You are on page 1of 4

Not The Official Papal Souvenir Some funny and some not so funny aspects of the church industry

. Edited by Rolf Heimann.

An open letter to the pope. On behalf of a number of humanists, we wish to express the following concerns about the visit of the head of the Catholic hierarchy, Karol Wojtyla, now Pope John Paul II. We do not oppose this visit to Australia but feel that the cost of the visit, which is very considerable, should be more limited in its burden on the taxpayer. The cost should be almost entirely borne by the Vatican itself and the Catholic Church in Australia. It is recognised that the Pope is a titular head of state and entitled to diplomatic courtesies but transport costs within Australia should not be at government expense. This applies particularly to the 'Popemobiles' and the great costs of transporting these vehicles. Security for the Pope is important and should be Australia's responsibility but not at the overall cost of millions of dollars. Twelve million dollars at least has been quoted; four million may be raised by the Church. Where will the rest come from if not from the taxpayer? Why is the government so silent, particularly in present economic circumstances? Of the greatest concern however is the expected propagation during the Pope's visit through his speeches, of doctrinaire, intolerant, repressive views which are not even shared by a great proportion of Catholics. These are the reactionary views on divorce, contraception, abortion, censorship and sexual behavior; fertility control and personal freedom and tolerance generally. During the Pope's visit to Africa statements were repeatedly made against contraception and effective family planning. "Be fruitful and multiply" was the message in a continent beset by severe economic difficulties, by hostilities, by food shortages and starvation, by population pressures in many regions and by high child and maternal mortality. There are such high birth rates in a number of African countries that economic and social infrastructures cannot keep pace. The pressure on the environment has already had disastrous effects. The statements were pure hypocrisy based on doctrinaire blindness. It needs to be pointed out that the Vatican has not been free from moral and financial corruption, with recent financial scandals well documented. It has been morally corrupt in its dealings with dictatorships, in support of totalitarian regimes, of oppression, of censorship and of intolerance. The Papacy's advocacy for peace and development must be regarded as hypocricy in view of the hierarchy's above divisive positions and pronouncements. This is in marked contrast to the attitudes of a number of progressive and liberal Catholics who are then condemned by the Vatican. We respect some Church leaders such as those in Central America and the Philippines who are active in social reform, who would wish to influence the Vatican's regressive stance but who in turn are slated and disparaged by Rome. The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace also does admirable work often against hierarchy opposition. Decent Catholics do not wish to impose their beliefs on others but the Papacy does. Very many Catholics do not even share the official intolerance on divorce and fertility issues. Reform is needed in the hierarchy if there is to be any credibility. There is no sign of reformist attitudes in this Pope. Perhaps this visit, if all the issues are brought out in the open and constructive criticism is encouraged, may, after all, do some good. A t-shirt souvenir of this visit, for commercial sale, asks "Is the Pope a Catholic?" Is he, in a real, responsible, human sense? Or is he merely a front man and propagandist for an oppressive, intolerant and often corrupt Vatican, concerned mainly with wealth, power and opulence. Many Catholic Church leaders, particularly in the developing world have credibility, social responsibility and compassion. We believe that the credibility of Pope John Paul II and the Vatican in these areas are more than suspect - they are of a very low order. A group of concerned Australian humanists.

was produced by The Holy Ghost Busters, c/o P.O. Box 1555 P, Melbourne 3001 in honour of the visit by our Holy Father John Paul II, in November 1986. It was edited by Rolf Heimann. Typesetting was by "Access". Many thanks to the contributors Phillip Adams; Thomas, Richard and Harriett Anon; Lofo; Madalyn O'Hair; Neill Overton; Keith Rex; John Shakespeare; Michael Sharkey; lain Stock; Peter Viska and others who gave encouragement and inspiration, or whose ideas we borrowed when it was impossible to ask permission. ISBN 0 9595827

Australians are extremely fortunate this year to have been chosen as hosts to Our Holy Father John Paul II, son of a humble Polish Army man and now no less than the earthly representative of God Almighty, the creator of almost everything. The importance of the Holy Visitation cannot be underestimated, for it comes at a time when three quarters of Roman Catholics (not to mention others) consider Our Holy Father's attitude on matters like birth control as out of step with today's world. Organisers hope that the event will help Australians to understand that the Papacy is as alive and concerned about its world as it ever was. Just what are these concerns? How did the Holy Office become such a colourful institution? How can you personally contribute to a revitalisation of the values that are dear to the heart of Our Holy Father? Is it worth the trouble? Are you a Christian at all? We hope that this little booklet will help you to open your eyes. Brother Lofus Order of the Immaculate Contraception