Our old friend Advocatus Diaboli has been grumbling away, but I have managed to persuade him to keep quiet. I can’t do that forever, and it would be cowardly of us not to face up to his points. So I post his latest complaints below, for you to look at – and, I hope, to set him right. I have numbered them for reference.
I go, and then I come back. But it stays the same, doesn’t it. Ok, I don’t want to be boringly repetitive, but you really do try my patience.
1) Perhaps the oddest issue is the row about the incantations you use at your services. I don’t know why you wanted to alter them all, but you have. And the result is that half of you are in a tizzy about this word or that – as if it mattered a light in a world where people starve and kill each other on a daily basis. You should get real. And I see that one Catholic publisher has got the sales rights for all the new books that have to be produced. Creating an artificial monopoly is a real money-spinner for someone. But it has nothing to do with the justice you all talk about. Anyhow, shouldn’t your Church provide them free – on an exchange basis? It was they who demanded the change in the texts, why should you pay? I should think just one Raphael out of the Vatican would do it – with change to spare.
2) There’s an equally odd fuss about transport for getting your children to your special faith schools (those of you who don’t have Chelsea tractors, of course). If you choose to send them there, then you pay to get them there. The truly needy get help by law anyhow. We are living in times when everyone has to bite the bullet. Real wages are down, benefits are down, so council services are down. And the first council service to go should be the discriminatory subsidy for faith schools. And it should never come back.
3) I see your sex scandals go on and on. Now it’s a big Catholic school, an abbey. Your priests seem to think that faith education is best done in a bedroom, with trousers down. And don’t you run to close ranks before anyone finds out! Mustn’t have scandal, must we? Meanwhile, you continue your strange custom of not allowing your priests to get married. (Unless, of course they’re ex-heretics; you’ll break all the rules to poach.) So you’re either going to get applicants who are a bit odd about women in the first place, or discover later that they can’t keep their urges down – and they’re beautifully placed to satisfy them. All right, I know you tell them that they’re naughty boys. But you can’t get out of it that way – it’s the system, stupid. Not just bad apples but a bad barrel.
4) And one final thing that has happened since I wrote last. You may put up a good case for condoms not helping with epidemic Aids, but what have you done about married couples? If one is infected either you can say that it’s OK to use condoms for protection, or you can say that it’s much better to infect your partner than to wickedly protect them, or you can admit that you simply can’t make up your mind. As far as I can see, you daren’t say the first because of the publicity; you can’t say the second because it drives a coach and horses through your strange “natural law” principles; and you can’t say the third because that’s equivalent to saying that it’s OK, at least until you can think of a reason why it isn’t. I guess you’re hoping that with increased effective medicine it will all go away. Meanwhile a number of your all too faithful servants will have gone away to their graves. If this isn’t a dereliction of duty for an organisation which claims divine inspiration for its moral teaching, I’d like to know what is. (And don’t tell me that your Church is busting a gut providing medicines for the sick in Africa. Maybe they are, but how would that justify a single unnecessary death caused by fundamentalist moral teaching?)
Your friend Advocatus Diaboli