Church Rules Are under Scrutiny like Never before

By Derek Lord
Press and Journal
September 24, 2010

AS THE Popemobile disappears over the horizon and Ian Paisley sucks on a Fisherman’s Friend to ease his torn vocal chords brought about by roaring “no surrender” and “down with the Antichrist”, or whatever it was he was shouting at his arch-enemy as he stalked the pontiff on his British tour, I can’t help wondering what all the fuss was about.

As a bewildered agnostic, I don’t have a lot of time for organised religion in any shape or form, but I have no quarrel with anyone who chooses to believe that there is some heavenly being out there somewhere who is on their side, provided they obey a few simple rules.

If it helps them get through the day, that’s their business, although in my limited experience of churchgoing folk I have found that most of them are pretty selective when it comes to the rules they obey.

Indeed, I can think of at least one church elder from our local kirk who has about as much Christian charity in her soul as Attila the Hun or Vlad the Impaler. But hopefully, she is the exception that proves the rule.

Before Pope Benedict set foot on these shores, 50 of the usual suspects, including such luminaries as Stephen Fry and Peter Tatchell, signed a letter to an English newspaper denouncing his visit.

Tatchell went on to present a television documentary in which he seemed to be blaming the Catholic Church and its leader for most of the world’s ills. He whisked the viewers off to Africa to show how the ban on the use of contraceptives was contributing to the spread of the Aids virus.

And, of course, he has a point.

But it could just as easily be argued that the American legislators who decriminalised homosexual behaviour were even more to blame. Since that time, 400,000 gay men have died from Aids in the US. Every one of those deaths could have been avoided if those men had listened to what Leviticus had to say about their lifestyle.

But, in these PC times, anyone who suggests that gay men should curb their desires when those desires are possibly going to end in a painful death is howled down as a homophobe or worse.

Is it not more likely that a real homophobe would be only too delighted to see what they describe as “the gay plague” claim a few million victims?

But the Pope still believes that homosexuality is a sin, so he will continue to be a target for the liberal elite.

In his defence, it’s hardly surprising that the 83-year-old clergyman is sticking to his guns after he has been exposed to countless tales of child abuse at the hands of his priests.

While there were some cases involving girls, the vast majority of the abused children were boys. This is not a statistic that Tatchell and Fry like to be reminded of, but it’s one they cannot deny.

I was listening to a radio interview with Father Brian D’Arcy, a Catholic priest, broadcaster and newspaper columnist, a few weeks ago on BBC Northern Ireland. When the talk got round to the child abuse scandal, the interviewer asked how it was that so many priests became paedophiles.

With alarming candour, the priest said: “Priests do not become paedophiles; paedophiles become priests.”

It was the sort of bald statement that takes your breath away. I expected it to be splashed all over the newspapers the following day, but there wasn’t a word about it.

The 65-year-old Father D’Arcy went on to discuss the whole problem of enforced celibacy and admitted that he had fallen in love with one of his female parishioners when he was much younger.

He said he had considered leaving the priesthood and getting married, but had decided against it. There was more than a tinge of sadness in his voice as he spoke of this decision.

It brought home to me the sheer lunacy of the Catholic Church’s stubborn stance on the issue of clerical celibacy. You don’t have to have a degree in psychology to figure out that not too many heterosexual men are going to be attracted to a life of celibacy.

And if straight men are going to give the priesthood a body swerve, what does that leave you with?

Paedophiles will infiltrate any organisation that allows them to be in close contact with children. I had my suspicions about our bony-kneed scoutmaster, for one, and I had definite proof that at least two of my teachers were paedophiles, but then children never connect sufficiently well with the adult world to bring the culprits to justice. They just talk among themselves and make sure they never find themselves alone with the sad sickos if they can help it.

I bring this up just in case you think this is merely a rant against one particular Church, but until the Catholic hierarchy see sense and allow their priests to enjoy the fulfilment of family life they will continue to attract the sort of folk that threaten to bring their whole organisation falling down around them.

But getting back to those rules I mentioned earlier, you know the ones laid down by God, Moses or whoever. I’ve often wondered how Christians avoided that one about not eating pigs.

That’s one thing the Jews and Moslems agree on.

But it seems there is at least one Christian sect that goes along with them – the Seventh-day Adventists. One of their number, a certain Private Oluwadare Adaramola, is suing the British Army for racial and religious discrimination after he was told he couldn’t have a microwave oven in his room.

He said he wouldn’t use the microwave that the other squaddies used in case they contaminated it with pork. His fellow-soldiers said he could have the use of a second microwave in the same room as theirs and that they would keep away from it, but that wasn’t good enough for Private Adaramola.

Actually, maybe he’s not as daft as he seems. Have you ever cooked rashers in a microwave? They’re horrible.


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