Gentiles (or pagans) should be aware of misinterpreting the Pope’s allusion to the “Lord was sleeping” on his (the Pope’s) watch (your report, 28 February).
To a Christian this allusion obviously refers to the gospel passage of the disciples being in a fierce storm on the Sea of Galilee, while Jesus slept peacefully on the boat.
The unstated other half of the allusion is that the Lord was awaken by the panicked disciples, stood up, calmed the seas at his command, chastised the disciples for their lack of faith, and evoked the memorable statement: “What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the waves obey him?”
It is very unlikely that the Pope was at all at sea in his statement; too bad the same couldn’t be said for some of his observers.
Responding to charges that the Roman Catholic Church seeks to impose its views on society, Richard Lucas (Letters, 28 February) says that “feminists, environmentalists, gay rights campaigners, secularists etc also seek to ‘impose’ their view on society”.
Mr Lucas fails to see a crucial difference between typical religious campaigners, on the one hand, and most of these other campaigners, on the other. The difference lies in freedom.
Usually, religious bodies want to influence public policy in such a way that everyone is compelled to abide by church teaching. For example, Roman Catholicism does not permit same-sex marriage, so the Roman Catholic Church has been campaigning to have everyone, Roman Catholic or not, banned from entering into same-sex marriage.
By contrast, most of the other campaigners listed by Mr Lucas want to enlarge the area of freedom for individuals to act as seems good to them, providing something like the John Stuart Mill principle of not harming others is not breached.
Secularists typically want to free people from being bossed about by religious bodies – from having the swings locked up on Sundays and people’s emotions and judgment locked up all the time – whereas religious bodies are usually trying, by hook or episcopal crook, to boss people about or to get the public authorities to do the bossing about for them.
It has been a notable feature of the campaign for same-sex marriage that there have been no serious demands for religious bodies to be compelled to act contrary to their religious doctrines, whereas religious bodies have been strident in insisting that all must live by the doctrines of the religious bodies.