Meanwhile, Damian Thompson has drawn his readers attention to the latest paroxysms of Richard Dawkins, this time in The Washington Post. My comments in bold, orange...
Q: The Vatican is making it easier for Anglicans -- priests, members and parishes -- to convert to Catholicism. Some say this is further recognition of the substantial overlap in faith, doctrine and spirituality between the Catholic and Anglican traditions; others see it as poaching that could further divide the Anglican Communion. What do you think?
A: What major institution most deserves the title of greatest force for evil in the world? (The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science?) In a field of stiff competition, the Roman Catholic Church is surely up there among the leaders. The Anglican church has at least a few shreds of decency, traces of kindness and humanity with which Jesus himself might have connected, however tenuously: a generosity of spirit, of respect for women, and of Christ-like compassion for the less fortunate (Get it?! Catholic Church = Bad, Anglican Church = Not quite as bad!) The Anglican church does not cleave to the dotty idea that a priest, by blessing bread and wine, can transform it literally into a cannibal feast (Hmm, but the idea that God became Man is not dotty? Come on now, Richard, make your mind up, for that is what Anglicans believe!); nor to the nastier idea that possession of testicles is an essential qualification to perform the rite. It does not send its missionaries out to tell deliberate lies to AIDS-weakened Africans, about the alleged ineffectiveness of condoms in protecting against HIV. Whether one agrees with him or not, there is a saintly quality in the Archbishop of Canterbury, a benignity of countenance, a well-meaning sincerity. How does Pope Ratzinger (Benedict! Honestly! Have some respect!) measure up? The comparison is almost embarrassing (Yep. But not for the reasons he thinks...).
Poaching? Of course it is poaching (No, it isn't. Its like placing an ad in Friday-Ad saying, 'Any Anglican's want to become Catholic? Call me, Pope Benedict XVI, freephone, on XXIVIII IIVXI') What else could you call it? Maybe it will succeed. If estimates are right that 1,000 Anglican clergymen will take the bait (no women, of course: they will swiftly be shown the door) (Yes, indeed. "Here's the Church door, would you like to come in and enter into Full Communion with your Mother, the Church. Leave the dog collar at home..."), what could be their motive? For some it will be a deep-seated misogyny (although they'll re-label it with a mendacious euphemism of some kind, which they'll call 'an important point of theological principle') (Like, Christ was a Man, and He chose men to represent Him, therefore those representing Him on the Altar should be men - a minor theological principle, I know). They just can't stomach the idea of women priests. One wonders how their wives can stomach a husband whose contempt for women is so visceral that he considers them incapable even of the humble and unexacting duties of a priest.
For some, the motive will be homophobic bigotry, and a consequent dislike of the efforts of decent church leaders such as the Archbishop of Canterbury to accept those whose sexual orientation happens to deviate from majority taste (Awful isn't it? Every time you go to Mass, you see the sign saying, 'No queers, lesbians and in general, no sinners allowed'). Never mind that they will be joining an institution where buggering altar boys pervades the culture.
Turning to the motives of the poachers, here we find cause for real encouragement (for the Devil and his friends, but Richard, Christ has assured us that if we persevere in the Faith, the last laugh will be ours and it will last the longest, that is, as long as long can be, that is, Eternally). The Roman Catholic Church is fast running out of priests. In Ireland in 2007, 160 Catholic priests died, while only nine new recruits were ordained. To say the least, those figures don't point towards sustainability. No wonder that disgusting institution, the Roman Catholic Church, is dragging its flowing skirts in the dirt and touting for business like a common pimp: "Give me your homophobes, misogynists and pederasts. Send me your bigots yearning to be free of the shackles of humanity."
Archbishop Rowan Williams is too nice for his own good. Instead of meekly sharing that ignominious platform with the poachers, he should have issued a counter-challenge: "Send us your women, yearning to be priests, who could make a strong case for being the better-qualified fifty percent of humanity; send us your decent priests, sick of trying to defend the indefensible; send them all, in exchange for our woman-haters and gay-bashers." Sounds like a good trade to me. (Finished? Good!)
Quite how the Holy Father's fantastic innovation affects someone as devotedly atheistic as Dawkins is one of life's little mysteries. I do notice, however, that the Richard Dawkins website is advertising for volunteers. "For what?" I hear the people's cry! "Is Dawkins setting up a volunteer scheme for people to help poor HIV orphans in Africa, who are motherless because the Pope went around nicking people's rubbers? Is he showing his humanist compassion by setting up soup runs across the country with his vast wealth? O Richard, show us your deep love for humanity, you old social darwinist you!"
No, of course not. He needs, and I quote: 'Lawyers (specializing in American tax law [!!!!]), Accountants, Designers, Video Editors/Cameramen/Subtitling/Graphics (Final Cut Pro), Website & Computer Specialists, Translators (Spanish and French are needed most, but all languages are helpful!), Educators/Scientists, Marketing Specialists, Organizers/Managers.'
Ha-ha! Classic! Richard, dear old boy! Sounds to me like you are building a religion there, mate! Oh, that is too good! He wants people to work for free, for him, to spread his 'gospel'! Who is the founder of his religion and who rakes in the money? Yep, you guessed it...Dawkins! Look, just $19.99 for his DVD called 'The Root of All Evil?' Richard, it sounds like a question. The answer to the question isn't 'religion', it's 'money'.