An open letter to Sister Myra Poole

30 01 2010

Dear Sister Myra,

On Tuesday you spoke at the Stand up for Vatican II meeting, a meeting you’d hinted at in your letter to the Church Times in October.

It’s that letter, or more specifically a paragraph in that letter that I want to address. You said, “The only unity Pope Benedict XVI and his advisers want is the unity with those who are “right-wingers”, to use a political term. If the Pope had to appear on the BBC’s Question Time, he would get an even worse reception than the British National Party leader. “

I’m writing to you, Myra as a lifelong anti-fascist. My great grandfather, a Romanian Communist, was a victim of the Nazis. The German army swept through Poland in 1939 and within weeks he was arrested. His name was on a blacklist. The Nazis knew who he was. He was sent to Dachau and there he died, one of the millions who perished. It is for that personal reason as well as for reasons of conscience and political conviction that I have always opposed fascism and neo Nazism. I stuff envelopes, I support actions by Unite against Fascism, I march, I demonstrate. In October a few weeks before your letter was published, I demonstrated against Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time. You see, to me it’s personal Myra.

Some might think that your phrasing is just off-key, the usual exaggerations deployed by someone against their political opponent. But to me, it’s different. When you compare the Pope to Nick Griffin, Myra, you are trivialising my family’s experience and you are spitting in the face of my anti-fascism.

At Tuesday’s meeting – I was there, Myra, I heard you – you said that you’d been conscientised. I don’t doubt your sincerity, Myra. I’m sure you have been. So I put it to you, Myra, that your words in that letter were wrong, out of order and profoundly offensive to those of us whose family members were murdered by Nazis.

The Pope isn’t Nick Griffin and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith isn’t a racist neo Nazi organisation. Anyone who’d give the Pope a worse reception than the BNP leader is either so depoliticised that they can’t tell the difference between Summorum Pontificum and Der Sturmer or plain nasty.

I don’t think you’re the latter, Myra but you seem to be the former. There’s a remedy for that and it’s called a sharp dose of reality.

I’m inviting you, Myra, to join me in campaigning against the BNP in Dagenham. It’ll involve hard work and trudging the streets getting the message out. Your feet may get tired but your soul will be rested.

Fraternally,

Garnet Silk.

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