At the papal bier, new dogmas replace the old

Share

How the world turns. The sight of President George Bush - not to mention his father President George Bush Snr and his predecessor President Bill Clinton - kneeling in prayer before the body of the Pope would, not that long ago, have caused the most almighty stir back home. After all, the men are, respectively, a Methodist, Episcopalian and a Baptist - good Protestants whose dogma still, in theory, regards prayers for the dead as a heretical Catholic abomination along with transubstantiation, purgatory and other arcane matters for which, in the past, men and women were prepared to kill and die.

How the world turns. The sight of President George Bush - not to mention his father President George Bush Snr and his predecessor President Bill Clinton - kneeling in prayer before the body of the Pope would, not that long ago, have caused the most almighty stir back home. After all, the men are, respectively, a Methodist, Episcopalian and a Baptist - good Protestants whose dogma still, in theory, regards prayers for the dead as a heretical Catholic abomination along with transubstantiation, purgatory and other arcane matters for which, in the past, men and women were prepared to kill and die.

And not so long ago. Today, Mr Bush will become the first incumbent president to attend a pope's funeral to pay his respects to the man he called "Holy Father" - a phrase which will not have gone down well among fundamentalists in his Texas hinterland. Every dogma may have its day, but this is welcome evidence that the era of such sectarianism is passing. Having said that, the unhappy evidence is that they are being replaced by dogmas which may cross denominational fault-lines but which are no less oppressive in their own way.

What unites the evangelical fundamentalists of the US Bible Belt with their more intellectually sophisticated co-religionists in Rome is a credo about "life" issues which seeks to combine notions about contraception, abortion, stem cells and euthanasia into a single stream which subjects scientific empiricism to a religious straitjacket which does no service to the complexities of life in the 21st century. Playing, as it does, to America's 65 million Catholics and its 40 million evangelicals, it also handily provides a considerable constituency of support for Mr Bush.

The only pity is that he, and they all, did not treat everything the Pope said with equal moral seriousness. During their final meeting last June, when Mr Bush presented the Pope with the Medal of Freedom, the pontiff responded by reading a statement condemning the President's military adventures in Iraq. The truth is that John Paul II's pronouncements were embraced by many only when he said what they wanted to hear.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

** Secondary History Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Secondary Geography Teacher Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

£120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“You're running away!” Nick said to me the other night as I tried to leave the hospital  

In Sickness and in Health: ‘There’s nothing I want more than to have you at home, but you’re not well’

Rebecca Armstrong
 

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments