The Catholic church has not been having a good time of late.
There is the global furore over the long-standing problem of child abuse and sexual molestation of children by priests and by members of lay Catholic educational organisations.
Then there is the growing clamour about the inability of the Church hierarchy, right up to the Pope, to see that their prioritising of the church’s image and “public propriety” over abused children’s well-being and rights is viewed by most people as utterly abhorrent.
Then there is the phenomenon that part of this inability to grasp the issue periodically manifests as Catholic Church grandees lashing out with ludicrous “Epic Fail” comparisons, likening the ire directed at them to the persecution of the Jews (see here) or alternatively constructing ridiculous conspiracy theories.
And some of the UK papers have been having fun reporting the story that some atheists might try and stage a “Citizen’s Arrest” of the Pope when he visits the UK (exploding volcanoes and others “Acts of God” permitting) later this year (see discussion at Heresy Corner).
In among all this ongoing meltdown, the Catholic Church clearly has bigger fish to fry than the UK general election. However. religious, and more specifically Catholic, prejudice has now raised its head in the campaign with a bizarre and spiteful attack by Daily Telegraph columnist, and prominent lay Catholic, Cristina Odone on Dr Evan Harris MP.
Odone’s article can be found here. Do read it quickly if you are interested, as I rather wonder how long it will stay up. It also has a marvellous comments thread testifying to many people’s evident disgust at Odone’s labelling of Harris as “Dr Death”. Some readers may remember that this was the sobriquet directed at Harris by the People’s Medical Journal Daily Mail during the debate over the Abortion time limit a couple of years ago (coverage on this blog can be found here and here).
Harris’ response to Odone can be found in the Telegraph comments. It is calm and reasoned (and just a bit puzzled) and is well worth a read. However, I think the single best response (and certainly the funniest) is the one by the Skepchick, aka Rebecca Watson:
“Thanks for the heads up, Cristina! Now I know to cheer for the LibDems. I want to know that if I end up in a vegetative state, I’m given a peaceful death rather than my own Telegraph column.”