Recently, the New Atheists’ most prominent representative, Richard Dawkins, wrote a highly emotive piece for the Washington Post, in which he derided the present pope and expressed glee and satisfaction that such a person was now leading the Catholic Church. In Dawkins’s judgment, not only was this no less than the Church deserved, but such leadership could only hasten the Church’s demise. I thought at the time that Dawkins was over the top and wrong. I now think that he was right and that it was I who was wrong. Let me say at once that, unlike Dawkins, I don’t necessarily want to see this as the end of religion or even of the Catholic Church in some form. I stress that although I cannot share the beliefs of Christians, I respect them and applaud the good that is done in the name of their founder. But I do now think that as presently constituted, the Catholic Church is corrupt and should be eradicated.
This will not happen. This last week, the Pope appointed an archbishop for Los Angeles. The appointee is a member of Opus Dei, for goodness's sake. You don't have to subscribe to the nuttiness of The Da Vinci Code to know what this means: he belongs to an organization that throve under Generalissimo Franco, about as right-wing as it is possible to get. Far from trying to reform, the Church is digging in and digging in.
Dawkins is right. The moral mess gets worse and worse. Hope of change is illusory. Götterdämmerung beckons. Although we have different motives and undoubtedly hope for different outcomes, I join Dawkins in welcoming the prospect.
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The Catholic Church: Why Richard Dawkins Was Right and I Was Wrong