I was blogging on the day of the Pope's funeral and had the TV on quietly in the background. I was startled to hear someone say that the mass was being celebrated by a rap singer.
I knew the church was trying to stop the exodus of young people but rapping over the old bastard's coffin seemed a bit extreme.
I had, of course, misheard. The mass was being celebrated by Ratzinger, the artist now known as Pope Benedict the Sixteenth.
It was Ratzinger who said that homosexuality was an "objective disorder". This morning on the radio the Archbishop of Cardiff explained that this was "technical language", presumably like Microsoft Windows telling you that you've performed an "illegal operation", which doesn't mean you should hand yourself in at the nearest police station.
The Archbishop went on to reassure us that orientation was not a problem. The problem is "how we live out our sexuality", by which he meant if you're gay you must not live out your sexuality at all but remain celibate like the Catholic priesthood.
Ah, celibacy! Now that's what I'd call an objective disorder and a deviation from the natural.
Sex is one of the most powerful human drives. Indeed some scientists say it is the most powerful, more powerful than hunger. So to refrain from any sexual activity throughout one's life is about as natural as not eating. Personally, I go further and subscribe to the late Alex Comfort's view that sex is a pleasure in the same way that eating is a pleasure, in addition to being a biological necessity. But the church treats sex as a different order of pleasure and necessity, singling it out as a 'precious gift of God' which must be restricted and circumscribed to a degree that other gifts of God are not.
It's also a bit rich to ask the millions of homosexuals in the world to practice celibacy when so few Catholic priests manage to achieve this. The evidence for this assertion can only be anecdotal, apart from the recorded numbers of priests who leave the priesthood and marry. But I've known several Catholic seminarians and ex-seminarians in my life who have spoken openly to me on this subject. So I've heard about the levels of sexual activity in seminaries and the huge number of priests who have clandestine partners, either male or female. But many priests reconcile this with their vows by contending that celibacy does not mean abstaining from sex. It simply means not getting married and having children.
Nice one, Father!
Holy Mackeral! I may be objectively disordered but I've been celibate all my life!
In recent weeks we keep being told that there are one billion Catholics in the world.
Does anything strike you as odd about that figure?
Well, it's wonderfully round and precise for such a huge number.
You don't usually get that when you're dealing with astronomically large numbers. The earth doesn't rotate at 2,000 kilometres an hour. It's 1,670.
The Moon isn't 240,000 miles from Earth. It's 238,712.
So how do they arrive at that figure of one billion? The first source I found on Google just said that there are various criteria for determining membership but didn't elaborate. The most accurate criterion would obviously be those who attend mass regularly. But then I found some statistics published in the newspaper of the Holy See which reveal that the one billion figure (give or take a few hundred thousand) is based on the number of people baptised Catholics.
So you can take that figure with a bucketful of salt. In fact you can take it with the contents of all the salt mines on the planet and you'd still end up with a massive over-estimate.
It means that, as a baptised Catholic, I'm counted in that one billion who are supposedly rejoicing today at the election of the poisonous Ratzinger.
It's a cunning trick of the Catholic church that, so far as they are concerned, you can never leave it. If you're baptised as a non-reasoning infant, you're a Catholic for life.
If, at 14 or 16 or 21 you say "I have engaged in long study of the doctrines of Catholicism, together with those of other world religions and have read the writings of philosophers from Plato to Sartre and can no longer accept the validity of Catholic theology", or if you just say "You can stick all that bollocks up your arse, Father", you'll simply be called a 'lapsed Catholic' but still counted in the statistics as a Catholic until your dying day.
I'm surprised that New Labour haven't cottoned on to this one. They, like the Catholic church have suffered a massive loss of members. But if they counted everyone still alive who had ever joined the Labour Party they'd be the biggest political party in the history of the world.
You never know, it might even be a nice round number like 10 million.