I have been giving some thought to the Pope’s pronouncements while he was in the UK.
First of all, he and his aides have been banging on about “the new and aggressive atheism” in Britain, how us atheists want to abolish Christmas and how we’re forcing the religious to keep quiet to stop them ‘causing offense’.
I assume by “aggressive atheism” he refers to the fact that folks like Richard Dawkins are prepared to say publicly why they are atheists. I have fisked this attitude previously and won’t repeat that post here. The abolishing Christmas bit appears to have been obtained from the Daily Mail. To the best of my knowledge this misconception came from a misreading of a Birmingham City Council memo some years ago: the council was planning celebrations of a number of festivals from various faiths. Rather than list them all by name, the official referred to “the Winter festival period”. This has been compounded by Councillors representing multicultural areas suggesting that councils should not sponsor one particular faith’s festivals. This is not the same as wanting to abolish Christmas. Even Dawkins describes himself as a “cultural Christian” and says he “enjoys belting out the carols at Christmas”.
This shows up Benedicts hypocrisy anyway. It is clear that he finds views other than his own offensive and would like them to be silenced. This is perhaps not surprising, given his former job; he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith FKA the Holy Office FKA the Inquisition. In other words he has spent his career suppressing dissent.
He also links atheism with Nazism, which has to be a deliberate lie as he lived through the period and must surely know that the Nazis were not atheists. As a former member of the Hitler Youth, he should have known that the motto of the SS was “Gott mit uns”. As a long-time Vatican bureaucrat he is surely aware of the history of his own organisation: how the Catholic Centre Party in Germany between the World Wars was stripped of opponents to the Church heirarchy and how Hitler gained supreme power due to a two-thirds majority in the Reichstag with the help of Centre Party members. I am not saying the Vatican was necessary for the triumph of Nazism. I am saying they made it easier.