Monday, 12 May 2014

Obscenities Of Sorrento - Church of St. Anthony

Tucked away in a small piazza alongside a busy road through beautiful Sorrento at the end of the Sorrentine Peninsula, south of Naples, Italy, you can find the Basilica di Sant'Antonino or the Church of St. Anthony. The inside is a tribute to the skilled craftspeople who made the marble inlay, much of it looted from surrounding villas of the Roman Imperial era, and the wooden marquetry which is used to decorate the 'Stations of the Cross' all round the walls and other features throughout the church.

And central to it all is that hideous depiction of a blood sacrifice of an innocent person that is somehow supposed to have given everyone who believes it absolution for something they didn't do either, turning the whole thing into a shrine to morbidly paranoid theophobia.

All along the sides of the main body of the church are shrines to various saints together with the traditional candles of various sizes and prices, and the money box for superstitious people to put their money in, apparently in the belief that if you give the church some money and light a candle, the saint will smile favourably on you and ask God to grant your wishes. Apparently, the smoke from the candle carries your thoughts up to Heaven where they don't seem to have invented emails, faxes or Facebook pages yet.

One of these shrines is dedicated to the newly canonised Karol Józef Wojtyła who, as Pope John Paul II put ex-Nazi Cardinal Ratzinger, later his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, in charge of covering up the world-wide scandal of systematic child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and nuns. It is not clear which unfortunate saint was ousted from his or her shrine to make room for the Catholic Church's frantic attempt to persuade world opinion that Wojtyła was far too holy to have knowingly allowed these abuses to continue, or of seeing the problem in terms of the potential damage it could do to the church's income streams moral authority of the church, rather than the damage it could do to those abused and bullied into silence and persecuted when they broke the Vatican's code of omerta.

Italy is a poor country as witnessed by it's poor roads, dirty, litter-strewn cities like Naples, appalling housing in over-crowded, rat and cockroach-infested tenements, and a shocking disregard for health and safety for either the workers or the public, and yet the Catholic Church can apparently afford to build, maintain and enrich churches like the Basilica di Sant'Antonino and stock it with valuable gold and silver ornaments, crystal chandeliers and art treasures with the money it hoovers up from the poor people of the world on a daily basis. This is an obscene display of wealth, power and abused authority; of conspicuous, flamboyant and arrogant consumption in the face of poverty.

Such a thing could only be tolerated by a superstitious people who are constantly reminded that any criticism of the Catholic Church or any daring to question it's dogmas, teaching and practices, no matter how grotesquely immoral, of it's clerics, will certainly be met with the most grotesque of eternal tortures with no hope of relief. The Vatican has a direct line to God and what the Pope says goes, just as much in heaven as on Earth. Like any other mobster protection racketeer, even a hint of dissent and disloyalty absolutely cannot and will not be tolerated.

As Stephen Fry said when debating the proposition that the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world:

Do you know who would be the last person ever to be accepted as a prince of the [Catholic] Church? The Galilean carpenter. That Jew. They would kick him out before he tried to cross the threshold. He would be so ill-at-ease in the Church... What would he think, what would he think of St. Peter’s? What would he think of the wealth, and the power, and the self-justification, and the wheedling apologies? ... The Pope could decide that all this power, all this wealth, this hierarchy of princes and bishops and archbishops and priests and monks and nuns could be sent out in the world with money and art treasures, to put them back in the countries that they once raped and violated, ... they could give that money away, and they could concentrate on the apparent essence of their belief, and then, I would stand here and say the Catholic Church may well be a force for good in the world, but until that day, it is not. Thank you.

No wonder the Catholic Church is haemorrhaging members and even in devoutly Catholic countries like Italy and Spain, where similar obscenities can be seen in every town and village, people are coming over to rationalist Humanism partly in disgust at the flagrant immorality of the Christian Church and those who use it for their own self-aggrandisement and as an excuse for claiming an undeserved power and authority the better to abuse it for their own ends.

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  1. This powerful organisation did not get to be so by worrying about the shame of sinfulness as inflicted upon its followers. What annoys me most is the support our UK establishment is offering the papacy.

  2. Well if you are to go after the Catholic Church, then be fair and equal in scorn, and go after other religions across the world, what about Islam??? What about Christians> Most all religions have this idea of helping people in need - and just because many Catholics decide in one manner or another to support these churches doesn't make the worst of the worst. Poverty has many avenues, and one religion alone is not its cause or the answer to the problems that exist. Leaving out the Catholic church for moment, you then to widen the net to all citizens, ask them to support poverty, helping those in need. And what have you done? Let's start being honest, the Catholic church does much charity across the world, but to suggest they are to blame because the church has silver, etc., seems a bit of scorn biasness. Could they do more, sure they could. But so could other faiths, and many religions do a lot, along with ordinary people and NGO's. But throwing money and food at situation doesn't mean you change behaviors, it may help get people in treatment programs or housing - but to some extent personal choices have to change, (not withstanding many who are ill and old or disabled) and those choices have to come from all parts of society. Throwing disdain at the church doesn't mean they are responsible for what is happening, and they alone can't change these issues.

    1. So far as I know, no Muslims were involved in the construction of the Church of St Anthony in Sorrento, Italy, or it's adornment with treasures. Do you have information to the contrary, please?


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