Easter eggs and ostriches

The Good Friday sermons of Australian bishops including hardline Cardinal George Pell have set the tone for a weekend of denial, obfuscation and scapegoating that is likely to characterise the Easter sermons of priests around the world. Watch them squirm and dodge and bury their pointy heads in the sand rather than deal with the child abuse crisis like responsible adults.

In his Good Friday address, Anthony Fisher, the bishop for Parramatta in Sydney’s west, said: “Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating. Nazism, Stalinism, Pol-Pottery, mass murder, abortion and broken relationships: all promoted by state-imposed atheism or culture-insinuated secularism, the illusion that we can build a better life without God”.

Sydney’s Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen also attacked atheists: “As we can see by the sheer passion and virulence of the atheist — they seem to hate the Christian God — we are not dealing here with cool philosophy up against faith without a brain”.

No, what we are dealing with here is cool paedophilia and institutionalised child abuse by revolting men in positions of social privilege, men who hold themselves to be above the law and the standards of moral decency that most atheists abide by without the threat of hellfire to pull them into line.

We’re building up to the most important Easter address by a pope in centuries but this is what we get from the clowns in Sydney – moronic attacks on athiests and even secularists,  no doubt fuelled by their anger at the success of the recent athiest conference in Melbourne and Richard Dawkins’s sellout lecture tour Down Under. If Fisher seriously opposes Australia’s secular constitution and has plans for a theocracy, let’s hear it.

Athiests rolled out the classic response, one so well-worn and predictable, and utterly convincing, that it is amazing that a supposedly thoughtful man like Fisher could be so ignorant and crass.

Atheist Foundation president David Nicholls told the ABC: “We’re not forcing anything on anybody. Hitler, who was a Catholic, forced Nazism onto the German population. Stalin forced his ideology onto the population. They didn’t do any of these things in the name of atheism, in fact Stalin was trained in a seminary.”

Given the Easter comments by Rev Raniero Cantalamessa at St Peter’s comparing the abuse scandal to anti-semitism, anything is possible this weekend. I just can’t wait to see Ratzinger screw it all up with an Easter sermon on Sunday that demonstrates (again) to the world his rank insensitivity and moral corruption.

Not everyone seems so willing to sweep the abuse under the rug, or to blame it on the media or atheists. Cardinal Pell acknowledged the abuse but suggested it was the work of a few bad apples. That’s not good enough. He could have followed the example of Bishop Noel Treanor in Belfast, who delivered a mass on Thursday in which he addressed the “inept management and cover-up by some bishops”. That would be a start.

Before they launch any more attacks on atheists this Easter, the leaders of Christianity might want to imagine how desperately pathetic they look to the outside world, so much so that even Dawkins was quoted in The Times as saying he has “mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse”.

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