Why the Pope shouldn’t go to England

I hate blogs that make you click on a link to find out the tantalizing information they’re telling you about and hiding from you at the same time. You click on the link, and then maybe it has a link, and your desktop gets all stacked up with windows like messy piles of papers on your real desk in the old days, and then you forget all about what you were trying to do in the first place.

And so I apologize for my mysterious atheist post of yesterday. Here’s the deal: The pope whose real name sounds like a rodent is supposed to go to England at the end of September to make John Henry Newman, a Cardinal who died in 1890, a saint. Now there are a few problematic things here. For one thing, saints’ bodies aren’t supposed to decay, in fact they often have a sweet smell of perfume about them; but Newman’s coffin, when they dug it up in 2008 because they were going to move it for some reason in case he became a saint, was all rotted away and there was no body or even skeleton left at all. Slightly more problematic, perhaps, is that Newman, at one point, pronounced that the Pope (a different Pope, to be sure, but a pope’s a pope) was Antichrist.

Richard Dawkins is the atheist I obscurely referred to yesterday. He’s supporting a movement to have the Pope arrested when he arrives in England, and he and Newman actually have a lot in common. Here’s Newman, writing in the Washington Post on March 28:

“Should the pope resign?” No. As the College of Cardinals must have recognized when they elected him, he is perfectly – ideally – qualified to lead the Roman Catholic Church. A leering old villain in a frock, who spent decades conspiring behind closed doors for the position he now holds; a man who believes he is infallible and acts the part; a man whose preaching of scientific falsehood is responsible for the deaths of countless AIDS victims in Africa; 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: in short, exactly the right man for the job. He should not resign, moreover, because he is perfectly positioned to accelerate the downfall of the evil, corrupt organization whose character he fits like a glove, and of which he is the absolute and historically appropriate monarch.

I couldn’t say it much better myself.

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