Back to blogging after the family holiday:
Catching up on the news in the Sunday papers there seems to be some talk along the lines of 'we're an oppressed minority too' by English Catholics in anticipation of the Pope's visit this month. This not only doesn't wash - it also strikes me as pretty offensive to draw comparisons with Islamo-phobia or antisemitism. A distasteful sort of me-too-ism when there are real problems facing genuine minority groups.
Catholics in England - and I make the distinction here between England and Scotland or Northern Ireland where ascendant Presbyterian sectarianism has created a very different situation - haven't faced oppression for probably over a hundred years. To be a Catholic in England is now no more than a minor eccentricity with the added bonus of an education system that perpetuates your faith and is subsidised by the state. Any restrictions on marrying into the royal family and succession to the crown are archaic anomalies of our ludicrous pseudo constitution rather than a serious affront to any one's human rights. (In a historic context actually they are fairly understandable given the Church's uncanny knack of being on the wrong side of most political disputes in this country ever since Pope Innocent III excommunicated the rebel barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta and then declared the charter 'null and void').
As an ex-Catholic Atheist I can say all this without bitterness - I am not unduly damaged by my religious upbringing - it left me only with a possibly over developed since of 'duty' and guilt and gave me an education that was undeniably better than the equivalent non-faith state school up the road. I'd even argue that it is unfair that the first association in most people's minds with the Catholic Church is paedophilia - statistically I believe priests are no more likely to be abusers than many other groups: The real problem is a more fundamental and universal one that Catholicism simply propagates nonsense that is both dangerous and damaging to society and mankind as a whole.