Caring and sharing is not abuse, Professor Dawkins

Share
Related Topics

What Mass, I asked my children yesterday, shall we go to at Christmas? Will it be midnight, that most magical of times? Will it be the 9.30am, when children are dressed as angels? Or will it be the 11am, when the choir fills the church with carols?

What Richard Dawkins would tell me is that I shouldn't be taking my children to any mass at all, because I shouldn't be raising them as Catholics. The teachings of my faith, says the professor, are so terrible, and insidious and damaging that they're worse than sexual abuse. So what I am doing, according to him, is abusing my children in the worst possible way.

It's all such total tosh that I did wonder whether it was worth putting pen to paper to state the obvious. But, although Dawkins's comments are so extreme (apart from anything else, how offensive what he says is to victims of sexual abuse), there must be many people this Christmas who might wonder why some of us are still raising our children in the Christian faith. And not just as Christians ,but as Catholics, a denomination that has had a bad year PR-wise.

What other institution, in 2012, could boast quite as many own goals as the church in which I go to pray each week? It's had plenty to keep it in the public eye this year: from the faithful butler keen to protect the Pope from the grasping cardinals, through the endless child abuse scandals, to the inappropriate comments from senior churchmen about gay people.

But despite all that, I will be at mass this Christmas, with as many of my children as I can muster. And lest you should be thinking it's really all about their education, can I assure you that this is not the motivating factor? Yes, they have all been to Catholic schools, and yes, those schools have been good. But what makes these schools good are the same elements that make the church worth fighting for: a sense of a caring, sharing community that puts individuals at the heart of its value system.

People who are all too quick to note how well Catholic schools do in the league tables are often all too slow to note that the school community shares an unwritten mission statement that's about putting people first, and recognises the importance of being true to the small voice inside each one of us that tells us what we should do, and what we shouldn't.

The reality of the Catholic church is that far too much power is concentrated in the hands of far too few. But as a force for individual spiritual growth, the church has a colossal amount to recommend it; as a body that unites human beings across the miles, and across the centuries, it is second to none.

If Dawkins wants to say the Catholic church could be better at doing what it does, I'd be the first to agree. But if I stop going to mass, and stop taking my children, where are those improvements going to come from? So I'm hanging on to my faith by my fingertips, and I'm hoping my children will do the same. I don't think Dawkins's publicity-seeking views will do much to damage the Catholic church, but I hope my children's connection with it might do something to improve it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Muslim men pray at the East London Mosque  

Sadly, it needs to be said again: being a Muslim is not a crime

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible