The vultures gather
Cristina Odone is there, announcing to a breathless world that She is Praying for Christopher Hitchens. Well good, because that is the first thing that leapt to my mind, of course – will Cristina Odone be praying for him?
While condemning the intolerance of religious organisations, he shows zero tolerance for believers: a person of faith must be a fanatic, or a fraud. (Mother Teresa, according to his book The Missionary Position, was both.) He refuses to consider the evidence of religious do-gooding, found in the Catholic Church’s AIDS clinics in Africa, Anglican schools in Asia, and Jewish charities around the globe. He is determined to persecute Pope Benedict XVI, and would like to see him arrested on his forthcoming visit to Britain.
Mother Teresa was both. It’s not that she must have been, it’s that she was. Hitchens didn’t say “persons of faith” must be fanatics or frauds and therefore “Mother Teresa” was both; he investigated “Mother Teresa” in an effort to find out if her actions matched her reputation, and found out that they did not.
And Hitchens is not determined to “persecute” the pope, unless by “persecute” Odone means “tell the truth about.” It would be stupid for Hitchens to be determined to persecute the pope in any other sense, because it’s stupid to be determined to do the impossible, and Hitchens is about as unstupid as anyone alive. It’s impossible to persecute the pope, because we can’t get at him. He’s protected by layer upon layer upon layer of immunity and holiness and specialness and law and guards and bubble cars. We can’t get at him to tell him to his face that he’s doing bad things. (Yes there was that woman last Xmas, but all she managed to do was tip him over for a second. That’s not great for an elderly fella, but it’s not persecution.)
Hitchens is of course determined to see the pope prosecuted – and so he should be. The pope has real temporal power, and he uses it; he uses it to protect criminals and keep crimes out of the hands of secular law enforcement and rebuke countries that take law enforcement into their own hands. The pope should be subject to prosecution for, at least, heading an organization that abets criminals.
As for Hitchens – I hope medical science can keep him around until he reaches the pope’s current age, at least.