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Friday, 15 September, 2006

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Sep 06, 06:00 PM

lansley_203.jpgThe government is accused of deciding hospital cuts and closures for political gain; the Pope has angered Muslims by being critical of Islam; and George Bush has responded to Colin Powell’s suggestion that he’s losing the moral high ground in the “war on terror”.

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  • 1.
  • At 07:12 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Michael Harris wrote:

Gordon Brown has manipulated employment figures to Labour's advantage in certain key areas with vast numbers on the Government's payrol and is thus more morally, more corrupt than Dame Shirley Porter ever was. It is unthinkable that they would not use our health service to political advantage. He will no doubt be shedding crocadile tears for other people's children who suffer and die as a result!

  • 2.
  • At 07:29 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Rick B wrote:

I think the Pope was slighlty more than "critical" of Islam. He quoted a reference to the sum total of Islam's progress as being "evil" and "inhuman".

To me, he seems to have (wittingly or unwittingly I don't know) fallen into line with RW pundits who support Bush and Blair and demonize Islam in order to justify pre-emptive wars against muslim countries.

  • 3.
  • At 07:38 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • duncan mckay wrote:

Yet another justificiation for aethism!! Just imagine no religion
nothing to kill or die for...millions of lives saved! 186 major religions they can't all be right! Can't we all just agree their all man made and based on fear and to keep religion out of all schools, governments, healthcare and judiciaries? And to just make it a personal choice / freedom of ADULTS who feel they need it?

  • 4.
  • At 08:01 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • MICK FENNER. wrote:

Regarding the popes speech, religions have said derogatary things about the others at all times, maybe it used to increase believers to a faith when complaining about the other. Now it is makeing them all look childish and reduceing people going into a religion. Thank goodness for better education.
To the Islams when we know which part of the world is true Islam our understanding will be much easier.

  • 5.
  • At 08:04 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Paul Spiteri wrote:

Pope Benedict is not only an internationally respected theologian, but a very pious man. He did not insult or offend Muslims around the world, rather they were insulted and offended because they probably did not grasp the scope of what he was saying. However, there are Muslim scholars who appear to understand his point. Perhaps these intellectual and respected Muslims who understand him, could reassure their own Muslim brothers, and clarify his position, instead of letting the street burn things, demanding apologies. Their misguided protests should be assuaged by their Muslim brothers who happen to be more enlightened.

  • 6.
  • At 08:04 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • MICK FENNER. wrote:

Regarding the popes speech, religions have said derogatary things about the others at all times, maybe it used to increase believers to a faith when complaining about the other. Now it is makeing them all look childish and reduceing people going into a religion. Thank goodness for better education.
To the Islams when we know which part of the world is true Islam our understanding will be much easier.

  • 7.
  • At 09:10 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Vivian Evans wrote:

It doesn't surprise me that people in muslim countries, incensed by their religious leaders to burn the pope's effigy, have no idea what the pope really said.
It does surprise me that people in Europe, who have access to the media, also condemn the pope without actually having informed themselves about the lecture of the pope. The quotation the muslims are so incensed about are actually from a dialogue between the emperor of Byzanz and a persian imam - in the 14th century. At that time, Islam was attacking the byzantine empire on all sides. This 14th C quotation was used (and criticised!) by Benedict XVI as an introduction to his lecture on reason and faith.
There was no attack on Islam - there was nothing in any way objectionable! Of course - it was pretty highbrow: after all, it was a lecture in
a university.
Have we in Europe now reached a point where nothing must be said about Islam unless it is praise - for fear, mobs in countries who are driven by demagogoues might burn some effigies?
And have we now reached the point where muslim religious leaders are allowed without protest to liken Pope Benedikt to Hitler and Mussolini?
Has general secularisation now gone so far that one side (Islam) cannot be touched - and the other (Christianity) can be denigrated any which way, because it doesn't matter?
This is certainly not the way forward to a dialogue between religions.

  • 8.
  • At 09:14 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

This government, they say , have got form on hypocrisy, sleeze, misinformation,gongs for sale or sold & now deservedly they're running scared of losing their electorate ... just why do these politicians think they can get away with it, the populous can read ,write, hear & see!(No thanks to NL)
Leaked iffy! emails on NL nefarious! matters have been their badge of dishonour for years.... civil servants ,allegedly, are Q-ing up to leak more confidential info'
So the would -be PM, would you buy a car from this man???, Gordon Browne, must open the piggy bank & pay for the Robust Health Service they insist we all have.."Free at the point of need" &,so called..little witchy-poo Hazel Blears should think on, consider her position, as they say,& maybe unwillingly, but ever smiling, have to re-shuffle & cut the cards differently...won't she!!

  • 9.
  • At 09:15 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • joe leigh wrote:

The government have form. But so did the conservatives. I bear the scars of managing in the NHS, (with political guidance always available), under politicians from Thatcher onwards.

Politicians think in political cycles and seek party advantage, they are often ruthless, rarely dispassionate. They have limited experience of running or managing anything outside of politics. They are developing political careers that require no experienced in life outside the political process. Should they be allowed to make strategic decisions...well who should make them instead? The alternatives might be worse.... But they should be made clearly, independently and publically accountable by an independent review and reporting system - and more easily humiliated - for gross incompetence or bad faith with the country.

A theoretical basis is there, if the commons actually acted as a body whose mechanisms aspired to hold government to account; rather than acting as a servile group of wanabees and has beens, elected on the coat-tails of what is now, (apparently), considered a presidential system. [The people of Sedgefield elected TB, rather more than a third of the population elected Labour MPs and thus we have a democratically elected "president"]

With any mechanisms to be agreed and approved by politicians, (in a House of Commons corrupted by the current version of party politics), probably not at all. Our corruption of the body politic is not latin in style but it is distastfull and widespread and often unnoticed by the politicians. The trough for MPs is full of generous pensions, potential high office, future directorships, untaxed, unchecked allowances.
Turkeys do not vote for Christmas and MPs do not want to see accountability.
Government is the right to allocate the spoils of victory without fear but with much favour. Politicians have a political not a moral compass, tthey do not always point in the same direction.
Remember democracy is a poor form of government, but if we had it it would be the best form of government known to man.

  • 10.
  • At 09:38 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Bill wrote:

I don't know whether the inflation figures are manipulated but I do know that many of us just do not believe them. You only have to look at what is happening to council tax, gas, electricity, water, TV licence, insurance- you name it. How many of these were only increased by just over 2% during the last year? It just makes more and more of us cynical.

  • 11.
  • At 09:40 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Simon wrote:

Memo to media monitoring (no, I’m sure I’m kidding myself if anyone with a ‘serious’ job takes the time to read this:-)

It seems to me this health story gets to the heart of the question on what the role of politicians is (though that may not be obvious based on the contributions here already) The Mill(burn/bank) approach seems to be just decide and execute the exact logical steps we need to maintain our electoral position. And much as accountants have a critical role in society (and of course if you ask them to decide the ‘optimal’ solution against given criteria they will), it seems to me these decisions are the role for local politicians – both MPs and councillors. This may hark back a little too much to the soviet union for some, but shouldn’t even ‘ordinary’ party members be not just leaflet deliverers and telesales people, but community activists who engage the local community to think creatively and independently about local solutions?

The point with local health services, that are understandably a huge local issue, is the way healthcare is evolving (this is only my view from outside, but I can see from understanding the technology that this is not surprising) is towards what could in Newsnight terms be called the Cuban system – where while at the moment in the UK we have a two tier (GP and hospital) system, we are evolving towards a three tier (GP, ‘treatment centre’ and hospital) system. Which suggests, to me, that no hospital ever needs to ‘close’ but could well be downgraded – though its not clear if ‘closure’ is the press term for downgrading, or if bureaucrats do take the over-simple approach of actually shutting down a site completely. And probably for may people A&E means a doctor immediately on call, whereas to the professionals maybe it means a whole operating theatre and intensive care capacity? If so, is there a reason not to replace an A&E that ‘closes’ with a 24 hour walk in ‘treatment centre,’ or maybe even a paramedic and ambulance ready on call? I don’t know nearly enough to say for sure, but it seems to me this maybe is where we need to start looking at healthcare from a customer rather than a provider perspective. Some will say this just becomes about spin, but if local people are involved in the process step by step, they will both choose and understand the changes.

  • 12.
  • At 09:55 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Terri Robson wrote:

The only country that does not use health as a political gain that I can see is Cuba.In fact they send health professionals around the world.One can thank lobby groups for big business who want nothing more than all health to be privatized,Governments go along with this as it means less money they need to spend on their "SOCIAL RESPONSIBLILITY".A healthy well educated country is one that will be in the forefront of the 21st. Century.

  • 13.
  • At 09:59 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Terri Robson wrote:

Given the Catholic Church's extremely vicious history the Pope is way out of line. It just keeps showing the intolerance on an institution that is male dominated (every religion).The bottom line is that more wars have been waged in the name of religion than any form of armed conflict.

  • 14.
  • At 10:00 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • keith Hughes wrote:

Governments decide health policy and the quality of commissioning for delivery has to be challenged in meeting governmental priorities. Can people reasonable get to a service slightly further from them? In most cases yes they can. The unpopularity of closing any acute service is what has created the massive overspends in PCT, tough decisions need to be made to ensure people can recive healthcare locally but most of this is non-specialist and doesn't need expensive highly specialist services which are under used. The right services, in the right places can enable a huge increase in both the quality and capacity of services to deliver on ever increasing expectations, there is no space for sentimentality.

It is a sad reflection on our modern secular world that 'political correctness' has replaced 'piety'. The BBC2 excellent programme on '9/11'highlighted something I was unaware of; along with interdepartment rivalry, the key role that Human Rights, Political Correctness and Civil Liberties took in preventing the American security services in stopping the 9/11 killers. The Pope, a learned man delivered a balanced lecture, but because he had the temerity to mention the prophet - all hell has broken loose. The reaction of the Muslim world demonstrates how sensitive they are, and strengthens the argument that as Christianity has discovered; Muslims must realise that the strength of their faith is sufficient to repel critical comments. Islam,as Christianity is strong enough to allow criticism.

  • 16.
  • At 10:40 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Jerry Hart wrote:

People ask 'why didn't the Pope use another religion as an example?'

I ask, 'why not Islam'?

  • 17.
  • At 10:43 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Jerry Hart wrote:

Can you ask Inyat about Iranian comments on Israel?

  • 18.
  • At 10:49 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • sam wrote:

Considering the number of ppl across Europe accepting Islam, without any kind of force put upon them (quite the opposite, in fact). I can well understand the pope feeling a little "put out". With the rapid decline of Christianity, his jealously was apparent in his chosen quote.

  • 19.
  • At 10:52 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Taz wrote:

There's a lot of people, especially the Archbiships that have been on TV, saying 'I think the Pope meant to say...' or 'I feel what he was actually trying to say...', and are trying to justify the quote used. Theses same people can't understand the reaction to the comments by Muslims around the world. Given that a lot of Muslims are from the 3rd world, you can't blame Muslims to have taken the Pope'c comments at face value. This was a direct and personal attack on Islam - there's are no two-ways about it.

  • 20.
  • At 11:09 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Debbie Driscoll wrote:

I am sad to think that there is no discussion about rational thought, just subjective religious view points. Can we not just ask whether both Christian and Muslim viewpoints are just unproven and irrational ideas that have no basis in fact and that both poison our treatment of all humanity today?

  • 21.
  • At 11:09 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Gordon Pye wrote:

I can't stop speculating whether the pope's comments on violent war and Islam were inspired by the conflict in Darfur. After all the Arab Janjaweed are probably Muslim and are guilty of genocide against the indigenous Darfur population. If two million die it will be due to a mainly Islamic country allowing it to happen so that other Muslims can take over the land. Why has this possibility not been explored in the media before or is everyone scared of upsetting the fundamentalists

  • 22.
  • At 11:25 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Tom Smith wrote:

Gerrymandering in health care is rife; the pork barrel is the preferred method for allocating recent PFI hospital projects.

The SHA's are highly politicised organisations with well-laid plans for these closures dating back to the middle of the last parliament. The documents are all on the websites. Several A&E units, of which Rochdale is the first, are slated for closure around mMnchester and at least six maternity units. Closing Hinchingbrooke maternity unit puts 2500 women on the A14 to Cambridge.

Vigorous local campaigns with council support, local and regional newspapers and much local activism can turn things around - see Stroud and Salford.

This is overt proof that the money has been massively mis-spent on political targets, quangos and the politicisation of health service policy. Mr Lansley needs to get his words in order and get angry - like the rest of us. This one will run and run .....

  • 23.
  • At 11:27 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Keith Donaldson wrote:

Well, I managed to read the whole speech and I have to say that I think it is even worse than has been portrayed. Although he does not accuse Islam of being a violent religion per se, he makes the association by his historical reference and singularly fails to make any apology for the violence and cultural vandalism perpetrated by the early & medieval Christian Church. Worse, his main thesis is to equate specifically Christianity with reason, because it can (some would say it has been forced to) embrace logical thought from the ancient Greeks to the enlightenment; but at the same time he equates Islam and other transcendental religions with irrational thinking. At best, extremely politically naive! At worst….?

  • 24.
  • At 11:36 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • shirley andrews wrote:

The pope makes a comment from the koran,passed by the media out of context.The muslims are crying for his blood.
Tom Brown writes a book "De Vinchi Code"a book of fiction based on fact. The vactican condems the book.
Reaction the indiveduel, regardless,goes out and buy's the book "De Vinchi Code.The book is a world best seller,translated into God knows. (I don't, how many languges)Author becomes a millionaire.The films is a flop.I have move sympathy for muslims then the catholic church.But I think all good muslims should lighten up.Even your own kind disinterperate the koran differently.Example the fanatics who become terrorists.You say "Islam is a peaceful", religion.Then prove it by not over reacting when someone passes a comment on that you neither like or agree with.

  • 25.
  • At 12:00 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • john bond wrote:

There was only one question that Kirsty Wark should have put to the muslim representative commenting on the Pope's speech, and that is "is what the Pope said true?" We all know that any criticism of islam enflames muslims; there is nothing new to be said about that. What would have been interesting would have been to ask the muslim to tell us what there is that is new in Muhammad's teaching and practice apart from the incitement to violence in the name of his God. If he could have given us a convincing answer to that then the Pope's remarks would have been refuted. Please begin to ask the "Is it true" question of muslims who come on the programme only to express their emotions.

Please tell me again: how come that there's masses of comment on this Newsnight-comment site before the programme has actually been shown to us non-privileged viewers? Unless they're posting from abroad, the first 15 (!) postings were sent before the programme was even screened on BBC2 at the normal time of 22:30.

It doesn't matter whether the views are the same as yours, but if there's a claque of yeah-sayers, I shall stop assuming the critical guise of Collected Eric, as I will know that no one listens any longer to critical voices.

Who put the rat in Ratisbon and Ratzinger? Well, Bishop Kevin and Bungle-Wallah certainly managed to bicker.

The heat-maps bit were interesting, and Kirsty was rightly angry about the shortage of minutes (Newsnight sometimes suffers from the same, given the multi-meaning of "minutes").

The Newsnight Review is sinking faster than the main programme. Martha's still keeping up her head-girl shriek once in a while, while she's as silent as the grave throughout much of the competitive babble. Kwame would make a good compère.

When I was a child, we had day-lee-ers in our garden. Fancy them turning them into darlias. I like the look of Hilary Swank, though her name should is unfortunate when one thinks of rhythmic dildosity.

The rest of the Review is down-the-pan stuff. All the material is painfully trendy and babbleable-about. The well-paid panel guests just go on and on and on about the utter trivia served up to them. Their fees make them as docile as lambs, so that they'll go to the most idiotic exhibition, read the most boring book, watch the most turgid film, just to jump over the hurdle of pay.

Martha had better get a few more grapes for her vineyard, otherwise another Gorby'll come along and chop down the vines. (One Vine did disappear, long ago, from Newsnight, by the way.)

  • 27.
  • At 12:53 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Valentinus wrote:

Tonight's programme had barely begun and we had the classic spectacle of snide Warkian sarcasm towards religion in general and Catholicism in particular. Who is 'Pope Ratzinger'? I've never heard of him. I have heard of Benedict XVI (not mentioned), a great and inclusive European mind. Invoking neither the Crusades nor the Inquisition would have been at all relevant to his lecture. What is relevant is the Pope's insistence (echoing Emperor Manuel) on the culture of dialogue between faith and reason as a point of resistence to the unholy alliance of faith and violence. Is this subtlety of thought and depth of historical learning now beyond even Newsnight?

There is, of course, an odd lacuna at the heart of the discussion of Benedict's words as it has so far been conducted in the organs of the international media: the question of Byzantium–-which only a mind as nuanced as Benedict's can grasp. It is the trauma of Byzantium–-its capture by the Ottomans; the loss of Hagia Sophia, the most stupendous religious building in the world; the dissolution of Greek Christian civilization––these are the memories with which Benedict wishes Europe would once more engage. Not to stoke up any mindless clash of civlizations, but to redeem dialogue between faiths by the authentic understanding of loss, failure and pain. There is an ethic Christian and Muslim can share at the centre of this vital task.

  • 28.
  • At 01:00 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Adrian Morgan wrote:

Dear Newsnight

To the rational person the Popes comments were an attack on those who justify violence in the name of their religion.

As in Northern Ireland, when both Catholics and Protestants, used the tools of murder and violence to promote what they believe was a justifiable cause, so too those who profess the Islamic faith, and also use murder and violence against innocent people, commit deeply immoral acts and are deservedly criticised. It is typical of the Muslim Council of Great Britain to plead victimhood and demonization of their faith because someone dares to criticise it. Once more burning effigies and threats of violence, and from Turkey, an apparently "moderate" and "secular" society, where Islam is the main religion, threats against churches and a school. Is this the religion of "peace" so often defended by the MCGB? Are these the actions of rational people?

The reality is that Islam is being recognised for what it is - a political, and often fascist movement, intent on the destruction of Western politics,freedom and liberty. To those of us with or without a religious faith, that it is criticised for what it is, is not only correct, but necessary.

  • 29.
  • At 01:11 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • elkoolio wrote:

Re: Pope. There’s a good chance we are all being manipulated here. Religious zealots incapable of independent thought are whipped into frenzy by cultural leaders. Western media laps it up, representing and discussing it as if it was considered and universal, i.e. not just the social control of the feckless. Images terrify Westerners, you now want their governments to protect them against it. Muslims are attacked. Muslims attack back. A cycle of hatred that plays into the hands of both fanatical Islam, Christianity, Jewry etc. and media broadcasters. A toast: To the new Crusades!

Remember all terrorist groups are linked to Islam in the same fashion they were all linked to Communism twenty years ago – that is in the minds of the power brokers. Bring back the Cold War! At least one can respect an ideology, unlike a religion.

How dare Pope Benedict criticise Islam suggesting that it was spread by the sword?

Does he not realise that Islam is the religion of peace?

  • 31.
  • At 04:20 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Oleg Lisagor wrote:

With respect to the Newsnight feature on meetings held at the Department of Health, i do not see how the Labour party and the Government can discharge the criticism.

If the meetings were indeed purely political meetings of the Labour party as claimed by the party officials, these should not have been held at the premises of the department of health. That very building is maintained by taxpayers money. It is absolutely inapprpropriate therefore to use facilities of the department to aid Labour party (e.g. to plan for the party conference as claimed by the minister). Why are *my* tax money spent on effectively subsidising the party that i do not support?!

If allegations made by the Shadow Secretary are true, then clearly the Labour party has exerted an undue (if not unlawful) influence onto the Department of Health and the NHS. Presence of party officials at a management meeting is grossly inappropriate. Absence of the minutes of the meeting is another inpropriety that probably contradicts governmental and departmental codes of practice.

Either way, a clearly inappropriate action has been taken by the Government and/or the Labour Party!

  • 32.
  • At 11:02 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • joshua wrote:

i just want to say that am greatful with all the news so far.and i say more grizze to your able

  • 33.
  • At 11:52 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Trofim wrote:

I noted that Kirsty W, reflecting innate BBC pro-Islamic bias, said that the Pope "picked" on Islam - he didn't select or choose it, of course. But I am always reassured to see the brilliant way in which muslims reinforce the stereotypes of themselves which they repudiate.

  • 34.
  • At 12:20 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Rami wrote:

What I find absurd is the persistance of the west to keep disrespecting the prophet of islam whom one and half billion muslim's uphold as an exampler and who themselves show nothing but love for all the prophet's of God be it Jesus or Moses. Then to quote a 14th century 'troubled' christian emperior by questioning the whole Islam faith and not to counter balance it with church crusders in his speech, shows the tactical employed by the west to insult, in this case to say it was intended to bring reason or dialogue. The pope's comment are offensive especially from a highly religious cleric of christianity and he should apologies.

  • 35.
  • At 01:14 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Hugh Livesey wrote:

In the item on last night's (16/09/06) Newsnight concerning the health controversy, Kirsty Wark referred several times to "gerrymandering". What on Earth did the manipulation of constituency boundaries for political advantage have to do with the subject under discussion?

  • 36.
  • At 02:18 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • JP Lotz wrote:

It is both stunning and tragic that these reactions to the pope's lecture to university professors and administrators in his home country should have been allowed to rage around the world so quickly with only very few educated muslims protesting against this obvious misunderstanding.

I also find it remarkable that so many comments above have also taken their point of departure from sound-bites they have picked up, instead of the lecture which the pope gave. Anyone actually interested in what Benedict really said, as opposed to fanning the flames of bigotry, can easily read the pope's lecture, which is linked on the BBC article about the incident. Are we really so happily uninformed these days?

Shame on educated muslims from profitteering from this misunderstanding. Anyone who actually read the lecture would realize that the pope is not criticizing Islam, but secularism! And shame on the media for knowing better (or at least being able to!) and none the less joinging in the frenzy, just to get ratings by scoring anti-catholic points!

  • 37.
  • At 04:16 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Rick B wrote:

Comment to post#15: the so-called docudrama "Path to 9/11" has been widely discredited as being inaccurate and was funded by a RW christian organisation with links to the Bush administration. You'd be better off watching "9/11: Press for Truth" which follows the story of the "Jersey Girls" (9/11 widows) who pushed for the creation of the 9/11 Commission. This is a real documentary with the real people involved not actors in a fictionalized script.

  • 38.
  • At 04:22 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Rick B wrote:

Adrian Morgan says:

"The reality is that Islam is being recognised for what it is - a political, and often fascist movement, intent on the destruction of Western politics,freedom and liberty".

Pull yourself together Adrian, muslims have much more to fear from us. Western forces have killed at least 30,000 Iraqi civilians in "shock and awe", not to mention all the ones injured and tortured since then. Then with our govts consent Israel then went and bombed Lebanon back by 20 years.

  • 39.
  • At 09:16 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

JP Lotz wrote: "It is both stunning and tragic that these reactions to the pope's lecture to university professors and administrators in his home country..."

With full media present in a country where muslim Turkish immigration has been a sore point for decades this was not an event meant to pass unnoticed. Whatever excuses are made it does seem fair to assume that this man acted deliberately, whatever the purpose. Perhaps it was to provoke examples of "unreasonable" muslim reaction, just as, in his teaching days, he revelled in making the student protestors of the 1960s look extreme?

Popes promote their idea of Roman Catholicism. That is their purpose in life, not to go hand in hand with any other religion. It is delusion to suggest that.

This Pope, as when he was writing the policy for his predecessor, has very strong beliefs very much at odds with many other people's. It really is insulting to both him and those he ruthlessly opposes to pretend otherwise. He opposes the violence of the sword (and no doubt the bomb), but he does huge violence himself by the attacks he makes on the right to equality of those he interpretes his god as having forever condemned to inferior status - women, the infertile, those who don't fit standard sex roles, those of other religions, or none.

Whether the intended result is deprivation of rights, loss of family, hopelessness and suicide, of simply public condemnation, it is still violence. He just doesn't see it as violence, just clarifying god's intentions, affirming faith, even spreading god's love. In that context rational analysis of his words and actions is meaningless.

What I truly don't understand is how BBC journalists can write of him, as did Peter Gould ( "The first year of his papacy passed off without controversy." When he condemned Canadian catholic politicians for not following his orders on same-sex marriage? When he condemned the Spanish PM on the same subject? When he has made so many right-wing appointments and transfers? When he tried to interfere in the Italian elections on many subjects? When he has continued ever more strongly the opposition to stem cell research and assisted fertility, contraception and the use of condoms to save people from HIV infection - pressure which in some countries is effectively causing genocide? When he put his Prada-shod foot right into controversy on Nazi death camps, ignoring how many he himself condemns were imprisoned and tortured in them?

The man is highly controversial, and deliberately so; he is on a mission.

  • 40.
  • At 11:34 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Lesley Boatwright wrote:

The worst of it is that all these inflammatory comments and antics by middle-aged or elderly male religious leaders of whatever persuasion are giving religion in general a bad name. If they believe in peace, why don't they just quietly pray for it?

  • 41.
  • At 03:26 PM on 17 Sep 2006,
  • Jennifer Watts wrote:

I think the Pope put too much stress on Christianity in these inflammable
times. OK he quoted a piece, it was not his own, but why was it not edited by the many people in the Vatican. I believe he, as a known intellectual, was not trying to talk about Islam not in a derogatory manner, but to say, if you want Islam's security in the West, you must gain their security in the East.I am a Christian,(RC not a good practioner)but have nothing against Islam,or any other religion. I have spent many years abroad and it has taught me to respect the religion of the country I was living in.Our ends should be the same, to eradicate terrorism, and live peaceable together. Regretfully the Pope made a faux pas, has apoligised, and intellectual Muslims et al, have recognised this, for which I admire them. It is to be hoped no jihad against the West will be made, and the M.E. be respected for their religion. I know the quote came from earlier times, when the Muslims were in power, and conquering to the gates of Vienna,into France through Spain,and the whole Meditteranean was an Islamic lake,opened by the Vikings,for trade. However, we are also to blame for the Crusades. The whole objective of this world,should be to try and live in peace together. Perhaps the Pope has been listening to too much of Bush's speeches, and he does not have the charisma of his predecessor. For this time he should be forgiven, he will do his penance like a good Catholic!!!
Hopefully he will learn by his errors. Jennifer W.

  • 42.
  • At 09:38 AM on 18 Sep 2006,
  • Stephen Popham wrote:

The Newsnight piece on the Pope story was excellent. Sadly the same cannnot be said about BBC news 24 coverage, which almost exclusively concentrated on the sound bite version of the Pope's message rather than it's true meaning. Also the BBC news website misquotes the key quote in a number of places, significantly changing it's meaning and a number of muslim speakers were allowed to misrepresent it without challenge.
Perhaps the excellent folk at newsnight should investigate. If we can't rely on the BBC to defend free speech which is what this story is really about, who can we rely on to do so.

In about six weeks time I will flock, like thousands of others, to see the Pope burned! It's only his effigy burned every November by several bonfire societies in Lewes, an otherwise sleepy town. It is mainly historic, although I expect some will be burning Tony Blair and George Bush too. There will be no mass public protest from Catholics worldwide. There lies the difference, between religions and societies that are strong enough and mature enough to accept criticism - and one that is totally intolerant of any other belief. Could this be due to brain-washing at a very early age, followed by domination rhetoric by violent clerics?

  • 44.
  • At 10:28 PM on 18 Sep 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

Jennifer Watts wrote: "I think the Pope put too much stress on Christianity in these inflammable times. ...Our ends should be the same, to eradicate terrorism, and live peaceable together."

I see that, in saying that he meant no offence, he is reported to have gone on to repeat the infamous passage from his holy book's Corinthians which has been used so often to justify hatred of Jewish people. No doubt he meant to give no offence with that either. That would seem to only possible if he feels such passages should simply be accepted as obedience to god, of acceptance of the pope's ineffable goodwill as successor of the apostles (not to mention various Roman gods and godesses, worship of whom his predecessors ruthlessly suppressed - check out the origin of his crossed keys emblem for example). That would also fit with him believing that the huge violence his pronouncements and policies do to women and some minorities, and to science, and to elements of justice and democracy, should equally be obediently accepted and not seen as offensive.

I would guess he is going to carry on in the same vein, intending that eventually his infinite wisdom will be accepted. I see someone suggested he can see such things only from one side.

The aggressively monotheist, proslytising religions have never been about peaceful coexistence with others, I'm afraid, even if some of their members have believed otherwise. This pope's idea of coexistence seems to be that any other religion that is prepared to accept his view of them will join his mission to suppress the "evils" of secularity, women, and sexuality. That isn't going to lead to living peacably together.

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