God doesn’t exist, anarchists do

(Pope’s visit, Part One)

‘Peligro, que viene el Papa!’ (Watch out, the Pope’s about!) shouted the red and black stickers, illustrated with a creepy silhouette of a figure wearing a mitre and robes. The vestments were hitched up around his skinny ankles, as he pursued a group of children down the street, his Nosferatu claws outstretched to grab them. Another sticker just beneath it urged us to ‘Keep religion out of schools!’ An anarchist poster listing the clergy’s recent sex crimes informed passers-by, sternly,

‘Esperamos que Dios te perdona- porque nosotros no lo van a hacer’ (We hope God forgives you because we’re not going to.)

It seems not everyone was happy about the Pope’s imminent visit to Madrid, and the accompanying invasion of  adolescent ‘cristo-flautas’ (God-squaddies) for the Dia Internacional de la Juventud Catolica. Least of all, the Anarchists. A couple of weeks before the papal visit, all over the centre of town, pasted onto lamp-posts, bus-stops, shop windows, and the sides of rubbish bins, there was a flurry of this kind of propaganda. Stuck with that type of glue that makes the poster impossible to peel off without scratching it away with the edge of a key, or soaking it in detergent:

THE CHURCH IS THE ENEMY OF LIFE

For centuries the church has been helping to build a hell on earth.

It has done all in its power to stop us making our own decisions about our bodies, our lives and our deaths, it has persecuted

homosexuals, defended racist theories, systematically kept

women down, ripped off the poor, and spread fear

and blackmail in order to dominate. Those they exploit have never been

people with their own rights in the church’s eyes… just a rich seam of

profit for them to mine. The abuse and rape of children which is

such a scandal in today’s society only illustrates this logic.

 God doesn’t exist, anarchists do.

It’s a fair assumption that anarchists would automatically be opposed to Benedicto riding into town. But why would the educational establishment, or at least a large proportion of teachers? ‘Keep religion out of schools!’ Is this a ‘faith school’ argument? Not quite. It’s more a question of money. There are arguments that this visit, sponsored by the state and private companies, has cost roughly the same as the recent educational cuts. Thesel cuts have not sat well with the throwing open of public-sector schools to tens of thousands of young pilgrims, providing them with free (or heavily subsidised) dormitory accommodation in sports halls and assembly rooms. Except it’s not entirely free. Who is covering their costs – electricity, water, security and air-conditioning, to name a few? The state schools. After all, the scathing retoric scoffs, the Catholic Church is such an impoverished institution it couldn’t possibly finance the tour itself…

So, Spain’s a catholic country, is it? In response to the Pope’s visit, a large demonstration was planned to coincide with the International Catholic Youth Day, bringing together teachers, gay rights activists, feminist groups, alternative christian groups, anarchists and so on. They were informed prior to the event, by the police, that their planned route would be changed, veering around Puerta del Sol to avoid ‘disturbing’ or ‘clashing’ with the cristo-flautas. Except it didn’t quite work out that way on the day, as is so often the case here. This was more than a rumble in the jungle, and the anti-papists were to prove that not only could they mobilise and take the plaza, but they also had much better slogans than the other side.

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