Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Father Jekyll and Monsignore Hyde

Go to a village. No, I mean go to a village in a catholic country, and look for its centre. If it is a rich country like Italy or Spain, it may be a shopping centre, a restaurant, a memorial. If the place is poor, it is the church and you will most likely find that this is not because of its more or less ancient stones, but because the Pater behaves as a father. Around the world, there must be hundreds of thousands of these people, who channel spirit and courage to their communities, console them, care for them, knows their concerns, learns from them, channel philanthropy in an honest and efficient way and creatively promote appropriate agricultural development. Many of them have the courage to listen to their parishioners and their own conscience before they listen to their superiors and in so doing they may act as humans and Christians rather than as the cogs in a wheel that some of their learned bishops may wish for. And so it happens that within the framework of the catholic church, it is possible for example for prostitutes to be advised on avoiding sexually transmitted diseases, for ordinary women to be helped to access family planning and for homosexuals to be told that there is not something wrong with them.

If you go to Rome or any city in a catholic country, you may, if you wish, meet a high-ranking representative of the Roman catholic church such as a Monsignore. He shall explain to you, why it is good to inspire guilt in those who came into the world with sexual desires, which are not like the majority's (but in all fairness often like his own, though that will not be intimated), that it is God's justice, if the ignorant prostitute dies from AIDS (though in all fairness he or she may have a chance beyond), and that it is sinful to use a contraceptive rather than begetting a child, who is, given the prevailing poverty, likely to advance from starving street-child to prostitution and an early death.

The catholic church has these two sides. Other churches and denominations also, but not in such startling contrast.

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