2010s >> 2011 >> no-1278-february-2011


Papal Bull

Dear Editors

I was disappointed that the article in response to the Pope’s visit (‘Against Religion’, Socialist Standard, November ) failed to address the reasons why his attack on secularism and atheism was objectionable. The article was introduced as a reply to the Pope’s assault, but it really consisted of a generic dismissal of Christianity.

The arguments put forward are not solid or up-to-date. The Vatican has never presented the bible as its main evidence for the existence of God, and does not hold that it contains infallible history or geology – there are no “Biblical accounts of the Earth’s age”.

You write that the bible is full of contradictions, which isn’t criticism. The bible is a compendium of books written over 1600 years by dozens of different authors in a similar number of styles and genres – no-one claims it is (or could be) consistent.

The article makes fair points, but like a lot of attacks on Christianity it beats the Church over the head with a stick it didn’t make – typically refuting claims that no-one is making and calling non-existent dogmas nonsense.

I would have rather seen the Pope’s mantra of blaming relativism turned on his own subculture. The Catholic Church twists and adapts its form and content to suit the age and defend its power – the Vatican was only mildly embarrassed when one of its priests became dictator of Slovakia, but at least in the 1930s the Church was openly Fascist.

We can easily dismiss the Pope and his visit in 2010 as irrelevant. We can do the same for the Royal Wedding this year. But the fact remains that thousands of people will be engaged by these events and by the messages they give out. A critical socialist response needs to be incisive and to the point – generic and dismissive doesn’t cut it.

Eddie Jarvis (by email)

You are correct. The article was a criticism of christianity generally and not of the dogmas of the Roman Catholic church in particular or of the arrogant, superstitious (he believes in miracles) and deluded (he thinks he’s gods representative on Earth) man who heads it. His particular sect might not place much store in the stories of the bible but lots of other christian sects do. They think the bible is literally true and also that it is consistent – as you would have thought would those who think its authors were inspired by god when they wrote it.  –  Editors

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