I guess it
depends which side of the debate you stand on but “I for one
believe the comments by George Pell were repugnant and would be
rejected by fair minded Australians”. If John Howard said that I
guess, again, that a furore would have broken out but John
George Pell and
Perth Catholic Bishop Barry Hickey’s latest foray into politics
are not really surprising and it must have been a slow news day
in order for them to get such wide coverage.
They, like Tony
Abbott and I would presume John Howard, Peter Costello and many
other fundamentalists, believe that when god created the
universe he set it in motion like a huge galactic clock. It
ticks away with minute precision, is slowly winding down to an
‘end time’ and there is nothing humans can do to alter the
movements of the hands.
galactic clock theory serves the fundamentalists well. It allows
them to claim some sort of ‘divine’ knowledge that they, and
they alone, are privy to. Having this knowledge allows them
insights into the ‘mind’ of god. These insights mean that,
should they speak them, they will be ridiculed and persecuted
thus confirming their ‘special’ place in the great cosmic plan.
When it comes to
the issue of stem cells and the comments by Pell and Hickey,
that men and women of faith would be denied by their church the
right to take part fully in that faith community’s practices,
should they choose to vote in favour of this type of medicine,
demonstrates, as NSW parliamentarian, Nathan Rees said, that
Pell and Hickey are in the same league as that other religious
‘crazy’ Sheikh Hilali.
The comments by
the defenders of the Catholic faith are reminiscent of the types
of claims made during the period of the Inquisitions. During
these times men and women were killed by the church because they
chose to dissent. The motivating factor that drove the zealots
to unspeakable cruelties was that they wanted to hold on to
power so badly they were able to justify the most atrocious evil
by claiming they were doing ‘god’s’ work. No doubt Pell and
Hickey feel the same.
On Tuesday night
in one of the news services I saw, one person interviewed was
claiming that if stem cell research was given the go ahead, then
humans would be cross bred with fish. That’s old news for us DC
comic fans. Aquaman has been around since 1940s. But this is not
The real issue
here is one in which big business and the church are competing
for the same territory. That is, both want our exclusive
allegiance and at present, the church, or more precisely, some
parts of the church, don’t want to share us.
On the church
side is the argument that the universe is a scary place made bad
by ‘original sin’ and that there are wonders that only god and a
few ‘select’ wise and knowledgeable men can comprehend. These
wonders were set in place at the start of time and there is
nothing human’s can do to change them. So, if you are healthy,
wealthy and powerful then that is what god has ordained for you.
If you are poor, disabled, sick or deformed, then that too, is
as god wanted it to be.
In defence of
their extreme views men like Pell, Hickey, Howard, Abbott and
Costello would argue that the reason they are in positions of
power is because that is what ‘god’ wanted. In order to ensure
‘god’s’ will is done they would rather see people suffer than
admit their own sins.
On the business
side the multinational biomedical companies such as BioE, Aruna
Biomedical, Kamiya and Scottish Biomedical are set to make
billions out of stem cell derivatives. The business of
unravelling the way the human body works has been big business
for hundreds of years and this where the collision between the
church and the state takes place.
In order to the
churchmen to hold on to power they must mystify and obscure the
truth. As ‘high priests’ of the ‘mind of god’ they believe they
and they alone have the power to decree who should live or die,
suffer or rejoice, be ‘in’ or be ‘out’. Anything that challenges
this is seen as the ‘devil’s’ work. Their prime strategy when
they feel threatened is to turn to our base emotions and the
main target is our fears.
allow mammon to flow to the multinationals than into their own
coffers, these men of ‘faith’ will use any tactic they think
will set fear in the hearts of those they rule over. In the case
of Pell and Hickey, the threat of loss of communion is the
highest threat they could utter. This punishment is, within the
Catholic faith, the outcome of some “grievously offensive act.”
For a Catholic,
the loss of the ability to partake in the ‘blood and body’ of
Christ is akin to being cut off from your being and the promise
of life after death so Pell and Hickey’s threat is not an idle
one. Furthermore, you may recall that Pell refuses to give
communion to those who identify as gay. Can you imagine an
upstanding man or woman in politics wanting to be equated with
the gay community? A quick look at the few who have demonstrates
No, this battle
is not about stem cells although our blinkered media choose to
portray it this way. The real battle is over power, influence
and the billions of dollars involved in either keeping people in
ignorance or helping them get better.
fundamentalists, no matter what label they wear – Catholic,
Protestant, Jew, Muslim or Hindu – are all basically the same.
They believe they have a pre-ordained position in the cosmic
clock and any threat to their own self important image is to be
resisted with ‘holy’ vigour.
The fact that
Pell said what he said should not come as any shock. Nor should
the reaction by his great defender in the federal parliament,
Tony Abbott. The silence of John Howard on the issue should not
surprise us either. What is surprising is the response by so
many other politicians who identify with the Catholic faith.
There have been strong condemnations across the country as
politicians of the Catholic faith condemn Pell and Hickey’s
foray into their territory.
I guess it
depends on which side of the debate you are on how you respond
to the outrageous claims by Pell and Hickey. However, as a
secular society, one in which our leaders continually remind us
that we do not live in a country ruled by Mullah’s, we are bound
to reject Pell and Hickey’s claims to ‘divine’ insight. As fair
minded Australians we should stand with our Catholic brothers
and sisters who also reject the imposition of the ego of a few
over the potential for the many. We should, with them, condemn
the rantings of the madmen who believe they and they alone, know
what is best for us.