Pope Coming To America
Pope Benedict XVI is due to make three important State Visits, in 2007 -- a year which marks his 80th birthday:
The United States of America (announced but not confirmed as to exact date and locale)
Brazil (confirmed, to São Paulo, May 9-14)
Austria (confirmed, to Mariazell; also to Şibiu, Romania at the same time)
It's the Brazilian visit which intrigues me the most, despite the fact that I am overjoyed the Pontiff is coming to the US, sooner than later.
Carnival begins next weekend in Rio, and as you know, I love me some Rio-Carnaval.
But ahead of this dizzying date on the Brazilian calender of fun, comes word that the hardline stance of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the prohibition of condom use by its faithful, will remain in effect during the whole time.
I can see both sides, but for me, my duty as a Roman Catholic is clear. Why be a Catholic, if you will just flout its rules?
The whole argument of protection as sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church has, in any case, always struck me as a bit of a red herring.
Tell me, when has any rule regarding sexuality, ever really prevented people from doing what they will? Even in the narrowest of societies regarding sex, which pointedly, Brazil has never been.
People who want, no...more than that, DEMAND that the Roman Catholic Church relax or do away with its strictures regarding condom-use -- itself a smokescreen for a stance on outside-of-marriage-sex -- usually do not call themselves religious.
But it is THESE VERY PEOPLE who lead the cries of protest, as if they are seeking permission to do what they are going to do with or without approval anyway, merely wishing to bring the Catholic Church to its knees, doctrinally.
(Heck, I still avoid eating meat on Fridays. Mmm, fish and chips)
Just yesterday, Chancellor of the Exchequer and heir presumptive to 10 Downing Street, Gordon Brown, a vicar's son, extended a formal invitation to the Pope, to visit the UK at his earliest convenience.
The somewhat ponderous Mr. Brown also told the elderly, but affable German man, about his drive for vaccinations in Third World countries.
The Pope replied, "Almighty God will assist your endeavours to accomplish this important work", noting that he will pray for the families involved.
Maybe, who knows, the Pope will visit the UK, after his trip to Australia, the future site of World Youth Day in Sydney.
It's as good a primer as any, since Britain is almost without doubt in my mind, the home of the most a-religious people on the face of the earth.
The vast majority of my compatriots simply find religion, any religion, ridiculous.
In the words Evelyn Waugh put into the mouth of his anti-hero, Charles Ryder, in Brideshead Revisited, religion was "such a lot of witchcraft and hypocrisy".
(No doubt, it was this lack of regard and meaning, that propelled heaps of intellectuals, writers, and artists in Britain to convert to Catholicism, in a kind of desperate need to believe in SOMETHING outside of the Church of England's hopeless wafflings as to the importance of faith -- a lesson Brazilians themselves, would do well to remember)
So, let's hope the warmth and openness of the Australians, will serve to warm his cockles during his no-doubt frostier reception in England.
Of course, if Britain had a Catholic of the stature of Brazilian soccer god, Pélé, that might be different.
Somehow, I don't see bullish Manchester United and England star, Wayne Rooney, genuflecting in front of anyone, though he is an ex-altar boy and student of De La Salle School, in Liverpool.
Obviously, though, Britain is not itself a Roman Catholic country, whereas Brazil at least nominally, counts itself as 91% R.C.
You might know, though, that Brazil has been bleeding practioners of the faith, ever since the 1960s.
Already, many of its (mostly uneducated, black or white) citizens intertwined Catholicism with animist soi-disant religions such as macumba but also candomblé its gentler cousin, thus diluting the pull of the Church, even more.
Ironically, many Brazilians say that the laxness of Vatican II allowed the Catholic Church's power to wane, although there were other considerations as well.
Many saw the Church in Brazil as collusive with the military dictatorship, from 1964 to 1986, and historically, it was aligned to the elites much before that, as well.
This is also true of other South American countries, perhaps even moreso than in Brazil.
And since at least the 1990s, the rise of the charismatic Protestant/Pentacostal churches has garnered millions upon millions of converts.
Even more baffling is the fact that charismatic churches take a very hard line towards pre-marital sex, especially that of "camisinha" ("little shirt", as they humourously call condoms) prophylactic protection.
It doesn't make any sense, that if one Church is seen as weakened after Vatican II, and yet at the SAME TIME, inflexible about birth control, that people would suggest these self-same disillusioned, but also frustrated Catholics, would then rush headlong to the arms of even more stringent Christians.
This just goes to prove my point, that people who decry the Vatican's tough stance on these topics, are merely in it to foment trouble, perhaps then to give the Catholic Church in Brazil, and beyond, a death blow from which it cannot easily recover, IF AT ALL.
When confronted with this fact, the more cynical anti-Catholics pretend to be on the side of the Church, saying they are merely attempting to help to increase its numbers, if only the Pope would be more flexible with doctrine.
They intimate that then, with condom permission, with females ordained as priests, with greater permissiveness granted to premarital sex, perhaps all those good Brazilians would leave their charismatic churches, and return to the Catholic fold.
Right, because remind me how many practising and devout Protestants there are flocking to parish pews in Europe, where their churches are not as "strict" about these matters, as the Roman Catholic is?
Remind me what are the percentages of Roman Catholics versus Protestants being made, in regions such as Africa?
Remind me how many Protestant private schools sag with admission requests, versus Roman Catholic ones around the world?
And though all established Christian religions' priests, vicars, preachers, ministers have sunk in numbers in comparison to a mere 20 years ago, a condition which is of some worry to Catholics without a shadow of a doubt, it doesn't follow that if one religion's chastity policy is non-existent for its clergy, that there would be as much, if not more, of a fall in these vicar ordinations, in theirs.
To these people, I say, não obrigada.
You just want Catholics to be as lost, as dismissive, as non-practising, as the few remaining Protestants are, in the Old World.
We see your game, and we know there is much more at stake, than you just wanting to put some rubber on your willies during Carnival.
Ahh, carnival, though.
Such abandon! Such lascivious suggestive dances! Such lance-perfume fun!
What's a girl to do, but to submit to the will of the Sambodromo.
That's the only religion I practise during Carnival. Axé!
SEE VIDEO: This is a video from ABIA, the official educational AIDS department of Brazil, which ran on Brazilian television.
It shows three couples, a heterosexual one, a male homosexual one, and an elderly couple, who all are HIV positive, putting on condoms before their ardour gets the better of them.
NOTE: Not Safe For Workplace.
Can you in your wildest dreams, imagine this advert on US television?
But this is what the Roman Catholic Church in Brazil, is up against: cultural values represented by this frankness on sexuality, which are then projected into their television programmes.
To protest against this openness, and suggest -- as many religious organisations in Africa have successfully argued for, that the only true prevention for AIDS is abstinence, etc. -- is nearly hopeless, and thus the RC Church there, is defanged (read, discredited).
In due time, our Church will change its stance on condom-use, and this will be further proof to people that it is complete and utter nonsense, to follow the dictates of an illogical and yet still retrograde Church, scrambling to keep their membership up.
It's a no-win situation, all around.