Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Papal Protesters Plan Pitiful Parade

The Holy Father will be visiting UK, starting in Scotland, on Thursday. He'll then make his way down to London. The British media has been doing its darndest to present this trip as a terrible idea, giving a huge platform to any and everyone who has a beef against the papal visitation.

In this article I will attempt to show the reasons for the protests and demonstrate why they are senseless.

1) They want the Church to change its 2000-year-old belief system
This is perhaps the most perplexing goal of the protesters. They want the Vatican to change its stance on many of its doctrines. This is an absurd demand. Would these people demand that Muslims stop recognizing Muhammed as a prophet or protest the fact that Jews wear a yalmulke and perform circumcisions?

The Church has held these beliefs for millenia and they are not going to (and indeed cannot) change them for the will of a small group of people.

They want the church to ordain women, promote contraception, and teach that abortion is alright. The Church cannot "decide" to change her teachings on the sanctity of life anymore than it can decide to stop teaching that God is a trinity. I really find it quite funny when people ask for such things. Would anyone ask the Dalai Lama to stop believing in reincarnation simply because they didn't want to believe in it? It's absolutely absurd.

2) It's too expensive
The pope's trip to the UK will cost British tax payers about £20 million. Many of the protesters, which include secularists, atheists, and those against Church teaching, say this is far too much. However, I heard no such protest in the UK when the King of Saudi Arabia visited, even though his country does not allow freedom of religion and where women have few rights. Nor did I hear protests about money when the President of China, where human rights violations are commonplace, visited.

It seems its ok to spend a lot of money when the leaders of China and Saudi Arabia arrive, but spending money on the Pope is unacceptable.

3) The pope must address the sex abuse scandal!
I get where the protesters are coming from on this one. Here's a church where a lot of young boys were sexually assaulted by priests, and the pope has yet to make a single comment on it or create any laws against it! It's almost as though the pope doesn't care at all. In fact, some would say he's personally responsible. If only he could do "something".

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but the pope HAS done a lot. First of all, he's spoken on the sex abuse scandal dozens of times. He has referred to removing these abusive priests as "removing the filth" from the Church. In all its history, the Church has condemned sexual abuse, especially of minors. In this case, most abuse was of a homosexual nature between a teenage boy and a male priest.

In 1962, the Vatican published guidelines for exposing any priest who committed illegal acts of homosexuality, pedophilia, and zoophilia. Not reporting a priest who did these things could carry possible excommunication.

In 1983, the Vatican specifically mentioned sexual abuse of minors as a serious crime.

After that, year after year, the Vatican continuously denounced sexual assault of minors. The Church encourages people to work with law enforcement when such cases arise.

Sexual abuse sadly exists in all facets of society, most of the time at greater levels than are seen in the Catholic Church. For example, schools have been a veritable breeding ground of sexual assault. Basically any area where adults are caring for minors there will be sexual assault. I even read a report that showed that in New York City, sexual abuse of minors in schools was rampant and that only 1% of perpetrators were reported. The rest were either transferred to another school or kept on.

Despite all of this, there are no protests over teachers or schools. Nor are there protests against scout organizations, swim facilities, etc. It seems some people are very selective about who they will protest when it comes to sexual abuse.

Also, despite the Vatican and local churches doing a great deal, people keep harping on thoroughly unspecific demands, such as "more transparency", or "tougher guidelines", etc. However, no mention is ever made of any actual efforts by the Church. I think the reason for this is protestors are desperate to paint the Church in an entirely negative light, and they believe that by continually demanding seemingly very reasonable requests and then claiming the Church is doing nothing, they hope to gain public support. But why do they not protest any other group that is responsible for sexual abuse?

Those who are opposing the pope's visit typically have a grudge against organized religion or anyone who preaches moral standards. Also, the target of their protests are not Muslim or Jewish groups. Instead, they go after the easy target, the one that will not fight back. The Catholic Church is also the one that speaks the truth and has the most authoritative voice.

I wish I was among the enormous crowds of people welcoming the pontiff in Scotland in a few days from now.

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