A respondent on the English Catholic writer Damian Thompson’s Holy Smoke weblog quotes a useful passage from a recent book that defended Pope Benedict XVI from his detractors:

Others have noted that we live in a time of hysteria about paedophilia, a mob psychology that calls to mind the Salem witch-hunts of 1692. . . . All three of the boarding schools I attended employed teachers whose affections for small boys overstepped the bounds of propriety. That was indeed reprehensible. Nevertheless, if, fifty years on, they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers, I should have felt obliged to come to their defence, even as the victim of one of them (an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience).

The Roman Catholic Church has borne a heavy share of such retrospective opprobrium. For all sorts of reasons I dislike the Roman Catholic Church. But I dislike unfairness even more, and I can’t help wondering whether this one institution has been unfairly demonized over the issue, especially in Ireland and America. . . .

The writer goes on to warn against “the remarkable power of the mind to concoct false memories, especially when abetted by unscrupulous therapists and mercenary lawyers.”

The book? Professor Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion (pages 315-316) . The response with more of the quote appears in Professor Dawkins Discovers He Can’t Arrest the Pope .

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