The kicker is this bit: "It’s the strange thing about this church, it is obsessed with sex, absolutely obsessed. Now, they will say we with our permissive society and our rude jokes, we are obsessed. No, we have a healthy attitude, we like it, it’s fun, it’s jolly, because it’s a primary impulse it can be dangerous and dark and difficult, it’s a bit like food in that respect only even more exciting. The only people who are obsessed with food are anorexics and the morbidly obese, and that in erotic terms is the Catholic Church in a nutshell."
An excerpt of Fry's speech has been reproduced below. You can either search Youtube for the whole debate or read the full transcript here.
I genuinely believe that the Catholic Church is not, to put it at its mildest, a force for good in the world, and therefore it is important for me to try and martial my facts as well I can to explain why I think that.
But I want first of all to say that I have no quarrel and no argument and I wish to express no contempt for individual devout and pious members of that church. It would be impertinent and wrong of me to express any antagonism towards any individual who wishes to find salvation in whatever form they wish to express it. That to me is sacrosanct as much as any article of faith is sacrosanct to anyone of any church or any faith in the world. It’s very important.
It’s also very important to me, as it happens, that I have my own beliefs. They are a belief in the Enlightenment, a belief in the eternal adventure of trying to discover moral truth in the world, and there is nothing, sadly, that the Catholic Church and its hierarchs likes to do more than to attack the Enlightenment. It did so at the time: reference was made to Galileo and the fact that he was tortured, for trying to explain the Copernican theory of the Universe. Just imagine in this square mile how many people were burned for reading the Bible in English. And one of the principle burners and torturers of those who tried to read the Bible in English, here in London, was Thomas More.
Now, that’s a long time ago, it’s not relevant, except that it was only last century that Thomas More was made a saint, and it was only in the year 2000, that the last pope, the Pole, he made Thomas More the Patron Saint of Politicians. This is a man who put people on the wrack for daring to own a Bible in English: he tortured them for owning a Bible in their own language.
The idea that the Catholic Church exists to disseminate the word of the Lord is nonsense. It is the only owner of the Truth for the billions that it likes to boast about, because those billions are uneducated and poor, as again it likes to boast about. It’s perhaps unfair of me, as a gay man, to moan at this enormous institution, which is the largest and most powerful church on Earth, has over a billion, as they like to tell us, members, each one of whom is under strict instructions to believe the dogmas of the church, but may wrestle with them personally of course.
Do you know who would be the last person ever to be accepted as a prince of the Church? The Galileean carpenter. That Jew. They would kick him out before he tried to cross the threshold. He would be so ill-at-ease in the Church. What would he think, what would he think of St. Peter’s? What would he think of the wealth, and the power, and the self-justification, and the wheedling apologies? The Pope could decide that all this power, all this wealth, this hierarchy of princes and bishops and archbishops and priests and monks and nuns could be sent out in the world with money and art treasures, to put them back in the countries that they once raped and violated, they could give that money away, and they could concentrate on the apparent essence of their belief, and then, I would stand here and say the Catholic Church may well be a force for good in the world, but until that day, it is not. Thank you.