catholics are victims” thing is getting really irritating. I once had an unbelievably smarmy priest explain that the whole sex abuse scandal was concocted by psychologists and lawyers. Naturally he did this while standing so close to me as to violate my personal space. I didn’t tell the poor fool that I’m a psychologist and a lawyer and had worked with sexually abused children…

  37. #37 Crudely Wrott
    April 24, 2010

    The Pooper can’t do any of those things simply because they are rational and constructive. He couldn’t possibly approve of them because they are a product of human experience and wisdom. To sanction any of these ideas would be to glorify humanity at the expense of that big whatchamacallit in the sky that he claims to speak for.

    Unspeakably wrong. Speakably evil.

  38. #38 Fil
    April 24, 2010

    Well, the person who came up with the list may have been disciplined and transferred, but at least the list went viral and is all over the news worldwide.

    To the poor English who have to put up with yet more unwanted visitors in skirts (after all those pesky Scots too) well, let the Poop come, then kick up a storm of protest when he shows up and piss on his parade (literally if you want to).

  39. #39 Crudely Wrott
    April 24, 2010

    Hmm. Two Poops in a row. Perhaps there is something going on.

    Who else has the sense that something deeply ingrained in civilization is about to undergo a face lift? There seems to be a tremble in the farce and I can’t accept that I am alone in sensing it.

  40. #40 Teshi
    April 24, 2010

    I’m amazed that the Telegraph article makes NO mention of the fact that it was joke. They hint at it by saying “error of judgement” but they don’t actually say that it was a joke.

    The Church seems to not realise it at all.

    “The exercise appears to have been intended to ensure a high impact for the papal visit and to identify areas such as development and climate change on which the Government and the Vatican could co-operate, but the list of ideas has caused offence.”

    Really? No shit!

    I get that the person responsible was chastised blah-de-blah, but to not actually really understand the basis of this memo– or even mention that these are things for which the Pope is, by even British standards, failing upon, is really shoddy in terms of government and media understanding.

  41. #41 Fil
    April 24, 2010

    @ Crudely Wrott

    Well, I have been trying lately to spread the meme of, instead of taking a dump, taking a Pope.

    So, yeah, some shit is going down alright.

  42. #42 Crudely Wrott
    April 24, 2010

    @Fil
    Good on ya.

  43. #43 Crudely Wrott
    April 24, 2010

    That is, good on ya for a nice move, man(t).

    I know, poor pun. Only two thirds of a pun; pee euww.

    The meme that seems to be spreading itself is that a clerical collar is no more a badge of honor than is a notch on a pistol. Having the talent to restrain and belittle people in the course of ostensibly imparting eternal wisdom was once allegedly impressive. Today, not so much.

    The Church will tear itself apart despite the earnest effort of the faithful. Like the idea of the aether it has only appeal, no evidence. Experience leads us farther on and further up. Just what the Church promises but fails to deliver. Tough luck for them.

  44. #44 chgo_liz
    April 25, 2010

    Josh, Nerd (and Patricia)….

    This is so embarrassing. It’s never happened to me before. I’ve always been able to give pleasure on demand, but your high expectations have put so much pressure on me. I’ve choked. I quail before my superiors!

    *hangs head in shame*

    Weird to think that Hitchens is the odd man out in that trio. How perverse: he’s the only one who’s legally allowed to marry the person he has sex with.

  45. #45 SlantedScience
    April 25, 2010

    In so far as I understand it, the pope is regarded as head of a “sovereign nation”, which means he has as many international rights as POTUS.

    There is no greater imperative to separating religion and politics on a worldwide scale than the fact that a man who believes that child abuse is a minor indiscretion is given the key to a country, and the millions of dollars’ security costs so associated.

    This guy is responsible for the long, slow deaths of hundreds of thousands in Africa and South America. Yet, somehow, he is re-characterized as a sensible and worthy leader of a nation.

    I hope that British anti-Catholics are able to disrupt this frocked-fraud’s little vacation.

  46. #46 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 25, 2010

    @chgo_liz:

    I’ve always been able to give pleasure on demand,

    Oh! So you’re my private dancer! A dancer for money, do what I want you to do, and any old music will do. Been wracking my brain to figure that one out. . .

  47. #47 theblogcobbler
    April 25, 2010

    The problem here is that they are treating the Pope like he actually is the head of a state. I mean, I know he is viewed as such, but he is just the head man of a tremendous and widely accepted cult of lunatics.

    Even more strange, a lot of Brits know this and accept it.

    Quit with the placation and mollycoddling, people.

  48. #48 Josh, Official SpokesGay
    April 25, 2010

    How perverse: he’s the only one who’s legally allowed to marry the person he has sex with.

    Now that was clever.

  49. #49 jcmartz.myopenid.com
    April 25, 2010

    Despite claiming to have God on his side, the pope does not have the guts to actually debate any of the aforementioned topics.

  50. #50 Bride of Shrek OM
    April 25, 2010

    That little drawing of the pope looks just like George W Bush. Specially with the chimp like ears and all ( with sincere apologies to chimps everywhere for the disrespectful analogy)

  51. #51 saurian55
    April 25, 2010
  52. #52 John Morales
    April 25, 2010

    That little drawing of the pope looks just like George W Bush.

    Ah, so it’s doing him a favour.
    That should be fixed.

    (source)

  53. #53 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawl3TpOVyxxwCT5cVU3M80c_cpxoMBZmiOQ
    April 25, 2010

    I can tell you why they are upset: The catholics don’t like to be reminded of the abhorrent and outdated stances the church takes on so many issues. It is this giant exercise of doublethink. Of course they all hate women and gays, but to actually spell it out is thoughtcrime.

  54. #54 MadScientist
    April 25, 2010

    They were offended by THAT? Fuck, when did the UK become an Islamic nation?

  55. #55 MadScientist
    April 25, 2010

    @josh #11: If you believe the bible (hahaha), Rome was the original anti-christian (and later anti-catholic) state. The mohammedan caliphates also predated Henry #8.

  56. #56 Fil
    April 25, 2010

    Has anyone heard if there will be any demonstrations during the Poop’s visit to the UK?

    I mean, it could be a public relations nightmare for His Oiliness if there were significant numbers of well behaved citizens waving eye-catching signs, like emaciated AIDS victims in Africa etc.

    Sadly, I doubt in the present climate if he would risk a motorcade in the Poop-Mobile (aka the Holy Porta-Potty).

  57. #57 CS
    April 25, 2010

    Check the comments on the “Sick Attack on the Pope” piece by Damian Thompson
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100036316/the-foreign-offices-sick-attack-on-the-pope-what-did-you-expect/

  58. #58 Arwen
    April 25, 2010

    That debate a few months back about “Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?” seems a bit quaint now.

    Hitch & Fry v Pope – we can only dream :)

  59. #59 Screechy_Monkey
    April 25, 2010

    Best idea yet would be a debate . . .?with the Pope on one side, and Stephen Fry on the other. It could be perfectly respectful, and it would be hilarious.

    Alternatively, if we just want to see the Pope flensed and the wounds rubbed with salt and sulfur, they could bring in Christopher Hitchens as the opponent

    Don’t kid yourself, PZ. Stephen Fry would roast Ratzinger just as harshly as the Hitch.

    But no need to choose. I hereby pledge to donate $1000 to a charity for the benefit of abused children if the Pope will agree to debate either of them. Anyone care to join me? I think the very idea of the Pope having to defend anything would be progress.

  60. #60 Andreas Johansson
    April 25, 2010

    To the surprise of no-one, the press today reports that the Swedich branch of the RCC has been covering up sexual abuse too:

    http://www.thelocal.se/26270/20100425/

    (The link’s in English.)

  61. #61 DMB
    April 25, 2010

    The Government didn’t consult the people of the UK before inviting this head of a rancid pseudo-state to make a “State visit”. I think there will be demos.

    This document was clearly a mere internal sniggerfest not intended for circulation. I can’t believe the pompous overreactions!

  62. #62 Barry Pearson
    April 25, 2010

    #24 (AnneH): “I remember IRA bombings in London, and a bit of googling as I type reveals that the IRA bombed English cities in 1992, 1993, and 1996!”

    This biggest was 1974. (Birmingham). I mention this because I was a few hundred yards away at the time. I have never overcome the thought “what if …?”

    (And the 1996 bomb destroyed offices of a company I worked for, causing me to be relocated).

  63. #63 "Roger"
    April 25, 2010

    Well, I posted that information to one of Canada’s own “Bill Donohue’s” blog entries. We’ll see how far it goes.

  64. #64 jack.rawlinson
    April 25, 2010

    There Will Be Protests.

  65. #65 Laura
    April 25, 2010

    #24 (AnneH) – you’re mistakenly equating ‘catholic’ with ‘irish’. The IRA weren’t necessarily fighting a religious battle; it was national. They bombed England because England occupies and controls Northern Ireland.
    Sadly, there’s a current resurgence of these republican bombings in Northern Ireland, one of which was only a mile from my home two weeks ago. Sad times.

  66. #66 vanharris
    April 25, 2010

    “Launch of Benedict condoms” – Nahhhh.

    Who’d use them? They’d be holy.

  67. #67 cfmilner
    April 25, 2010

    I know it’s been said before but damn I’d pay to see Stephen Fry debate ol’ Palpatine.

    I could listen to Stephen talk about anything under the sun but to see him wipe the floor with his poopy-headedness …

    Oh, I’ve come over all unnecessary!

    ~ Vicars Daughter ~

  68. #68 cylusys
    April 25, 2010

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the Catholic church cause a load of fuss when the human fertilisation and embryology bill was in discussion? I recall that G Brown browned his trousers and stopped it being a whipped vote due to the ‘pressure’ from Catholic’s. The majority of the bill still passed however.

    It later transpired that the Catholic Church’s position had been strengthened by the temporary numbers of eastern Europeans (who may not in fact have supported the church’s stance, but when does it actually ask its members for direction?) in the UK, many who have now returned to the mainland. Perhaps the government still believes them to be a significant force at the voting booth, hence all the crawling.

  69. #69 agenoria
    April 25, 2010

    Pity the Pope’s not visiting the UK in November. He could visit Lewes in East Sussex on the 5th and really be offended. One of the Bonfire Societies has a tradition of burning an effigy of Pope Paul V (and current politicians…): Cliffe Bonfire Society, 5th November 2009.

    On the other hand I am concerned about the implications of this: Atheist given Asbo for leaflets mocking Jesus.

    I haven’t seen the original leaflet, but apparently it’s OK to distribute religious leaflets, but not anything questioning them. And I’m fed up with the racket in our city centre some Saturdays with people shouting about the bible and the cacophony from hare krishna’s drums as they parade past the shops.

  70. #70 Moggie
    April 25, 2010

    Just about all of us will have experienced office email being used to circulate jokes, particularly by junior staff who haven’t yet learned the risks of putting things in writing. Yet look at the ways the article describes the list in question: official documents, Government document, proposals, secret papers, memo. Email is only mentioned once, halfway through the article. If the article had opened with “An irreverent email sent by a junior civil servant…”, its impact would have been different.

    But of course Catholics are upset. It’s what Christians do. They’re never happier than when they can cry “persecution!”

    #24:

    Yeah, I’m ex-Catholic, and I don’t get it either. England actively persecuted, and discriminated against, Catholics for centuries. When did that change? Was it when they made peace with the Irish Catholic activist organizations, Sinn Fien, and the IRA? I remember IRA bombings in London, and a bit of googling as I type reveals that the IRA bombed English cities in 1992, 1993, and 1996!

    So what caused this major change in attitude? The English viewed Catholics as terrorist sympathizers less than 20 years ago.

    No we didn’t, not in general. Here in England, people certainly understood that religious sectarianism was involved in the Troubles, but if you’d given the average English person a list of Northern Irish paramilitary organisations and asked them which were Catholic and which Protestant, I would guess that a significant proportion of people wouldn’t score too highly. And although there was a lot of anti-Irish sentiment because of the bombings, in my experience it didn’t translate to much anti-Catholic prejudice: someone might distrust their Irish Protestant neighbour, but wouldn’t give a second thought to the nice English Catholic family next door.

  71. #71 Q.E.D
    April 25, 2010

    ?It?s outlandish and outrageous to assume that any of the ideas are in any way suitable for the Pope.?

    Yeah, a light-hearted proposal to actually engage Vatican dogma and debate its merits – “outrageous”, “unsuitable”.

    Remember the list contained this suggestion that Pope Palpatine “sack dodgy bishops” – “outrageous”, “unsuitable”

    Any reaction other than servile, unthinking deference and obedience – “outrageous”, “unsuitable”

    I will definitely protesting Ratzinger’s visit to London. Wonder if the “outrageous”, “unsuitable” T-Shirt I intend to wear will get me arrested

  72. #72 Stuart
    April 25, 2010

    This was an anonymous civil servant rather than the ‘government’… I don’t think we actually have a government as such at the moment, as we’re in the run up to an election.

    It’s not particularly funny, just a bit of harmless office banter which we all do.

  73. #73 Teshi
    April 25, 2010

    The BBC article is better. They used a lot of the same language as the Telegraph but made it clear that this list came out of a “blue skies” (lawl) think tank comprised of four junior civil servants. So basically, four young guys got together to think up unusual things for the Pope to do (lawl).

    The BBC actually uses the word ‘joke’!

    I think in the future, this memo will be regarded as a brave bit of comedic commentary. I can’t help hoping that although the government is officially scrambling and bowing deferentially, the reason it got so far through the government before being leaked is because people liked it and passed it on.

  74. #74 Pierce R. Butler
    April 25, 2010

    Did the Vatican ever rescind the declaration of Crusade against England that officially authorized the mission of the Spanish Armada?

    If not, aren’t the Brits legally entitled to capture B-16 and hold him as a POW until formal cessation of hostilities?

  75. #75 BiblicalAtheist
    April 25, 2010

    ?If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.? Leviticus 20:13

    My question for the Christians is that since stoning is not specifically mentioned, is it OK to burn priests who have ?lain with mankind? at the stake or nail them to a cross? I am at a loss as to how to begin the smiting process.

  76. #76 blf
    April 25, 2010

    The BBC actually uses the word ‘joke’!

    So does The Grauniad, in the first paragraph:

    An internal Foreign Office memo about this September’s papal visit to Britain which started as a Friday afternoon joke, today has resulted in a formal government apology to the Vatican.

    Later on, they get snarky:

    The ludicrous nature of the suggestions did not prevent some within the Catholic church reacting to what they claimed was a disrespectful slur, demanding apologies that many senior Vatican officials have in recent weeks declined to offer children abused in church care.

    And a bit later, survey the stoopidity farted by the sheeple:

    Commenters on the [Daily Torygraph’s] site demanded the official should be sacked and called for criminal charges against “atheist scumbags”. One, londiniensis, wrote: “Once Oxbridge scrapped its Latin entrance paper and oiks began to be actively encouraged to apply, this sort of degeneration was almost bound to happen.”

    An entrance exam in Latin would prevent a joke? Geesh…

    Some apologists are trying to sound reasonable:

    It was left to Jack Valero, a spokesman for the organisation Catholic Voices, to add a note of moderation: “I think it is a joke that has gone wrong ? light relief out of control. I think Catholics will just take it like this ? they’ll think about it today and then forget about it. In the Catholic church we are used to forgiveness ? it’s part of our culture.”

    Uh-huh. Yep. Sure. Liar.

  77. #77 blf
    April 25, 2010

    Among many, many, many others.

    Such as the catholics, who actually did rape children, and then covered it up, and when it was found out, lied and/or moved the perverts on to a new position where the cycle would start again. The catholics’s actions are not a play, story, or other fiction, but real and repeated crimes.

  78. #78 blf
    April 25, 2010

    Eh? Hang-on, where did the comment I was responding to in @77 go? Sorry, guess I got my threads mixed up…

    (It was in response to some inanity from what I presume is a drive-by troll babbling about numerous fictional cases of child rape, implying (albeit not stating) that that the various authors must, for some reason, apologise, and that if they didn’t, then there is no reason for the catholics to do anything.)

  79. #79 PZ Myers
    April 25, 2010

    Piltdown Man made another brief reappearance, only to be promptly whisked off stage, hog-tied, thrown in the trunk of a 1975 Cadillac, driven to a remote, swampy spot in the Pine Barrens, and cruelly bit quickly eradicated.

  80. #80 'Tis Himself, OM
    April 25, 2010

    PZ has a ’75 Caddy? Is it a light blue El Dorado convertible like this one? That’s a real class car, not like the stodgy black limousine.

  81. #81 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    April 25, 2010

    PZ, that sounds like something from a Janet Evanovich novel…

  82. #82 Knockgoats
    April 25, 2010

    Has anyone heard if there will be any demonstrations during the Poop’s visit to the UK? – Fil@56

    Yes, there will.

  83. #83 SteveV
    April 25, 2010

    Ohhh pleeeze pleeezzze let it be true!

  84. #84 Sili, The Unknown Virgin
    April 25, 2010

    Wait. He was invited? I thought he’d just sorta announced his arrival and Labour’d just rolled over and obeyed. Fuck.

    Who’s the wag behind it? I’d love to see him gain fame.

  85. #85 Bendigeidfran
    April 25, 2010

    I’d love him to come here. I hope he gets the ‘welcome’ he deserves. Who knows though? – don’t forget we’ve got millions of dull fuckers here too as evidenced when Diana and the Queen Mum snuffed it etc.

  86. #86 irenedelse
    April 25, 2010

    “It’s outlandish and outrageous to assume that any of the ideas are suitable for the Pope.”

    WTF? The “good” bishop can’t have actually read that list to make such an utterance. The bits about meeting young unemployed people, debating equality and democracy or visiting an AIDS clinic are not in any way disrespectful. In fact, it’s closer to the evangelical message of Jesus Christ than a high mass with gold vessels and VIPs in attendance!

    And the proposal to debate about abortion, gay rights, etc., can only be thought outrageous if the Vatican refuses even to have to defend their ideas!

    Oh, wait, of course: in doing so, they would effectively aknowledge that they don’t really have a monopoly on Truth…

  87. #87 Fil
    April 25, 2010

    @ Knockgoats #82 and others…

    Thanks for the info and the link. Here’s hoping that the Poopal visit to the UK will not pass without him and the church being held to some form of account.

    Though, as part II of this thread implies, Ratz may use the present list controversy to just chicken out.

  88. #88 Kliwon
    April 26, 2010

    #24

    Yeah, I’m ex-Catholic, and I don’t get it either. England actively persecuted, and discriminated against, Catholics for centuries. When did that change?

    I believe it was 1834 when the Duke of Wellington threatened to resign as prime minister if the king didn’t sign a law rescinding the anti-catholic laws.

  89. #89 https://me.yahoo.com/a/AqS.7HQz15BXGXkfLkSi0aIslzuz0.tI#54c62
    April 26, 2010

    It bothers my mind,why do so many pple rise against the pope? Is he the auther of christianity?(or catholicism)if he gives in to selfish demand of west,then that will be the end of church.The pope does not force anybody to follow him. Only individual decision.cmd judging from the numbers its clear his teachings are valid

  90. #90 SEF
    April 26, 2010

    judging from the numbers its clear his teachings are valid

    The main logical fallacy in your feeble argument is: Argumentum ad populum (viz. assuming something is true just because a lot of people believe it is).

    Then there are your factual errors, eg over the use of force (of various kinds) and the ongoing authorship of the details of the specific RCC delusions …

  91. #91 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnb-E55g7vrnvH-3L1M6d7QuDYWoM_IDEM
    April 26, 2010

    …if we just want to see the Pope flensed and the wounds rubbed with salt and sulfur, they could bring in Christopher Hitchens…

    I have not had such a giggle for ages!
    The succinct phrase exactly capture and then distilled my innermost thoughts.
    Thanks, PZ!

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