The Holy Father visits the UK for only the second time in 400 years, Catholics in this country have been patiently paying taxes for years but from the reaction of some you'd think Kim Jong Il was being invited to take over the country and bankrupt the treasury with his oppulent demands whilst doing it.
It is a state visit by the spritual leader of a large percentage of the British population. Would people expect Nicola Sarkozy to pay for his own visit? No, that's not how it's done. Would their be outrage if the Dalai Lama was assigned some police resources for his security detail? Hardly. Why are the Catholics any different.
It just seems that instead of taking issue with the wrongs perpetrated by the church and bringing them to fore thus engaging with the problem (I admire the dignity and intelligence of peopl like Colm O'Gorman, a man who suffered terrible abuse but is strong enough to campaign against the wrongs in a measured, dignified, intelligent and effective way) people just want to tear the whole thing to shreds tarring everyone with that same brush...where does that leave ordinary rank and file Catholics. There is nowhere for us to go, it is just not as simple as "pick a side"....also where does that leave the thousands who have dedicated their entire lives to charitable works through the Catholic church? Priests and nuns who serve God and his people without ever straying from their devotion and duties yet are treated as somehow complicit or guilty by association.
The debate has to be subtler, less black and white than this surely. Given that those most opposed to the Church and this state visit are the supposed intelligentsia surely this isn't too much to ask. Do these people abuse every squaddie they see because of Abu Graib? Of course not.
It is almost compulsory to "forget" about the millions of millions of man hours of charitable work the Church does....or the millions of pounds it raises for various aid programs it pumps into needy places via things like CAFOD.
Nowhere is this better exemplified by the villification of Pope's comments about condoms in Africa. He simply said that condoms alone are not the answer to stopping the spread of AIDS.
The reaction from people was simply ludicrous. People pretending to be outraged purely as an excuse to insult The Pope. Bear in mind that Catholics make up a small percentage of the African population, also bear in mind that as well as "don't use condoms" the Church also preaches abstinance and fidelity as central to it's design for life. Why then is it just assumed that the condoms message is taken to heart by the entire population of Africa whilst the rest of the message is just ignored.
And why is it assumed that a continent with so many problems in feeding it's people has limitless reserves of condoms readily available in every village?
Given that we know that this isn't the case surely education, what the Pope advocated, is much more important.
I am not saying that condoms are evil...but that's not what the Pope said either....certain people just chose to hear that for an excuse to hurl some mud and say some rude words.
As I said earlier, am not saying everything under the Vatican flag is perfect and whiter than white...but give us a fair crack of the whip, engage rather than hurling abuse scattergun fashion...then againwe'll probably just turn the other cheek