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.