NO PLACE FOR BIGOTRY

  • 2008-01-09
  • Harry Gaffney
Dainis Klidzes certainly made his presence felt on behalf of Cardinal Pujats, but I found his final sentence "leave theology to the theologians" the most telling [refers to "Leave theology to the theologians," Letters, TBT #587, Dec. 20, 2007].

By the same token should we not leave politics to the politicians without interference from the Church? His eminence's aggressive lobbying of Saeima would-be ministers is surely not only unethical but illegal.
It's been tried before of course. England's first archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas a'Beckett, tried the patience of his monarch to such an extent that he paid the ultimate price 's ("who will rid me of this turbulent priest?") A similar fate befell Cardinal Wolsey when he got too close to Henry the Eighth.

Some years ago in Ireland the Primate held such sway that when he gave the thumbs down to a controversial bill designed to help mothers and children the bill was scrapped. It caused public outrage resulting in a general election which brought down the government of the day. However, the Catholic Church went into a spiral of decline from which it has never recovered. One cleric has since admitted "Ireland is now a post-Catholic country."
Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus mention homosexuals, so one has to assume that the contempt in which the cardinal holds this group emanates, and is perpetuated, from Rome, in which case his Eminence is simply doing his master's bidding.
But it's a dangerous game to play. Hitler sent his brownshirts onto the streets to persuade people that the Jews were evil, even though they were contributing hugely to the economy. As a result, those who had never even met a Jew began to hate them and took pleasure in their ensuing plight.

It's a fact of life that as countries grow in affluence citizens feel less need to attend church, and in time clergy find themselves preaching to a flock almost devoid of young people, as is the case in Britain and Ireland.
Religious bigotry and hatred has no place in a modern society where people are no longer cowed by a somber cleric in fancy-dress. He would do well to preserve his energy for the task with which he will inevitably be confronted, that of amalgamating the almost empty churches now inhabiting the countryside. And when moderate Catholics become exasperated with his meddling in state affairs he might well prepare a letter to his boss explaining why numbers of churchgoers are dropping.

Then maybe we will see history repeating itself as a once powerful figure slides into obscurity with the Nurembergesque wail: "I was only following orders!"

Harry Gaffney, Riga
 

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