Stephen Fry's view on the pope and church

edited January 2011 in Religion & Philosophy
Stephen Fry makes a passionate speech about the Catholic Church (God I love this guy). I want to make it TOTALLY clear right now: this video has nothing to do with the existence or non-existence of God, so if anyone comments on this pleeease don't make it about that. This is a criticism by Stephen Fry of the Catholic Church (certain aspects of it in particular).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL5WVecNdhk

Stephen Fry's closing remarks from Intelligence Squared debate on "Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world":

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

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

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

'You would bring up that burglary, and that manslaughter, you never mention the fact I give my father a birthday present!'

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

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

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

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

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

It's a debate worth watching on YouTube. I was less convinced by the arguments of Christopher Hitchens (I sensed a thinly veiled attack on all religion in his comments and tone) - but Stephen Fry's arguments were persuasive, and genuine. He was by far the most eloquent speaker, and it was no doubt thanks to his arguments that the results of the debate were as one sided as they were. As a sidenote, I had never noticed before quite how pompous and arrogant Ann Widdecombe can come across.

Anybody watch this besides me? He's such an amazing speaker.

Comments

  • There's a headline. "HOMOSEXUAL BRIT HAS DIFFERENCES WITH RCC!" Read all about it!

    Of course, denouncing the RCC is one of Fry's hobbies. While it is sad that he feels judged by a church that formally declares his behavior incorrect, it doesn't render his outrage especially interesting to those who do not share it. That Fry feels the need to mis-state RC pronouncement on condoms or the reason for Moore's beatification speaks to his rage, but not much else.

    Also, the idea that Hitchen's attack on religion is thinly or otherwise veiled is pure hilarity.
  • After the third gross misstatement of Catholic teaching and history within the first two minutes I just stopped watching. What worthy accomplishment a critic like Fry believes he achieves by attacking an utter strawman and caricature is beyond me. I have to wonder whether critics like this actually believe the things they are saying out of ignorance or poor comprehension and instruction, or if they find distortion and slander too easy an opportunity to pass up and perfectly legitimate tools in the service of "truth." The degree of irony of claiming to champion rationality and the enlightenment while at the same time obfuscating, misstating, and in many cases just purveying nonsense made of whole cloth about the Church is really beyond measure.
  • I just don't think that was the point he was trying to make. I think he was arguing for a view of moderation, similar to our view of food - rather than what appears to be an obsessive "all or nothing" view (like anorexics or the morbidly obese). He's not attacking Catholics just only those in charge of the Church. You cannot dispute the Pope has made mistakes.
  • said:

    I just don't think that was the point he was trying to make.

    If you need to guess at the point he was trying to make rather than the ones he did make, he might not be as eloquent as you thought.

    He opens by asserting that he is full of love and must choose his facts with care, then runs on about his resentment expressed with patent falsehoods about his target. He establishes a standard, then fails to meet it.
  • edited January 2011
    said:

    said:

    I just don't think that was the point he was trying to make.

    If you need to guess at the point he was trying to make rather than the ones he did make, he might not be as eloquent as you thought.

    He opens by asserting that he is full of love and must choose his facts with care, then runs on about his resentment expressed with patent falsehoods about his target. He establishes a standard, then fails to meet it.
    Indeed. And to put it another way, Fry marshals several "facts" about RCC teachings and history and many rather astonishing characterizations of those teachings and history to make his point. But if what he marshals is false, how valid can the point he builds from those falsehoods be?

    I think he was arguing for a view of moderation, similar to our view of food - rather than what appears to be an obsessive "all or nothing" view (like anorexics or the morbidly obese).

    The Church believes in absolute truths, just as absolute as 2 + 2 = 4. How do you moderate from an absolute truth like 2 + 2 = 4? Please explain. I have no doubt that Catholic leaders, and indeed all devout Catholics, would love for their to be a compromise with the truth that would allow for them to take an easier, more worldly, more indulgent path toward salvation. The Church doesn't take an uncompromising position toward salvation because it's so fun. The easiest thing in the world to do would be to "moderate."

    He's not attacking Catholics just only those in charge of the Church.

    True Catholics believe in the doctrine promulgated and defended by the leadership. To say that Fry's remarks aren't an attack on everyday Catholics may technically be true, but it's a hollow distinction. If promulgating and defending divine revelation as understood by the Church is wrong, being Catholic itself is wrong.

    You cannot dispute the Pope has made mistakes.

    If all Fry is trying to say is that the Pope(s) is (have been) a flawed person (group). He might as well be telling us that people need air to breathe. It would be no less obvious and worthless an observation. But the fact is that is not at all the extent of Fry's point. His explicit thesis is that the RCC is an active force for ill in the world, that it makes the world a worse place. And he chooses to support that smear and ugly assessment with gross lies.
  • Pity, I love Stephen Fry
  • He's a talented comedian. Some of his Fry and Lourie stuff was hilarious. He's also on a long list of entertainers whose political or moral opinions I can't take seriously.
  • Condoms are OK for his ilk now. And there was much rejoicing, especially dancing.

    Still can't use them for full frontal, though.
  • said:

    Condoms are OK for his ilk now.

    No, they are not. The reporting on this issue has been truly ridiculous. The pope's point on this matter was that a person with HIV outside of marriage who decides to have sex, like all people who have sex outside of marriage, he is committing mortal sin. However if he uses a condom, the act is somewhat less offensive since it shows at least someone inclination that the person is showing some respect for the consequences of sex and some respect for the partner involved. Sex outside of marriage, with or without condoms, is still a mortal sin. And sex which is done that is deliberately closed off to procreation is still a sin.
  • said:

    Condoms are OK for his ilk now.

    No, they are not. The reporting on this issue has been truly ridiculous. The pope's point on this matter was that a person with HIV outside of marriage who decides to have sex, like all people who have sex outside of marriage, is committing mortal sin. However if he uses a condom, the act is somewhat less offensive since it shows at least someone inclination that the person is showing some respect for the consequences of sex and some respect for the partner involved. Sex outside of marriage, with or without condoms, is still a mortal sin. And sex which is done that is deliberately closed off to procreation is still a sin.
  • said:

    I was less convinced by the arguments of Christopher Hitchens (I sensed a thinly veiled attack on all religion in his comments and tone)

    As Bill alluded to, Hitchens very plainly hates all forms of religion. He will take any little bit as leverage against it, completely ignoring the good. You should see his hatred for Mother Teresa!
    said:

    The easiest thing in the world to do would be to "moderate."

    Amen! It's not a matter of what's easier, but what's true.
  • I don't see personally how his sexual orientation matters. Being gay is not a choice anyways.


    I think the guy is a brilliant man with the right ideas about the Catholic church changing with the times. I personally agree with him.
  • said:

    I don't see personally how his sexual orientation matters. Being gay is not a choice anyways.


    I think the guy is a brilliant man with the right ideas about the Catholic church changing with the times. I personally agree with him.

    So to recap, you think the debate is worth watching, but only link to one portion of it, you think he has the right ideas about the RCC, even though he gets the history wrong, and you don't see how his sexual orientation matters even though it is a prominent part of his indictment of the RCC.

    Is there anything else wou wanted to share?
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