Contribution by Dennis Solomon towards the TT Humanist statement
I disagree strongly that we should praise the Catholic Church as a historical centre of knowledge and learning. The Catholic Church exists, and has always existed, to conceal truth and distort reason. Open-mindedness is one thing, but we should not compromise our basic beliefs to avoid giving offence.
I also disagree strongly that Catholic theology is based on faith and reason. No theology is based on reason (or, to put it another way, reason applied to false axioms is worse than no reason at all). Furthermore, "faith" is an essentially meaningless word. By using it in this context we are committing the error of endowing it with a positive meaning. What Catholics call "faith" is precisely what rationalists condemn - i.e. groundless acceptance of nonsense.
If we are to make a statement I think this text must be severely recast. Remove all favourable references to Catholicism and the Catholic Church. Taking the existence of the Church (reluctantly) for granted, we should concentrate on John Paul's personal human qualities iincluding, if we must, the courage of his convictions, but show how those convictions and that steadfastness has inevitably led to the ills in the "minus side of the ledger". Although it would be unrealistic to assume or even hope that Catholicism will disappear, we must also avoid implying that another Pope of less conservative or authoritarian stamp would have done any better. The problem is in religion, not in John Paul II.
See: Philosophy, Ethics, Religion A selection of published articles by Denis Solomon
Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association www.humanist.org.tt/humanist/forum/feedback