Monday, November 14, 2005

The Burning Fire of love

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.
(Opening stanza to the Lewes bonfire night prayers)

Bishop Claims Lewes Bonfire is Inoffensive
Posted November 14, 2005
The Universe (Online Catholic Newspaper in UK)

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton has dismissed claims the annual Lewes bonfire, which includes burning an effigy of the Pope, is "anti-Catholic." The bishop broke his silence amid fears future celebrations which attract around 40,000 visitors each year to the East Sussex town, could be abolished under the government?s proposed Religious Hatred Bill.

Organisers fear a test case brought under the legislation might brand the marches as sectarian, forcing a halt to the 150-year-old tradition. But Bishop Conry said he had never received a single complaint about the bonfires from anyone, including Catholics, adding that the effigy burning did not reflect -a manifestation of anti-Catholic feeling - in the area.

"In the four years I have been here, I have never had a single complaint about the bonfires," he said. "Just because they burn an effigy of the Pope, it does not mean people are against the Catholic Church. I have never experienced any bigotry in Lewes or the other towns."

"I do not believe the effigy-burning represents a wider manifestation of anti-Catholic feeling. It is just a traditional festival where the effigies of numerous people are burnt each year. The Pope is just one of many."
No doubt Bishop Conry is correct here. The burning of the Roman Pontiff in effigy is likely illustrative of the very, very warm feelings the people of Lewes have held towards Catholicism since the burnings began in 1853. And we're told lots of people get burned in effigy. Why just last year they burned Saddam Hussein?s effigy! They did that, no doubt, because they hold the murderous former dictator in the same degree of affection they hold the Catholic pope. So what's the big deal? Some people are so sensitive.

I myself have a hankering every once in a while to burn in effigy Ian Paisley, the North Irish Protestant preacher who spews hatred towards papists for a living. Don't misunderstand me. My flaming Paisley fantasy should not be taken in any way, shape, or form, for a personal dislike of Paisley, or his party. It is merely a sign of the burning love I have for him and his ilk.

Hat tip to Kathy Shaidle.


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