Thursday, September 16, 2010
Apparently, Benedict internalized the values that he encountered during his brief participation in the Hitler Youth than has ever been publicly acknowledged. Within the British context, and, perhaps, to a lesser degree in the American one as well, multiculturalism is primarily identified with the social acceptance of Muslims. His condescending remarks about the cultural diversity of British society, as well as those of his advisor, Cardinal Kasper, are thinly concealed expressions of racism and Islamophobia. They are providing spiritual sanction for those in Europe and the US who perceive Muslims as a threat that must be denied the civil liberties granted to the rest of the populace. Beyond this, Benedict and Kasper are suggesting that Europe has been spiritually degraded by the immigration of non-whites from around the world in recent decades. As Benedict ages, and becomes even more cantankerous, we can anticipate even more baldly bigoted statements from him.
In a speech at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the pope also praised Britain for its role in fighting Nazi Germany and forging the postwar consensus, but warned again of the dangers of what he termed aggressive secularism.
The pope said that even in his own lifetime, Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live.
Driving home a point that is expected to be central to his four-day visit, Benedict went on: As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a 'reductive vision of the person and his destiny'.
The quote was from his own encyclical on social and economic issues, Caritas in Veritate, published last year.
In what might be regarded as a less than warm endorsement, the pope noted that the UK strove to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate. Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms.
His choice of words echoes controversial comments made yesterday by a senior Vatican adviser who claimed Britain discriminated against Christians, and likened arriving in multicultural Britain to visiting a third-world country.
Benedict's remarks about aggressive secularism should be equally alarming. In them, we see echoes of the Nazi condemnation of the Weimar Republic. Nazis described the republic as a cesspool of decadence, fouled by the activities of avant garde artists, Jews, Communists and sexual deviants. He perceives similar perils in atheism, feminism, publicly accepted homosexuality and, in substitution of Judaism, Islam. His Freudian slip of exhorting Britain to fight secularism with the zeal that it displayed against the Nazis makes the association explicit. Of course, the notion that there has been an exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life is preposterous, yet another example of how some intolerant Christians describe themselves as victims of oppression if not permitted to impose social norms on everyone else.