OK then, seeing as you were all teasing me in my comments box, here are my considered views (as opposed to the ill-considered ranty ones you would have got if I'd written this a week ago).
I was brought up as a Catholic. I'd like to say I was born into the faith, seeing as my parents were both observant Catholics at the time, but the church doesn't allow that, newborn babies being full of sin and evil as far as they are concerned. Needless to say, I'm not a Catholic any more - I parted company with the church in my early teens, and tried a couple of other religious/spiritual identities before settling down as mostly atheist with a side order of agnostic.
I have no quarrel with any individual Catholics - or individuals of any faith, come to that. Some of my family are Catholics, and I have friends of many faiths and none. I would never deny anyone the right to the happiness and comfort that faith can bring. However, I abhor many of the Catholic church's policies, such as those on women, gay people, condoms, and secrecy.
The Pope is not just an individual Catholic, he is the head of the church and its abhorrent policies. I have no objection to him coming to England - he is the spiritual leader of some of the people on this island, and they have every right to a visit from him. Also, I'm entirely in favour of freedom of speech. I do object to an expensive state visit. We don't extend this privilege to other heads of religious bodies, so I don't see why we should for the Pope.
I wish the Pope hadn't chosen atheists as the current enemy of the church. The whole atheists = Nazis thing has been covered extensively, so I'm not going to bang on about that. What worries me is that it seems the Catholic church always needs an enemy: infidels, Jews, Muslims, witches, Protestants, Communists, the list goes on. Just this month an official Catholic blogger was writing about 'the enemies of the Pope' and 'the enemies of the State'. Perhaps I have no right to say this, not being a Christian myself any more, but it doesn't seem very Christian to me to declare enmity on whole swathes of the population.
(Which reminds me of the Milton Jones gag I caught on TV the other night, which went something like this: A man at a festival sees a stall, run by Christians, giving away burgers.
Festival-goer: Can I have a burger please?
Stall-holder: Are you a Christian?
Festival-goer: Do you have to be a Christian to get a burger?
Festival-goer: How Christian is that?)
The official atheists aren't helping by embracing the position of enemy. I'm no great admirer of Richard Dawkins, and he made me really cross when he described the Pope as 'an enemy of humanity'.
So much of this seems so knee-jerk and un-thought-through. Which, of course, is one of the Catholic church's specialities. The church doesn't want its adherents to think about things, it wants them to follow its rules. Sadly, this also seems to apply more and more to the state we live in, at least if our education system is anything to go by (and this isn't a lone view: for example, the Society of Authors is so worried about the extent to which children in schools are taught by rote and procedure these days, that they are preparing to engage with the Secretary of State to advocate that children should once again be taught to think for themselves).
The media, of course, has a key role in all this. And they do think. Oh yes, they do. They think about how to sell newspapers, increase viewing/listening figures, and attract more advertisers. Fat lot of help that is. Yes, there are some excellent journalists and broadcasters, and at least we've still got a BBC which is independent of some influences. But most of our media is commercial, and commerce is its primary driver.
I am noticing more and more discontinuity between the messages from organisations which claim to speak for people, and my own experience of life in our society. I've blogged about this before in relation to the Government. It also applies to messages from religious organisations. It's not only the Pope who is positioning atheists as the enemy: the Archbishop of Canterbury was quite happy to join him there. Yet I'm getting on with my family and friends, of Christian and other faiths, as well as I ever have. I don't feel like anyone's enemy; do any of you feel like mine? Or anyone else's?
I'm not sure what is going on here, but I am sure I'm going to go on thinking about it, and that we all need to form our own views, discuss them with others, refine them and think again. And really, however unsatisfied I feel at times with the pronouncements of political and religious leaders and with their official policies, the good news is that I live in a part of the world where I can express my views without fear of repercussions in the name of religion or the state. That makes me very lucky.