The Humanist Association of Northern Ireland believes in the right of people to freely celebrate their faith— provided they do not interfere with the right of others to believe or not to believe what they choose. This qualification is important.
It is in this context that a Protest the Pope campaign is being organised throughout the UK to oppose the Pope’s state visit, which takes place from September 16-19.
The campaign is calling on the British Government to dissociate itself from Pope Benedict’s intolerant teachings on women’s rights, gay equality, and the use of condoms to control the population and prevent the spread of HIV.
On these and many other issues, the Pope is out of step with the majority of Britons, |including most Catholics.
There are particular grounds in Northern Ireland for opposition to the visit. First of all, there is strong evidence that Pope Benedict was complicit in the cover-up of the abuse of children throughout the island by continuing to insist that accusations of paedophilia within the priesthood should be treated by the Church's own exclusive jurisdiction.
Secondly, the Pope’s insistence that the Catholic Church maintains its own schools is prolonging segregated education, which is detrimental to the future of peace.
Finally, the Pope's stance on many other issues, such as abortion, hinders the development of the genuine secular and pluralist democracy that Northern Ireland so desperately needs.
Humanist Association of NI