So I generally take a pretty live-and-let-live attitude toward religious people and clerics. As regards the Pope's current state visit to Britain, my position is probably that he should be allowed to visit Britain like pretty much anyone else, but no particular fuss should be made. (*) Fuss in my view would also include protests.
That said, I happen to be on the mailing list for the British Humanists and they're having a little march and rally tomorrow, from Hyde Park Corner to Whitehall. Richard Dawkins is speaking at the rally, and I can't really resist that. Details here:
Totally last-minute, of course. But if you're interested in meeting up, please drop me a communique of some sort. (Both so we can hook up and so that I definitely drag myself out of bed.)
I also, not entirely incidentally, once had occasion to do some significant research on the history, and particularly the finances, of the Holy See, for my second book. (Pages 200-201 in, I think, all editions.) Pretty shocking stuff there.
And finally, regarding his Holiness, and protesting visit of same, I will stoop to pointing out though, like most temptations, this one is probably to be resisted that there does seem to be increasing evidence that Ratzinger has more or less been serving as the ringleader for a ring of child rapists for some time now. And it's kind of hard to feel very live-and-let-live about child rapists, nor about those who cover up for child rapists and shuffle them around to new dioceses so they can rape more children. It's also hard to be not-quite-cognizant of all of this if one reads, as I read, quite a lot of Christopher Hitchens:
Holding the Catholic Church accountable for its crimes
The Roman Catholic Church holds it better for the cries of raped and violated children to be ignored, and for the excuses and alibis of their rapists and torturers indulged, and for a host of dirty and wilful untruths to be manufactured wholesale, and for the funds raised ostensibly for the poor to be paid out in hush money and shameful bribery, rather than that one tiny indignity or inconvenience be visited on the robed majesty of a man-made church or any limit set to its self-proclaimed right to be judge in its own cause.
Hitch has a whole series of relentless and remorseless pieces on this topic: here, here, and here, for instance. However, if you're on the market for some really time-efficient and really blistering indictments of the Catholic Church, plus total ass-kicking rhetoric and polemics, you couldn't really do better than these wonderful ten-minute video diatribes:
And if you liked part 1, or even if you didn't, you're really going to want to watch part 2. Wow. The big guns enfilade without mercy. [2022 Update: now all in one part, above.]
I expect the Catholic Church does nice things, too. (My favourite grandmother, a stunningly lovely person, for instance is a devout Catholic.) If I have a soul, perhaps I'll devote a dispatch to the good works of the Church . . . In the least case, I should probably be spending your attention on causes I care more urgently about. (Foremostly, the survival of the Israeli Jews, and the threat of their nuclear annihilation by the Iranian clerics, and the world's seeming indifference to same . . .)