I’ve no idea whether Pope Benedict was or wasn’t a member of the Nazi Youth when he was growing up in Germany. It would come as no surprise given the times and the world he was living in. But if he was, does that make him unfit to be Pope as some people claim?
My understanding of Christian philosophy is that the repenting sinner has greater spiritual worth than someone who has shown piety all their life. Welcome home the prodigal and all that.
Perhaps Joseph Ratzinger’s critics should examine their resentments, just as the dutiful son had to as he slaughtered the fatted calf, another who didn’t rejoice at the prodigal’s return.
Then there were the comment by Cardinal Casper that Britain harbours aggressive atheism that got Stephen Fry and others hot under the collar, but then seemed to prove his point by being aggressively atheistic.
Britain is certainly a secular society, but the militant atheists are very much in the minority. The majority have no view one way or the other and that is what hurts the church the most, the couldn’t care less agnosticism. At least they can have a good row with the dissenters.
But the most fatuous comment came from Birkbeck College’s professor of philosophy, A C Rayling:
The Vatican is no state. It is a garden in Rome with buildings on it. But if you and I set up the Church of the Fairies of the Garden, then I don’t think we should automatically be meeting the Queen, be entitled to seats in the House of Lords or get money for our fairy schools. If we shouldn’t have these rights, then I don’t think that the men in skirts should have them.
Hmm. If the Church of the Fairies had a 2,000 year history, a billion plus followers worldwide and the power to upset Stephen Fry simply by existing, I think they too would expect to be taken seriously in the world.
For the record, I call myself an atheist, but have no problem with the Pope’s visit if it makes people happy. And while Dawkins and Hawking make for interesting reading, by its own logic, science cannot prove that God doesn’t exist because you can’t prove a negative.
But if He did, He might clarify a few things.