Seven reasons to protest Pope Francis

by Michael Nugent on August 19, 2018

mdh francis Six years ago, Atheist Ireland joined LGBT Noise in a small protest outside the Catholic Church’s Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, against the ongoing efforts by the Vatican to oppose equal civil rights for LGBT people. A lot has changed since then.

This week Atheist Ireland will join a much larger number of protesters, in Dublin and around the country, against the injustices that the Catholic Church has perpetrated on our country.

On Saturday, while Pope Francis is in Croke Park, Jane Donnelly of Atheist Ireland will be speaking at a public meeting in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin supporting separation of Church and State. Please attend this or join your nearest protest.

We support the right to freedom of religion, including the right of Catholics to attend religious services with their Pope. But Catholics are just one religion among many and none, and the Irish State should not be funding and glorifying this visit.

Instead, the Irish State should be insisting to the Pope that his Church accepts that civil law takes precedence over Canon law, pays the reparations that it still owes to its many abuse victims, and relinquishes its control of our State-funded schools and hospitals.

Here are seven reasons to protest Pope Francis, and the Irish State’s funding of his visit to Ireland.

1. Pope Francis is a Pope of the global South with good PR in the global North. He is conservative on sexual morality issues. He is theologically regressive, talking frequently about the devil and endorsing an organisation of exorcists.

2. Pope Francis oversees a Church that has facilitated so much child sex abuse around the world, and protected so many child sex abusers around the world, that it would in any other context be considered an organised global criminal gang.

3. Pope Francis oversees a Church that refuses to pay reparations to its many victims of forced adoptions, mother and baby homes, and Magdalene laundries, and that has tried to collude with the Irish State to indemnify it even more than it already has.

4. Pope Francis oversees a Church that has been found to have positively lied to, positively misled, and deliberately misled, an Irish State inquiry into criminal sex abuse of children. It justified its lying by calling it mental reservation.

5. Pope Francis refuses to treat women as equals. His Church includes the attempted ordination of women on a strange list of the most serious crimes of all, alongside child sex abuse and crimes against the Eucharist and Confession. He has compared abortion to Nazi-era eugenics

6. Pope Francis creates the impression that he does not judge people for being gay. Actually he said that he does not judge gay people who want to be priests. His Church considers being gay to be an objective disorder, ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.

7. Pope Francis is prone to violent rhetoric. When answering a question about Islamist terrorists murdering journalists and other staff at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, he replied that he would punch somebody if they insulted his mother.

The Catholic Church is changing. Two thirds of Catholics now live in the Global South, mostly in South East Asia, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. In the Global North, including Ireland, Catholic theology is seen as increasingly implausible.

This Church no longer controls the Irish people. But it still controls our schools and hospitals, because of laws passed while it did control the people. Our State should be urgently repealing these laws, not financing a visit by the Pope who supports them.


Higgins President 2Yet again Ireland is to hold a Presidential election that excludes conscientious atheists as candidates, as in order to take office we would have to swear a religious oath that is in our Constitution. This would force us to dissemble about our beliefs, and breaches our human right to freedom of conscience and belief.

The oath that the new President must swear is:

“In the presence of Almighty God, I do solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will maintain the Constitution of Ireland and uphold its laws, that I will fulfil my duties faithfully and conscientiously in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and that I will dedicate my abilities to the service and welfare of the people of Ireland. May God direct and sustain me.”

If instead, in order to become President, the Constitution required that a winning candidate had to swear that there is no God, everybody would immediately realise that this would be a breach of their rights. But there is a blind spot when the discrimination is the other way around.

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M & J Geneva 2Atheist Ireland welcomes the published wording of the proposed amendment of the Constitution on around 25 October to repeal the offence of blasphemy.

Atheist Ireland will be meeting this afternoon with officials in the Department of Justice, to clarify any technical or logistical questions that we have.

We will then commence our fourteen-week campaign in support of repealing the offence. We have already held an initial planning meeting in Galway with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland, who also support repeal.

We support the right of everybody to hold their religious or nonreligious beliefs, and to have their safety as individuals protected by the law. We also support the right of everybody to criticise the content of religious or nonreligious beliefs.

If you would like to help with our campaign, please email us at

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MN WC Final 1998 2Twenty years ago this weekend, my wife Anne and I were in Paris to watch the 1998 World Cup final. It remains the culmination of my football-watching life. Nothing since has matched the scale of the atmosphere of seeing the inspired French defeat the magical Brazilians before a passionate home crowd to capture the world’s biggest sporting prize.

Our day had two unexpected moments. Traveling across on the Eurostar train, we were woken from our snoozing by a loud Scottish voice asking about tickets. I assumed it was a ticket inspector. It was a drunk Tommy Docherty, the former Manchester United manager. He wanted to watch the final somewhere in Paris, and was optimistically asking passengers if they had spare tickets.

I wore a nostalgia-trip outfit of my plain white early seventies Leeds shirt with the blue-stitched owl badge, topped off with my old red-and-white Bohemians scarf. That outfit caused the French police to search me at the railway station, and when I caught up with my wife Anne she was sitting on the ground, chatting to former England World Cup winner Nobby Stiles about his visits to Dublin. Anne photographed Nobby autographing my match programme.

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Atheist Ireland welcomes part of Schools Admissions Bill and continues our work for secular schools

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Joe Davis, one of Atheist Ireland’s earliest and most-loved members, died this week. For most of his life, he felt like an outsider as an atheist living in Ireland, and he was delighted to have found a like-minded community when Atheist Ireland was founded a decade ago. We were delighted to have had the privilege […]

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Atheist Ireland welcomes blasphemy referendum in October

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Atheist Ireland welcomes the announcement that our decade-long campaign for a referendum on the blasphemy law has been successful. We will finally be able to vote in October to remove this anachronistic, silly, and dangerous clause from our constitution. The blasphemy ban is anachronistic, because we should be removing 1930s religious references from the Irish […]

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The number one song on my birthday, 1st June, every year since I was born

June 1, 2018

1961 – Elvis Presley – Surrender 1962 – Elvis Presley – Good Luck Charm 1963 – Beatles – From Me To You 1964 – Cilla Black – You’re My World 1965 – Sandie Shaw – Long Live Love 1966 – Frank Sinatra – Strangers In The Night 1967 – Tremeloes – Silence Is Golden 1968 […]

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Abortion vote sees fall of Ireland’s Catholic Berlin Wall

May 27, 2018

This referendum sees the fall of the Catholic Berlin Wall that has kept a pluralist Irish people trapped within the laws of a Catholic Irish Constitution. Pregnant Irish women will now have the same right, to equality before the law, that gay couples have had since the marriage equality vote three years ago. They will […]

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Atheist Ireland, Evangelical Alliance, and Ahmadi Muslims welcome plan to end religious discrimination in access to schools

May 9, 2018

Minister for Education Richard Bruton has announced plans to prohibit State-funded primary schools run by the Catholic Church from discriminating in access on the ground of religion, but which will allow State-funded schools run by minority religions to continue to discriminate on the ground of religion if they are oversubscribed. Atheist Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance […]

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