Richard Dawkins, the well-known former scientist and atheist messiah campaigner, along with his pal Christopher Hitchens, is exploring ways to arrest the Pope on a forthcoming visit to Britain for ‘crimes against humanity’ over the Pope’s ‘alleged cover-up’ of the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church. They (that’s Dawkins and Hitchens) wish to exploit the same legislation that allowed for the arrest of the former ruler of Chile, Mr Pinochet, in 1983. The legal niceties of such a challenge notwithstanding, one can only gasp at Mr Dawkins’ brass neck.
However, I think there is one area in which Mr Dawkins and the Catholic Church might – unbelievably – find common ground. It has been reported that a retired cleric is allegedly of the opinion that the whole brouhaha about pedophilia among priests is all the fault of … you guessed it … the World Jewish Conspiracy. There is currently some debate about whether the cleric said these things in the first place, but it does add an interesting flavor to the debate, especially as Mr Dawkins has previously stepped into that particular minefield.
I think the problem has less to do with Jews than Catholic hang-ups about sex. It’s amazing that a body exists that insists, as a condition of employment, that its executives remain celibate. Priests are as human as the rest of us, and subject to the same urges. I reckon the Catholic Church could, actually, learn a thing or two from the Jewish attitude to sex, as exemplified by the following tale.
A priest and a rabbi are sharing the same train compartment (you can tell already that this joke is so old it has moss growing on it). Being in the same line of work, they begin to chat. ‘Is it true,’ the priest asks, ‘that you Jews are forbidden from eating pork products?’
‘Yes, it is,’ the rabbi replies.
‘But were you ever tempted to … transgress?’
‘Yes, I must confess that I was,’ the rabbi replies. ‘When I was young and foolish, I ate a bacon sandwich. Just the once. And I have to say it was delicious. But might I ask you a question in return?’
‘I believe that you, as a priest, must remain celibate. Did you …? Have you …?’
‘Ah, me,’ the priest reflects. ‘I also have a confession to make. When I was a young man I committed a carnal act with a female parishioner. Just the once.’ The priest’s eyes mist over in recollection.
The rabbi leans over and pats the priest on the knee. ‘A lot nicer than bacon sandwiches, eh?’