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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

£12 Million For The Pope Is A Bargain

The British media have been reporting with alarm that The Pope's visit to Britain in the autumn will cost twelve million pounds, up from a supposed eight million that had been proposed at some stage.  The tone of these reports is secular and critical, and a thinly veiled anti-religious attitude underpins them.  Firstly, let us consider this - Catholicism is a major religion, and The Pope - despite the real and imagined faults of his Faith - is its leader.  He is also a political head, of The Vatican.  As such, his visit should be accorded the full seriousness and security that any world leader would expect.  Security needs to be tight because Britain is now the leading world exporter of dogmatic atheism, and here is a genuine hatred of this man in ever-widening circles.  Now, I can understand why some people feel hatred for what he stands for - he is conservative, holds difficult theological views, and he has been linked to terrible accusations.  But mob rule cannot be allowed to gain a foothold in rational discourse.  Either Britain is a tolerant, welcoming, and diplomatic place, where invited guests can expect reasonable treatment, or not. Catholics number 4.2 million souls in England and Wales, by one count, and as many go to Mass as Anglicans attend Sunday service.  While this might seem a small percentage of the overall population, this minority forms a valuable social backbone for communities, particularly in London.  Before the British media sneers or groans too loudly, they should try to grasp the full body horror and convert it from loathing to acceptance: Catholicism is not some external disease seeking to gain admission to the UK with the Pope's visit - but a flourishing organ of this nation already.  The Pope's visit is sadly timed - it is a time of great controversy for him personally, and for his role - but the visit should go ahead, and all legitimate costs embraced.  If the secular state is properly robust, it should welcome such tests, not repel them.
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