Not possible to stick with the programme

India Knight on the other hand is not accepting the bluster. She’s not interested.

It is simply not possible, having read the papers or watched the news over the past couple of weeks, to stick with the programme. Like many of my generation, I could hardly be described as a good, or even decent, Catholic, but I’d managed to hang on in there, in the vaguest way imaginable.

Vague because it’s hard to pay lip-service to a faith that you feel hates you; a faith that would rather let you die in childbirth than have an abortion, won’t let you take the contraception necessary to prevent said abortion, hates gay people despite having many homosexual priests; a faith that talks ignorant nonsense about HIV and Aids, that would rather watch people die in Africa than let them use a condom; a faith that is unbelievably slow to say sorry about the fact that some of its members are habitual rapists of children.

Quite. And from that point of view, horribly enough, the child abuse scandal is a good thing. Damian Thompson is right in that sense. Because for a lot of people, as Knight indicates, all that other stuff isn’t enough. The fact that it isn’t enough means it just goes on. Since all that other stuff is seriously bad, it’s a good thing that some people are giving up on the church that perpetuates it.

I mean, you know, at some point you just give up. Not one of these things is defensible taken individually. Collectively, they are beyond comprehension. A faith based on central authority and infallibility must understand that failure immediately to condemn the rape of children — in Ireland, in America, in Austria, in Germany, in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Brazil, so far — is essentially to allow it.

And that therefore they have no moral standing. Period. They have been exposed for what they are, which is just human beings like the rest of us, who are more interested in their own-well being than that of outsiders. Their role in their religion hasn’t given them some special moral alertness or sensitivity that goes beyond what the rest of us have; on the contrary.

Religion — all religion, not just Catholicism — is supposed to be good for the soul, but everything I’ve written about here pollutes mine. You can’t take lessons in morality from people who disgust you.


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