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

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Russell Brand joins residents and supporters from the New Era housing estate in East London as they deliver a petition to 10 Downing Street  

With Russell Brand and the public on our side, this is how I helped my family and countless others from being evicted this Christmas

Lindsey Garrett
Should parents be allowed to take pictures at nativity plays?  

Ghosts of Christmas past: What effect could posting pictures of nativity plays have on the next generation?

Ellen E Jones
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick