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Sunday, 8 August 2010

Stampede deaths are God’s punishment? Yeah, right!

Enjoying a music festival is sinful, and God punishes participants by killing some of them and injuring hundreds of others. Hmm. Sounds like something right out of the Old Testament – think plagues of boils, deaths of firstborn, that kind of thing.

But it’s hardly surprising, really, because this idea comes from the pen of Bishop Andreas Laun of Salzburg, commenting on a Love Parade held in Duisburg on 24 July, and he’s a Catholic, and Catholics believe in all kinds of . . . But I needn’t go on.

Twenty-one people died in this “sinful event”, which, says this man of questionable sanity, is “a rebellion against creation and against God’s order, [which] are sins and an invitation to sin”.

More than 500 people were injured, too, when a bottleneck formed as revellers tried to get into the festival.

“Writing on the German-language website,” says the story linked to above, “Mr Laun warned against judging the dead. At the same time, he indirectly linked the deaths to God’s right to punish apostates – those who turn their back on the true faith.

“The provocative comments are expected to draw outrage from victims’ families and survivors. The remarks from such a senior member of the clergy are also feared to draw the embattled church hierarchy into further criticism of its rigid attitude to modern society.

“In recent months the church has tried to weather storms over successive child abuse claims, a lack of sympathy to predator priests’ victims and a crisis of legitimacy.

“A memorial service was attended by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, amid assertions that the parade would never be held again.”

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