An UnPOPEular Arrest

TABATHA LEGGETT speculates over Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens’ attempt to arrest the Pope.

catholic Christianity christopher hitchens david cameron gordon brown Nick Clegg Pope Richard Dawkins

My Mum fancies Richard Dawkins.

Apparently it’s a combination of his perfectly-accented voice, the fearless pursuit of truth upon which he has embarked and the curtain of silverly hair that gently sweeps his forehead that does it for her. Owing to this plethora of attractive qualities, she maintains an healthy interest in his life and latest endeavours. So, I was entirely unsurprised when she excitedly called me last week.

'You’ll never guess what.' she squealed.

'What?'

'Richard Dawkins is arresting the Pope!'

Aside from slightly amusement at my mother’s reaction to this random piece of news, I must admit that, initially, I felt a bit sorry for Pope Benedict XVI (formally Joseph Ratzinger – apparently being a Pope means you get to change your name). Now, I’m certainly no Papal expert, but I couldn’t help but wonder what he’s ever done wrong.  Turns out, he’s done quite a lot wrong. In fact, old J. Ratz is actually a bit of a dick. 

Sure, recently he apologised on behalf of the Irish Catholic priests who raped those children, but unfortunately this was just another case of ‘too little too late’. We all know that the Pope gave up on the Christian virtues of confession and repentance years ago, but it is simply unacceptable that the Catholic Church continues to value its own reputation above the wellbeing of children. 

Only four years ago, a young boy was awarded damages by the High Court for sexual abuse, and his abuser, Father Pearce Ealing Abbey, retained his job as a school priest. Furthermore, he ended up grooming another boy for sex, taking him to a West End show and following him abroad. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that paedophilia is not OK – even if it involves theatre trips and sunny getaways – and we probably oughtn't to employ paedophiles in our schools. And if we must insist on employing them, surely someone should keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t get too rapey?

The problem here is that Higher Authorities refuse to deal with the consequences of such cases properly. Granted, they murmur apologies now and again, but they hide important specifics from us and don’t accept full responsibility for fear of risking corporate reputation. And, this is exactly what Richard Dawkins and Christoper Hitchens reckon they can get the Pope arrested for: compliance in covering up sex abuse scandals from within the Catholic Church, or ‘crimes against humanity’.

Crimes against humanity?

Recently, J. Ratz was involved in yet another controversy over a letter that he signed claiming that the ‘good of the universal church’ should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who sexually abused two boys. Dawkins got it spot on when he described the Pope as a ‘man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence.’ So, quite unsurprisingly, nobody was very impressed upon hearing that the Pope’s coming round for a visit. At the taxpayer’s expense.

The Pope has recently announced that he’s coming to the UK in September on a trip that will include a speech at Westminster Hall in the Houses of Parliament and a giant open-air Mass in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park. His visit is expected to cost £15 million, which will be partially subsidised by the government. In addition to this, a policing bill must be met by existing policing budgets.

I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering why we’re paying for this man to have a nice holiday and treating him as an inspirational figure and hero when he should be explaining the recent allegations of sex abuse that the Catholic Church are facing. Even the Cameron/Brown/Clegg dream team were able to agree on this matter: that the Church needs to deal with these problems and confess exactly what’s been going on.

We all know that sexually abused children shouldn’t be silenced. Pope Ben, however, remains blissfully unaware of the damage he’s doing, preferring to uphold the reputation of the Catholic Church. Whilst we all wait with baited breath for his apology, I can only hope that Dawkins and Hitchens succeed in their mission to arrest the Pope, or at the very least, tar the reputation that J.Ratz is so desperate to hold on to. I don’t doubt that my mum’s penchant for academic-types will be fuelled by Dawkins' latest endeavours, but at as long as she stays away from children, she’s one up on the priests.