Here is what Peter Tatchell has to say about the Vatican:
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE VATICAN
This tiny State inhabited mainly by priests is extremely powerful and its "moral" crusades adversely affect the lives of millions of people in Europe and in the world.
Officially part of the UN, its "observer-state" status means it engages in UN debates on a variety of issues ranging from favourites, such as birth control, abortion and homosexuality, to the environment, war and global trade.
The Vatican has diplomatic relationships with almost all the Countries in the world (174 when John Paul II died) and in many EU countries they benefit from the support of Catholic politicians or in many cases of Christian political parties. Of the 27 countries of the European Union, 14 are bound to the Vatican by at least one treaty. No other religion has such a power in Europe and in the World, thus prompting the Economist to publish an investigation about the diplomatic service of the Vatican, questioning whether it deserves its special status in the UN (21/07/2007)
The Catholic Church is an extremely profitable business. They own businesses such as hotels, restaurants, shops and private schools and they DON’T pay any tax! On top of this, the Vatican receives public money in many countries: in Italy about 1000 million Euros from taxes is destined to the Vatican every year (930 millions € in 2006 ).
The Vatican wields considerable political and economic power. It uses its influence and privilege to impose an agenda on a variety of issues that affect our lives as European citizens, and limit our civil rights and our civil liberties.
THE POPE'S VIEWS ON WOMEN AND LGBT PEOPLE
The issue of women's rights and the Catholic Church goes way beyond the hierarchy of the church, where women are unable to ascend to priesthood as a result of their gender. Women who have had a divorce, women who want to have an abortion and women who are living as single parents in catholic countries are often victims of intimidation and discrimination. The Pope encourages us to view women as unequal to men, by consistently and publicly stating that the two genders are naturally different and that women are naturally inclined for domestic living. In some catholic countries, like Ireland and Poland, abortion is illegal. In others, like Italy, the right to an abortion is constantly under threat from the Vatican's pressure on the Government.
The Pope thinks being gay is an "objective disorder" and a "moral evil". In many countries in the world you can still get the death penalty for being gay. A proposal to de-criminalise homosexuality was opposed by the Vatican in the UN because it would mean that States where same-sex unions are not recognized would be discriminated against and unfairly subjected to international pressure.
WHY SHOULD IT MATTER TO PEOPLE IN THE UK
This is certainly a global issue, but it also directly affects people living in the UK. This country is regarded by many as fairly "secular" but in reality, Christianity remains strongly embedded in many British Institutions and continues to enjoy unfair religious privilege.
Although a limited right to abortion has been granted to women living in England, Scotland and Wales since 1967, in Northern Ireland it remains illegal. This anomaly is significantly due to religious influence. Christian lobbies are engaged in continual efforts to restrict a woman's right to abortion and have succeeded in reducing the time limit for an abortion in Great Britain from 28 to 24 weeks.
Religion retains undue influence and power in various ways. With increasing numbers of state funded faith schools (1 in 3 of all schools in the UK is either Catholic or Church of England), they continue to exercise a strong influence on young people.
With public opinion distracted over the proposal to refer to the Christian roots of Europe they made sure that the proposed EU Constitution – and now the approved Lisbon Treaty (article 16C) - dangerously commits the European Union to "an open, transparent and regular dialogue with Churches and religious organisations".
PROTESTING AGAINST THE STATE VISIT OF THE POPE IN THE UK
The reactionary head of the Catholic Church is to be accorded a state visit to Britain next September: Joseph Ratzinger will meet the Queen and speak in both Houses of Parliament. The whole visit will have the full panoply of a visiting head of state.
We should not forget that his 'teachings' have resulted in the banning of condoms in developing countries where HIV is decimating the populations. He encourages population growth in places where starvation is common. He persecutes homosexuals, treats women as second class citizens, has colluded in the large-scale cover up of child abuse. His Church interferes illegitimately in politics and undermines democracy. It siphons huge amounts of money out of poverty-stricken economies.
We should firmly reject honouring the head of a Church with a lavish state reception in the UK.
WE DEMAND A SECULAR EUROPE
The state should be neutral in matter of religion or belief.
The beliefs of any group may not be used to limit the rights of others.
We affirm the common values of the people of Europe as expressed in the Brussels Declaration.
We need to protect democracy and to champion human rights against those who wish to retain undemocratic influence and privilege.
This event is organized by the Central London Humanist Group in partnership with the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, One Law for All, the Gay And Lesbian Humanist Association, the Rationalist Association and Peter Tatchell's OutRage!
Go to http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=415005340443 to RSVP and join in the “welcoming committee” for the Pope!
Here is what Andy Thayer has to say about Cardinal George:
“In contrast to the church laity, who holds a variety of views on gays – pro-equality and anti-equality – the leadership of the Catholic Church has been unified in its opposition to equal rights.
This is not just about the equal right to marry. In Illinois, Cardinal George and his predecessors over the years have worked behind the scenes to vehemently oppose EVERY piece of equal rights legislation for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender (LGBT) people that has ever been proposed, including opposing:
-- equal employment rights
-- equal access to housing
-- equal access to public accommodations
-- equal access to adoption.
And they haven’t been above playing hardball to get their way:
* The church leadership recently threatened to torpedo support for Congressman Luis Guiterrez’s immigration law bill if it included any consideration for LGBT people
* In Washington, DC, the church leadership threatened remove support for the homeless there if the District upheld its equal marriage rights bill.
On Freedom-to-Marry Day 2010 – aka, Valentine’s Day – we will drag the Church leadership’s bigotry out into the open for all the see with a picket of Cardinal George at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral, 735 N State Street at 10:30 AM. For more information go to www.GayLiberation.net or email LGBTliberation@aol.com. Please join the Facebook Event for the action, http://www.facebook.com/event.php?invites&eid=281885059470, and invite others!”
I will be at Holy Name Cathedral with my fellow members of Gay Liberation Network picketing the evil Cardinal George on February 14th. Where will you be?