Letters: The Pope

We're atheists, not Nazis

Share
Related Topics

I am writing to express my outrage at the Pope's Holyroodhouse speech in Edinburgh. This speech was a slander on modern Britain. I refer chiefly to the Pope's description of Nazi Germany and the British resistance, with its references to "how 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" and "the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the 20th century".

Hitler's political philosophy was not based upon atheism and had no connection with atheism. Hitler was nominally a Roman Catholic. He enjoyed the open support of many of the most senior Catholic clergy in Germany and his birthday was celebrated until his death by Vatican mandate.

Even if Hitler had been an atheist, the rank-and-file Germans who carried out the extirpation of the Jews were almost all Christians, primed to their anti-Semitism by centuries of Catholic propaganda about "Christ-killers" as well as by Martin Luther's seething hatred of Jews.

Britain's secular, not necessarily atheist, modern culture should be maintained, not slandered with veiled allegation of Nazism.

Thomas Stevenson

Goxhill, North Lincolnshire



As a former member of the Hitler Youth, Joseph Ratzinger must surely know it is not true that the Nazis "wished to eradicate God from society" in an act of "atheist extremism", as he puts it. As the words of Adolf Hitler himself attest: "I will never ally myself with the parties which aim to destroy Christianity ... We have ... undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."

Darren Hill

Sutton, Surrey



The Pope has spoken of "a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society".

Hitler, along with all other dictators in history, was not an atheist – he became the godhead. Dictators use all the mechanisms of religion: pervasive imagery of themselves; the special book (Mein Kampf, the Little Red Book); the abolition of churches to be replaced with the new "god".

The young Ratzinger saw this in person. He knows how it works, and should not be allowed to link honest atheists with despots.

Simon Allen

Watford, Hertfordshire



As an atheist, I should like to apologise to the Pope for the scourge of Nazism, for which I – along with my fellow hellbound unbelievers – seem somehow to have been responsible, notwithstanding Hitler's pronouncement that he had in fact stamped atheism out. We atheists are a tough bunch, so I suppose a little thing like that wasn't going to stop us championing evil.

While I'm at it, and just to be on the safe side, I'd also better apologise for the global paedophilia scandal and subsequent cover-up in the Catholic Church; the Spanish Inquisition; the persecution of Galileo for being right about the solar system; the brutality of the Magdalene laundries; and the spread of misinformation about condoms and HIV, all of which are probably down to me as well.

Mike Lim

Bolton, Greater Manchester



Can anyone explain to me why it is OK for the Pope to liken my code of beliefs to Nazism, but if I pass any comment on the teachings and practices of his church, he brands me as an "aggressive atheist"?

I would think that any fair-minded person, regardless of their beliefs, would conclude that it is not me who is the aggressor.

Bill Finch

Crawley, west sussex



I am pleased that the Pope has highlighted what he calls "aggressive forms of secularism". In this part of the world it's a constant nuisance. Many times during the week we are interrupted by atheists knocking on our door to inquire as to our beliefs.

Simon Gosden

Rayleigh, Essex



As a Catholic reader of The Independent, I cannot afford to be over-sensitive. As a priest, I can fully share in your stringent indictment of the Church on its mishandling of paedophilia. I can appreciate the forceful criticism of the Pope by Johann Hari. I can even raise a wry smile at the provocations of Julie Burchill. But I cannot stomach gratuitous offence.

When I saw the cartoon you printed on the morning of the Pope's arrival in the UK, I began to wonder why, if you felt your criticisms of the Pope and the Church were so well-founded and well argued, you saw the need to resort to crude ill-manners.

This head of state is here as a guest because our head of state, through her prime minister, invited him. Does that not suggest a measure of common courtesy from us all, whatever our opinions?

Fr Terence A Carr

Prestatyn, Denbighshire



I am among those who object to the whole concept of a state visit for a religious leader, but it is happening and all we can hope is that there will be no repeat performance.

However, since the Pope is here as our guest it behoves him to respect the attendant courtesies, which include the avoidance of gratuitous insult to the host. He apparently sees no insult to those among us who don't share his faith in God when condemning us as "aggressive secularists" whose influence has to be stopped.

This is a state visit, not a crusade paid for by the Vatican, but he sees no distinction.

Paula Jones

London SW20



Some A-levels are easier



I have been teaching mathematics for nearly 20 years. The last five of these have been as a private tutor, which means I teach the specifications of every English exam board ("A sickness in our schools", 17 September). It is undoubtedly true that, for example, the OCR exam papers at A-level are harder than the ones set by Edexcel.

If you seek proof, simply sit down and work through the Core 1 question paper set by each. Though this will make me sound like a schoolboy myself, "everybody knows" that Edexcel is easier, which is why more schools take Edexcel maths than any other.

Paradoxically, however, the two exam boards give out roughly the same numbers of each grade. I don't know why this is. Perhaps the OCR examiners are easier markers. Perhaps students studying for the harder OCR exam rise to the greater challenge.

Or perhaps it's because of the calculations heads of mathematics make. If I were a head of maths at a comprehensive school, I would enter my candidates for Edexcel maths because the weaker members of my mixed-ability classes will get higher grades than they would under OCR. If I were a head of maths at a selective private school, I would enter my candidates for OCR because the bright students will still get A grades, but they will also be better prepared when they get to university.

Whether university admissions tutors are aware of these choices that heads of departments make – and of the consequent differences between applicants for their courses – I don't know.

Matthew Handy

York



Tax the rich – they can take it



Dominic Lawson ("Rich and poor agree on cutting taxes", 14 September) repeats the hoary old myth that the super-rich are too few to tax further to any purpose. Then he conjures up the more recent defence that the top 1 per cent of earners already contribute about 22 per cent of total income tax.

However, our rates for really high earners have been ridiculously low since Thatcher's reverse Robin Hood regime, especially when considering that most regressive of taxes, National Insurance. Furthermore, the super-rich pay accountants mini-fortunes to avoid contributing even these modest amounts and still they cough up 22 per cent of the total.

The explanation to this conundrum is in the hyper-inflated bubble of affluence in which Lawson's cherished 1 per cent have virtually floated free of our civil society. So over-remunerated are this group of by no means our brightest and best that there is plenty of fat to be cut here before taking even a penny from vital public services. Just to emphasise this, a recent study estimated that the 1,000 richest individuals in this country now had a combined wealth of £333.5bn (well over twice our current budget deficit), and they represent less than .004 per cent of the working population.

Steve Edwards

Haywards Heath, west Sussex



Insulting to women



I am disappointed that Terence Blacker's article (14 September), on the sorry Wayne Rooney affair, contained references to women as "tarts" and "floozies".

Prostitutes do, by Blacker's own admission, carry on a profession; if their profession is a necessary one and fuelled by male sexuality, it is hardly PC to label them "tarts".

But then, this is the old, dual mentality, isn't it? A man will go to a prostitute, get his short-lived satisfaction, and then use demeaning language to describe her, so that he's not the bad boy, she is a bad girl.

Also objectionable is the statement about a "night club floozy whose area of special interest is going to bed with famous footballers". Women have every right to sleep with whom they choose – or not. If footballers put themselves about among young women with healthy sexual appetites, why should these women be insulted by cheap epithets?

Susan Harr

Hull



Mad idea



If we seek to beatify a Newman (letter, 17 September) I can think of no better than Alfred E, a young man of open countenance and impeccable morals, and known the world over for his refusal to allow global strife to alter his aimless purpose in life. His motto, "What? Me worry?" is an inspiration to us all to chill.

Allan Friswell

Cowling, North Yorkshire



Princely joke



Inspired by the Scottish Conservative Leader's "hoots of laughter" in response to Prince Philip's question about her knickers (report, 17 September), I tried it on the next woman I met. In my case it was met with a broken nose and a visit to the magistrates' court. It must be the way he tells them.

Chris Barton

Stoke-on-Trent

Perspectives on unemployment

Jobs lost to factory robots



Hamish McRae's analysis (16 September) of "Why the EU has been unable to create jobs"', refers fleetingly to high productivity as one of the virtues contributing to the "triumph" of the European economy over the past half-century. But he neglects to point out that increased productivity, most obviously in manufacturing, is invariably accompanied by job losses. The greater the output per employee, the fewer employees are needed to achieve the same level of production.

Automation, a term spoken of a lot less than it was 30 or 40 years ago, but nevertheless ever more widely embraced, leads to redundancies. Robots have replaced a high percentage of the production-line workers employed by car manufacturers and similar manufacturing companies.

Those robots bring a host of benefits. They guarantee a standard of quality in the end product which could not previously have been assured. There are no rogue "Friday afternoon" cars today. Furthermore, production-line robots do not constantly agitate for pay increases, threatening to withdraw their labour if their demands are not met.

So even if the UK economy and those of our European "partners" were not struggling to get out of the recession of the past two years, unemployment would still, regrettably, be on the rise.

Alan Bunting

Harpenden, Hertfordshire

Tough times in the world free market



Vince Cable might like to rethink his opposition to caps on non-EU immigration. The benefit to British firms of unrestricted entry is marginal compared with the cost to UK society and the taxpayer.

The world free market in jobs – globalisation – is possibly the single greatest cause of the stubbornly high levels of unemployment in the USA and EU, highlighted by Hamish McRae. Furthermore, our workers have most to lose, being less mobile on account of poor language skills.

Dr Yen-Chung Chong

Brighton

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine