All the bright red Christ blood running down.....
Like most people I never met the late Pope so, again like most people, my impressions of him are based on seeing him on television. He struck me as totally lacking in charisma, warmth, humour and humanity. The very qualities that are now being claimed for him.
But that is trivial compared to some of the other claims being made during the current outpouring of drivel.
'He was a champion of women'. Ha! And ha,ha,ha,ha! He sat at the apex of a misogynist organisation in which women play no part.
'He was a champion of human rights'. Well, if we lived in a Catholic Church State where the Pope's views informed the country's laws, you wouldn't be reading this. I'd be sitting in a prison cell for having sex with people of the same sex as myself.
But what made me more angry than his views on homosexuality was the attempt - often all too successful - to stop people in Africa using condoms to prevent the spread of Aids. The Vatican even resorted to lies and deception by publishing bogus 'scientific' research stating that the AIDS virus could pass through condoms. Not a single AIDS expert in the world agrees with this.
The Pope, we are told, was responsible for the collapse of Soviet communism. That he had a significant influence in Poland is beyond doubt. But it was Gorbachev's decision to end the Cold War and the expensive arms race with America that it entailed that was the most decisive factor.
In any case, the Pope's political views are hard to fathom. He attacked capitalism as vociferously as he attacked communism. So what form of political system, that was neither capitalist nor communist, did he favour? Presumably one run by the Catholic Church. And we only have to look at how Ireland used to be to see what that would do for human rights: Homosexuality, abortion and divorce all illegal. Contraception too, if that were practically possible.
The Catholic Church is the biggest organised hypocrisy in the world. In the Church's home of Europe and to a great extent in America, the overwhelming majority of Catholics silently reject most of the Church's teachings, whilst the poor in developing countries slavishly adhere to them which contributes to the persistence of poverty, disease and death.
Look at our own Catholic political leaders. Blair is a Catholic in all but name and regularly attends mass. Do his policies on gay rights reflect Catholic teaching? Or take Charles Kennedy, a practising Catholic. The Lib Dems have the strongest policies on gay rights of any of our parties. And do either of them think contraception is wrong? Ann Widdecombe, another Catholic, is at least consistent with her faith in voting against legislation on gay equality.
It used to be said that Catholics took their religion table d'hote and Anglicans à la carte. That's no longer true. Catholics in the west pick only the bits that their liberal democratic stomachs can digest.
This goes beyond issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality. I have yet to meet a Catholic who believes in transubstantiation, i.e. that in the mass the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. I don't know why. It's no more bizarre than believing in God or Heaven and Hell. But not only do they not believe it. They argue with me that it's not church doctrine, that it's just 'symbolic', which is what Anglicans believe. In vain do I tell them that this was one of the disputes behind the Reformation and that the doctrine has been reiterated by subsequent Popes.
When I was about 10, a nun who wanted to convince me of the truth of transubstantiation told me an enchanting story, just the kind of delightful and comforting parable that you would want to tell a 10 year old. A little boy who doubted that the bread became Christ's body, took the wafer from his mouth, wrapped it in a handkerchief and took it home. He then put it into a saucepan of boiling water. Within a few moments, the saucepan was overflowing with blood. Christ's blood, no less. Frothing scarlet blood spilled over the stove and ran down on to the kitchen floor - like supper time in Dennis Nilson's Muswell Hill flat. Like any 10 year old, a part of me wanted to put this to the test but I was too bloody scared. Occasionally today, when I'm boiling an egg, that image that the evil old bitch implanted in my immature mind comes into my head.
So it's pleasing that if you stand outside a Catholic church in Britain today you won't see many young people coming out. Just one or two small children - because Catholic parents use contraception. Very few teenagers. Lots of older people. In evaluating the recent Papacy, don't forget that the Catholic church in Europe is in terminal decline. In Ireland, only a handful of boys enter a seminary each year. There are now more practising Muslims in Britain than practising Catholics.
OK, enough pussyfooting around. This isn't a column in The Guardian.
I hate the Catholic Church.
I hated the late Pope.
I hate the enormous contribution that the Catholic Church and the Pope have made to the sum of human misery in this world.
Like everyone else, I've done things I regret; many small acts of unkindness and selfishness to people I knew. But at least I've never promulgated views that caused misery to millions of people that I've never met. No gay teenager growing up in a strict Catholic family has ever hung himself with his dressing-gown cord because of me. No woman in the Third World has ever spent her life in multiple child birth or poverty because of my teachings. Nobody has ever died a slow, agonising death from AIDS because I said contraception was sinful.
Ironically, that all sounds a bit self-righteous. But, of course, most of us have never done those things.
The Pope did. So, almost certainly, will the next Pope. And all in the name of a religion based on a loving God.