Secular groups have reacted angrily today to the Pope’s criticisms of the new equality laws passing through Parliament, although this does seem rather ironic given the fact that the amendments to the laws affecting religious bodies have remained the same after being defeated once again in the Lords.
Although I accept that the Pope has a right to express a viewpoint, I do also find any pronouncements on sexual morality laughable given the Catholic Church’s track record of abuse and cover up; equally I meet any pronouncements on equality with a baffled shrug of the shoulders given that they are made by an establishment which excludes half of its members from its hierarchy on the basis of an accident of birth.
I do not have any remaining respect for institutionalised religion, at least not the hierarchies of the Roman Catholic and Anglican Church or for their figureheads. I do not think that this is because I am not a respectful person. Nothing, I believe, is more destructive to the message of the gospel than the deadening hand of religiosity. The Pope’s comments brought to my mind William Blake’s vivid depiction of the ultimate effects of what he contemptuously termed “priestcraft”,
And at length they pronounc'd that the Gods had order'd such things.
Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.
(From Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, written in 1790, still relevant in 2010)