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Church Dialogue: An offer we can (and should) refuse

NOT the Pope (But definitely better dressed)

NOT the Pope (But definitely better dressed)

Most of you already know I’m a stickler for being (painfully) blunt, so I’ll get right to the point. A few days ago, I stumbled upon a press release from the Vatican announcing an initiative aimed at opening dialogue with atheist and agnostics.

“Firstly, it is to create a network of agnostic or atheistic people who accept dialogue and enter as members into the foundation and, as such, into our dicastery,” stated Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture (PCC), the group in charge of the foundation.

It sounds like a noble gesture, the church wanting to sit down and talk with nonbelievers.

It is also a hollow gesture, in light of the fact that time and time again, the Vatican has attacked various issues we non-theists hold dear in one way or another. If you (the Vatican) are serious about opening dialogue with non-theists, then you’re going to have to explain your actions regarding several prior issues:

What are you planning to do about Bishop Nelson Williamson? Early last year, Pope Ratzinger lifted the Vatican’s excommunication on Bishop Williamson (along with four other bishops), despite the fact that Williamson has continually denied Nazi Germany’s hand in the deaths of close to six million Jews?

Williamson himself stated this same view during an interview on Swedish television, broadcast on the same day that Ratzinger lifted his excommunication.

Speaking of excommunications, you know what else stinks? The fact that only a few months after this, you excommunicated the medical team that performed an emergency abortion on a nine-year-old girl in Brazil. Never mind the fact that this surgery saved her life – you were too caught up spouting your rhetoric on protecting the life of the unborn. What about the child? Doesn’t she matter?

Not only did you excommunicate her mother for allowing the doctors to perform the surgery (and the child too, had she been of proper legal age), but you said nothing about excommunicating the sick bastard of a father who had repeatedly raped her. What do you plan to do with him? Absorb him into your ranks?

Actually, that’s par for the course for your ilk, given the recent reports documenting your priest’s sexual molestation cases against the young in Germany, Britain, and Ireland. Not only did you fail to penalize your clergy, you transferred them to different parishes to prevent their prosecution by local authorities, while resorting to delaying tactics to keep the victims silent for decades.

And when one of your own decided to speak up against you, you silenced him too. Whatever happened to “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor?”

And since we’re on the topic of making babies, let’s talk about your stance on reproductive health. You have repeatedly crossed the line in the country I live in, threatening any politician who supported House Bill 5043 with excommunication. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?

And whatever happened to common sense as well, given your claim that any form of contraception is automatically a form of abortion, and your insistence that natural family planning is the only proper form of birth control? Never mind that government health departments and accredited health organizations have already confirmed that NFP-only policies result in failure.

What is your issue with women having a choice in the matter and deciding not to have a baby before they’re ready? Actually scratch that – what is your issue with anybody who doesn’t fit your concept of masculinity?

Two years ago, Pope Ratzinger declared that homosexuality was a threat bigger than the destruction of the rainforests. And just last year, he upped the ante by saying that they were an attack on creation. That’s just the tip of the iceberg – there are also the decades that you have actively discriminated against the gay community, treating it as if it were some social evil that must be eradicated (ironic given your own track record with children).

And finally, there is your blatant hostility against atheists and agnostics. Three years ago, your Pope went on public record to say that non-theists were responsible for some of the world’s greatest woes. His statement conveniently forgets your own hand in colorful incidents such as the Inquisition, the Crusades, the aforementioned sex abuse cases, and the fact that Hitler himself was Catholic, and was quite vocal in using his own brand of Catholicism to push the Nazi agenda.

Yes - logic kills!

Yes - logic kills!

In short, here is what I think: despite your misogynistic views, despite the way you have repeatedly demonized the community I belong to, you still think you have credibility claiming to enter genuine dialogue with us, or that it will eventually help “men and women who don’t believe but want to move towards God.”?

I’m sorry, but I see this offer as nothing more than a poorly done PR stunt – we don’t have any clear reason to trust that you’ll really listen to us. In fact I see this gesture as your attempt at becoming a media darling by “attempting” to open dialogue with us, and playing the martyr card when these talks fail. It’s tantamount to twisting the Italian Government’s arm to have comedian Sabina Guzzanti arrested for her statements against Papa Ratzi. When you realized no charges could be raised against her, you were quick to state that she was not arrested because you “forgave” her.

What a load of crock. What bullshit. It’s for this very reason that this is all I have to say to you regarding your offer (Warning: Explicit Language at the click!)…

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.