I see that the Free Pees are sending a large delegation to Scotland to protest at the visit by the Pope. Any comments they have made have concentrated on the scandals facing the Catholic Church, but I suspect that their real reason is that they think that Pope Benedict is the Antichrist.
(I don’t know why certain types of Protestant take such delight in the Book of Revelation, it being so baroque and fantastical while their idea of virtue seems to be dullness and uniformity.)
I don’t have any religious beliefs, so I don’t think of the Pope as the Antichrist. I consider him the head of a large organisation that turns ignorance into wealth and power (far more effectively than, say, the Daily Mail). This organisation uses its position to oppose equality and human rights. Irritating as it is to be on the same side of the barriers as Ian Paisley, I do also object to Pope Benedict making a “state visit” to the UK (at our expense).
Although even the people I would generally agree with — atheists, secularists, feminists, leftists, and other miscellaneous -ists — are making much of the child abuse scandals as they campaign or protest at the Pope’s visit. Maybe too much. I’m not denying the incontrovertible fact that Catholic priests all over the world have raped children, largely with impunity. That’s horrifying, but it’s a symptom of the Church’s unjustified, unaccountable power.
The vast majority of priests do not rape children, just as the vast majority of non-priests do not. There’s no evidence yet that the proportion of abusers is any different than in the general population either, (even though priests are selected to be sexually abnormal). The real issue is whether society should allow the organsiation to apply its own remedy (move to another parish; rinse; repeat) or apply the same civil laws that apply to everyone else. Well, I think the answer to that is obvious.
But when Belgian police recently confiscated the documents from a Church investigation into abuse, Pope Benedict was outraged. Not outraged by the abuse, you understand, but by the civil power over-riding his authority. The official Vatican response was to compare Belgium to a “totalitarian state”. For daring to investigate crimes against children.
The orginal argument for the Church being above secular law was based on the document known as the “Donation of Constantine”, in which the Emperor Constantine handed over control of the Roman Empire to the Pope. But that was a crude medieval forgery. If the Pope still thinks that his authority exceeds our civil laws, then he is not a suitable person to invite on an official visit.