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Annotated captions of Stephen Fry on Catholicism, from the Intelligence Squared debate in English

Last Modified By Time Content
lukanieto 00:17
00:23

I genuinely believe that the Catholic Church is not, to put it at its mildest,

lukanieto 00:23
00:26

a force for good in the world,

lukanieto 00:26
00:30

and therefore it is important for me to try and martial my facts as well I can

lukanieto 00:30
00:32

to explain why I think that.

lukanieto 00:32
00:36

But I want first of all to say that I have no quarrel and no argument

lukanieto 00:36
00:42

and I wish to express no contempt for individual devout and pious members of that church.

lukanieto 00:42
00:47

It would be impertinent and wrong of me to express any antagonism towards any individual

lukanieto 00:47
00:51

who wishes to find salvation in whatever form they wish to express it.

lukanieto 00:52
00:57

That to me is sacrosanct as much as any article of faith is sacrosanct

lukanieto 00:57
01:00

to anyone of any church or any faith in the world.

lukanieto 01:00
01:02

It’s very important.

lukanieto 01:02
01:07

It’s also very important to me, as it happens, that I have my own beliefs.

lukanieto 01:08
01:09

They are a belief in the Enlightenment,

lukanieto 01:09
01:17

a belief in the eternal adventure of trying to discover moral truth in the world,

lukanieto 01:17
01:19

and there is nothing, sadly,

lukanieto 01:19
01:24

that the Catholic Church and its hierarchs likes to do more than to attack the Enlightenment.

lukanieto 01:24
01:30

It did so at the time: reference was made to Galileo and the fact that he was tortured

lukanieto 01:30
01:34

for trying to explain the Copernican theory of the Universe.

lukanieto 01:34
01:36

Just imagine in this square mile

lukanieto 01:36
01:41

how many people were burned for reading the Bible in English.

lukanieto 01:41
01:47

And one of the principle burners and torturers of those who tried to read the Bible in English,

lukanieto 01:47
01:50

here in London, was Thomas More.

lukanieto 01:50
01:52

Now, "that’s a long time ago, it’s not relevant,"

lukanieto 01:52
01:56

except that it was only last century that Thomas More was made a saint,

lukanieto 01:56
02:09

and it was only in the year 2000, that the last pope made him the Patron Saint of Politicians.

lukanieto 02:09
02:17

This is a man who put people on the wrack for daring to own a Bible in English:

lukanieto 02:17
02:22

he tortured them for owning a Bible in their own language.

lukanieto 02:22
02:28

The idea that the Catholic Church exists to disseminate the word of the Lord is nonsense.

lukanieto 02:28
02:34

It is the only owner of the Truth for the billions that it likes to boast about,

lukanieto 02:34
02:40

because those billions are uneducated and poor, as again it likes to boast about.

lukanieto 02:40
02:46

It’s perhaps unfair of me, as a gay man, to moan at this enormous institution,

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02:50

which is the largest and most powerful church on Earth,

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02:53

has over a billion, as they like to tell us, members,

lukanieto 02:53
03:00

each one of whom is under strict instructions to believe the dogmas of the church,

lukanieto 03:00
03:02

but may wrestle with them personally of course.

lukanieto 03:03
03:05

It’s hard for me to be told that I’m evil,

lukanieto 03:05
03:09

because I think of myself as someone who is filled with love,

lukanieto 03:09
03:13

whose only purpose in life was to achieve love,

lukanieto 03:13
03:17

and who feels love for so much of nature and the world and for everything else.

lukanieto 03:17
03:22

We certainly don’t need the stigmatisation, the victimisation,

lukanieto 03:22
03:24

that leads to the playground bullying

lukanieto 03:24
03:29

when people say you’re a disordered, morally evil individual.

lukanieto 03:29
03:32

That’s not nice, it isn’t nice!

lukanieto 03:38
03:42

The kind of cruelty in Catholic education,

lukanieto 03:42
03:45

the kind of child —let’s not call it child abuse, it was child rape—

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03:49

the kind of child rape that went on systematically for so long...

lukanieto 03:49
03:52

Let’s imagine that we can overlook this and say

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03:56

that it is nothing whatever to do with the structure and nature of the Catholic Church,

lukanieto 03:56
04:01

and the twisted and neurotic and hysterical way that its leaders are chosen,

lukanieto 04:01
04:05

the celibacy, the nuns, the monks, the priesthood...

lukanieto 04:05
04:12

This is not natural and normal, ladies and gentlemen, in 2009 --it really isn’t.

lukanieto 04:17
04:21

I have yet to approach one of the subjects dearest to my heart.

lukanieto 04:21
04:25

I’ve made three documentary films on the subject of AIDS in Africa.

lukanieto 04:25
04:29

My particular love is the country of Uganda, it is one of the countries I love most in the world.

lukanieto 04:29
04:38

There was a period when Uganda had the worst incidence of HIV/AIDS in the world,

lukanieto 04:38
04:41

but through an amazing initiative called ABC

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04:46

—Abstinence, Be faithful, Correct use of condoms—

lukanieto 04:46
04:53

those three; I’m not denying that abstinence is a very good way of not getting AIDS, it really is,

lukanieto 04:53
05:00

it works; so does being faithful, but so do condoms and do not deny it!

lukanieto 05:00
05:07

And this Pope, not satisfied with saying

lukanieto 05:07
05:09

“condoms are against our religion,"

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05:14

"please consider first abstinence, second being faithful to your partner,”

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he spreads the lie that condoms actually increase the incidence of AIDS,

lukanieto 05:20
05:27

he actually makes sure that aid is conditional on saying no to condoms.

lukanieto 05:27
05:32

I have been to the hospital in Bwindi in the west of Uganda, where I do quite a lot of work.

lukanieto 05:32
05:36

It is unbelievable the pain and suffering you see.

lukanieto 05:36
05:40

Now yes, yes it is true abstinence will stop it.

lukanieto 05:40
05:44

It’s the strange thing about this church:

lukanieto 05:44
05:48

it is obsessed with sex, absolutely obsessed.

lukanieto 05:48
05:54

Now, they will say we with our permissive society and our rude jokes, we are obsessed.

lukanieto 05:54
05:58

No, we have a healthy attitude: we like it, it’s fun, it’s jolly,

lukanieto 05:58
06:02

because it’s a primary impulse it can be dangerous and dark and difficult...

lukanieto 06:02
06:06

It’s a bit like food in that respect only even more exciting.

lukanieto 06:06
06:12

The only people who are obsessed with food are anorexics and the morbidly obese,

lukanieto 06:12
06:16

and that in erotic terms is the Catholic Church in a nutshell.

lukanieto 06:27
06:32

Do you know who would be the last person ever to be accepted as a prince of the Church?

lukanieto 06:32
06:35

The Galileean carpenter. 'That Jew.'

lukanieto 06:35
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They would kick him out before he tried to cross the threshold.

lukanieto 06:38
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He would be so ill-at-ease in the Church.

lukanieto 06:41
06:46

What would he think, what would he think of St. Peter’s?

lukanieto 06:46
06:50

What would he think of the wealth, and the power, and the self-justification,

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and the wheedling apologies?

lukanieto 06:59
07:04

The Pope could decide that all this power, all this wealth, this hierarchy of princes

lukanieto 07:04
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and bishops and archbishops and priests and monks and nuns

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could be sent out in the world with money and art treasures,

lukanieto 07:13
07:16

to put them back in the countries that they once raped and violated.

lukanieto 07:16
07:18

They could give that money away,

lukanieto 07:18
07:24

and they could concentrate on the apparent essence of their belief, and then,

lukanieto 07:24
07:29

I would stand here and say the Catholic Church may well be a force for good in the world.

lukanieto 07:29
07:31

But until that day, it is not.

lukanieto 07:31
07:33

Thank you.

lukanieto 07:51
07:55

I suppose I’m slightly disappointed that Ann Widdecombe in particular should say:

lukanieto 07:55
08:02

"Oh... I knew they’d bring up condoms, and child rape, and homosexuality."

lukanieto 08:02
08:04

It’s a bit like a burglar in court, saying:

lukanieto 08:04
08:08

“You would bring up that burglary, and that manslaughter,"

lukanieto 08:08
08:12

"you never mention the fact I give my father a birthday present!”

lukanieto 08:12
08:16

[So] yes, yes --are you getting the message?

lukanieto 08:16
08:21

There is a reason we hammer home these issues: because they matter!

lukanieto 08:21
08:26

It’s such an opportunity, owning a billion souls at baptism.

lukanieto 08:26
08:31

It’s such an opportunity to do something remarkable, to make this planet better,

lukanieto 08:31
08:36

and it’s an opportunity that is constantly and arrogantly being avoided and I’m sorry for that.