There's an old joke that goes:
A stranger walks into a bar and gets talking to a guy who's sat on his own in one corner, he asks him why he looks so down and why he's on his own.
He says "none of these people will talk to me anymore."
The stranger says says "Why's that?"
The man replies, "Well last year when I saved the Barmans family from a fire I was Bob the hero but do they remember me for that? When I rescued that dog from the river last winter do they remember me for that? And when I gave all that money for those school kids to go on that trip did they remember that?
"So what happened?" asked the stranger
And Bob said "You shag One sheep..."
The Pope's coming to visit.
It's a time when we're facing the biggest cuts this nation has ever seen, people will be losing their jobs, front line services will be cut, arts institutes that bring in far more than they cost will be cut in the name of saving money, and we're told that the Papal visit could cost up to £20m
That's 125 nurses.
That's one of the issues with the Pope coming, there's also the fact that his stance on contraception and the misinformation that the Vatican has put forward about the efficacy of condoms is doing nothing to help stop the spread of HIV and Aids in Africa, in fact contributing to the problem and hastening the deaths of 2 million people every single year.
That's like losing the population of Greater Manchester every year, that's Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, and the cities of Manchester and Salford.
But I think the biggest problem with letting this particular Pope visit is the Paedophilia thing.
The money thing's not his fault, though technically he is the head of one of the richest banks in the world, but the problem we've got's not his fault.
And the condom things, whilst he's against them it's the church as a whole that's responsible there, and whilst he is the leader he's been chosen by the power behind the throne because he won't rock the boat re contraception.
However when it comes to the rape of children in the care of priests over 5 continents and the systematic covering up of this, paying off victims and moving fiddly priests from one parish to another without telling the police or handing over any of their priests. You've really got to look at who was in charge of that particular office with the church. And that man was one Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. In 2001 he asked Pope John-Paul II to hand over the responsibility of all the investigations and policies surrounding sexual abuse of children by priests over to The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department for which he was head.
They were responsible for shuffling round people like Fr Oliver O'Grady one of the most notorious paedophile priests and the subject of the Documentary "Deliver Us from Evil".
Ratzinger was very much "Hands on" according to other priests working there, so it seems inconceivable that he didn't know about the systematic cover up.
But wouldn't that make him culpable? Because that would be tantamount to being the head of an international criminal conspiracy to pervert the course of justice wouldn't it?
Not one of those, the moon's hollow and the royal family and the Jews are all shape shifting pan dimentional lizards who have to drink human blood to maintain their human appearance and hare in league with the Freemasons and the city council and the illuminati and the EU, who are attempting to steal all of our mono-atomic gold and enslave us by putting computer chips in vaccines so that they can trace us everywhere we go with a big computer called "the Beast" so we'd best wear a tinfoil hat to confuse them type conspiracies, it's a genuine guys getting together to stop some of their friends from being sent to prison conspiracies.
Some people have said "But the majority of the abuse took place in the 70's 80's and 90's why would this Pope be responsible?"
Because when it came to light he was in the office that covered it up.
Someone even said to me:
"let's not pretend this was soley a Catholic problem, as all branches of Christianity suffered from this evil, and all research would suggest that it was proportional to the size of the Catholic church in comparison to the C of E."
to which the only sensible response is "and if the CofE jumped off a bridge would you?"
That other people were doing it is no excuse and never has been, unless he's saying that it's something that's specific to being a representative of the church, "well all the other vicars were doing it so I thought I'd give it a go." That's just silly.
And it's not like he turned a blind eye, which would be bad enough, he actively covered it up, it's like the reverse trolly problem.
The trolly problem is this:
there's a run away tram going down the tracks and there's five people tied to the track in one direction and it will kill them, but you can switch the track leading the tram off down a track where there's only one person tied to the track. What do you do? Kill or let die. If you turn a blind eye you've let five people die through your inactivity, but if you flick the switch you've actively done something that will lead to the death of a person.
I say it's the reverse trolly problem because if it was applied to this Pope he would have seen this, and his solution would have been to tie a load more people to the track with five people on it, because the one person on the other track was a priest and it might hurt the church.
And to make this absolutely clear, he wasn't one of many who helped to cover it up, he was one of a few and as such should face trial.
Obviously not in America, before his last visit he persuaded George W. Bush to grant him immunity from prosecution over the child sex abuse scandals.
Let me get this clear, I'm not anti Catholic any more than I am anti any other religion, what I am anti is kiddie fucking.
Now I know that's a controversial position, but I do have to say that on the whole fucking kids issue I'm not a fan, I'd go so far as to say that the people doing it are being very bad indeed.
The problem seems to be that you can't have a reasonable discussion with people with out them using logical fallacies.
there's an old one which goes "all crows are black, therefore all black things must be crows" it doesn't logically follow, and if it did it would render all Venn diagrams useless.
Just like in the first stages of the labour leadership there was a simple Venn Diagram you could do with two intersecting circles above one written "Eds" and above the other written "Milibands" With Ed Balls only in the "Eds" circle, and David Miliband in the "Milibands" and Ed Miliband in the intersecting area.
The same is true of Paedophilic priests, there are priests and there are paedophiles and whilst some paedophiles are priests not all priests are paedophiles. I firmly believe that.
But the problem is that the second you start saying that This Particular Pope is responsible for covering up these crimes people think that you're having a go at the whole of the Catholic church and every member of it.
I'm not, I can hate Abu Hamza without being anti muslim. I can hate Graham Norton without being homophobic, I can hate Margaret Thatcher without being anti Tory.
But at this point the weirdest thing happens, people change their tack and say "Yes but you're overlooking all the good work that the church does."
Hang on a minute, that doesn't cancel out the kiddie fucking. It really doesn't, it's not like it's a profit and loss sheet, I mean how much good do you have to do before it's alright to cover up for a rapist? Is helping out at a soup kitchen enough? Is there some sort of ready reckoner so you can figure it out for yourself?
"Well you've given 5% of your earnings to charity and given up a week of your holiday to help build flood defenses for poor people in third world countries, now that entitles you to either kick a kitten to death, or commit a medium sized fraud on your tax return."
or conversely "Well you've fucked a few kids this year, so I'm afraid you're not allowed to steal anything for the next year and you've got to give mass twice a week."
I always thought the Catholic church worked on Confession and repentance anyway, rather than this rather linear cause and effect karma system that people seem to have dreamed up.
Ann Widicombe even rolled her eyes when this gets brought up, like "Not again." Well I'm sorry, if I keep repeating this but these people were fucking children and babies, it's a pretty big thing and until it's sorted, until this Pope faces up to what he's done, it's a pretty big thing.
You can do all the charity work, you can save someone from a fire, you can help people out, you can bring spiritual guidance, you can bring a community a sense of belonging and a sense of spirit, but you fuck one kid...