Men who think that they’re right

The Cardinal

The Cardinal

Being down with flu gives one a perfect excuse to not wash and watch television all day. This morning I watched The Cardinal an American film made in 1963 and directed by Otto Preminger and staring Tom Tryon and Carol Lynley.

The title sequence included fantastic cinematography showing, what I assume to be, parts of The Vatican. Leading on from there were some pretty bizarre scenes of priests laying around prostrate in full regalia and behaving in a manner bordering on the homo-erotic.
After this things settled down a bit and becomes more mainstream. An individualistic American priest travels in Rome, Ireland, Vienna and The United States and pushes the Vatican to do the right thing. In the U.S. he stands up for a black priest who’s flock face racism from white catholics. In Vienna he presses the local Catholic bishops to resist Hitler.

Considering the dubious reputation of The Catholic Church’s regarding Nazism and racism this film struck me as propaganda.

Interestingly Otto Preminger was a Jew who faced racism at the hands of Catholicism in Vienna when a boy. Wikipedia states that Preminger was born in what is now the Ukraine and his family fled to Austria when the first world war began. Wikipedia states that his school insisted on teaching him “Catholic dogma” and that his Catholic classmates teased him. Preminger’s father was later offered a prestigious job but told he could take it only if he converted to Catholicism. The father rejected conversion but received the position anyway.

This evening the news reports that Pope Benedict XVI has recorded a Christmas message to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Thought For The Day on Christmas Eve.

I find this quite provocative.

I find it provocative because it follows The Pope’s announcement of a new “Apostolic Constitution” to provide a legal framework for the many thousands of Anglicans and former Anglicans who are unhappy with Anglican policy toward homosexuals to convert to Catholicism. It is also provocative because, Queen Elizabeth II is the head of The Church of England and traditionally makes a speech on Christmas Day.

We should remember that the leaders of all religions are self appointed. They are men who think they are right and that everyone should do what they say. Considering the bad press that Catholicism has received regarding rampant and unrepentant child abuse this year I think this blatant empire building is ill timed and demonstrates that religions dignitaries have no more claim to morality that the rest of us.

As a good agnostic I am fairly tolerant of all manner of religious idiocy but religions poaching followers can easily lead to real confrontation. I often find it useful to reverse an argument or situation to getter a better handle on it. HOw would it be if The Queen did  a Christmas message on 104.5 FM Roma and announced a scheme for Catholics who a unhappy with their kids being abused by Catholic priests to convert to The Church of England?

With the situation in Ireland still fragile we do not need some bloody German stirring up sectarian antagonism.

Listen to the Pope’s Christmas Eve message on Thought For The Day

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