>Pope’s visit should be questioned, but angry atheism achieves nothing

>The Pope starts his much discussed state visit to the UK today. He will be greeted by the Queen at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh before coming to England. The trip comes against the backdrop of continuing anger at allegations of child abuse within the Catholic church, and comments yesterday from a senior Cardinal that Britain is a ‘3rd world country’. 

The issue of pedophilia is important, and should never be allowed to be swept under the (red) carpet. The problem was widespread, widely known about, and covered up by the highest echelons of the Catholic church. The Pope is reported to have told reporters on his plane that the church has not been vigilant on pedophilia. Let us hope this will be followed up with a full investigation into the situation, and more importantly the implementation of measures to prevent it ever happening again.  

There are also serious questions to be asked of an institution that preaches family values yet demands celibacy, that does not condone the use of contraception in countries suffering from HIV/Aids epidemics, and that does not give equality to women. However, the disrespect shown to the Pope would not be tolerated towards any other religious leader, and nor should it be in multi-cultural, multi-faith Britain. The reaction to the Papal visit is based on an underlying anti-religous sentiment, with the issue of pedophile priests as the excuse to express these views. 

There is nothing wrong at all with being an atheist. It is as valid an opinion as those that follow Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or any other of the plethora of faiths around the world. The irony though is that it is people that frequently advocate religious freedom that seem to have got themselves most worked up over the Papal visit. Were those of a religious persuasion to openly display their feelings with the same fervour as those protesting against the Pope, they would be derided as Bible bashing lunatics. This angry atheism achieves nothings more than consolidating the more outdated elements within the Catholic church, and discrediting those that raise genuine issues about Catholicism or the place of religion in general.


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