Dawkins 'intrigued' by church poll finding


CATHOLICS:PEOPLE WHO describe themselves as Catholic but do not accept the church’s key teachings should be “honest” and admit they no longer belong to the faith, atheist author and scientist Prof Richard Dawkins has told a Dublin audience.

He said he was intrigued by this week’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll showing almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of Catholics believed the bread and wine which was blessed during Mass “only represents the body and blood” of Christ.

Just 26 per cent said they believed the bread and wine transformed into Christ’s body and blood in accordance with the doctrine of transubstantiation. “If they don’t believe in transubstantiation then they are not Roman Catholics,” Prof Dawkins said.

“If they are honest they should say they are no longer Roman Catholics.” The survey finding “should come in for a fair degree of ridicule”, he added. “I wouldn’t hold back on the ridicule.”

Prof Dawkins was speaking at a public interview in the National Concert Hall on Tuesday night as part of the Dublin Writers Festival. He said he was encouraged by the growth of the atheist movement in Ireland, and a gradual shift towards “science and reason” at the expense of the church.

“The number of priests is going down beautifully,” he said. The child abuse controversy has eroded church authority and the “extraordinarily ham-fisted way” it responded “has helped”.