Stephen Fry is good at taking himself seriously while pretending not to take himself seriously. But slowly, as he gets older and grander, his self-effacing mask is slipping. He's becoming less and
less of a comedian, more and more a sanctimonious bore. Look at the way he has taken it upon himself to denounce, with such gravitas, Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Britain. In his interview with the BBC yesterday – see above – Fry insists that the Pope should be free to come to Britain. "How could I hold my head up if I objected to that?" he says. What Fry cannot not accept, he explains, is that the Pope's time in the UK should be treated as a state visit.
Fair enough, I suppose. But I can't help thinking that what niggles at Fry is not fact that taxpayers are paying for Benedict XVI to be here. After all, it is easy to think of bigger wastes of taxpayer money than the £millions being spent to make sure the Pope is not physically attacked on British soil. No, what Fry really can't stand is Catholicism. Note the way in which, in the
BBC clip, he calls the Catholic Church a "sect," before correcting himself. It is either a joke or a geniune slip of tongue; either way, it informs us of what Fry really thinks about the Catholic faith.
The Pope's state visit has given Fry an excuse to rail against an institution he considers out-dated and sinister. He is not alone, of course. And, as I said in my last blog post, Catholics shouldn't complain too much about being hated. It comes with the religious turf. What bothers me, though – and what I expect bothers many others – is the self-righteousness of Stephen Fry. He exudes the smugness of somebody who has become accustomed to never being told that he is wrong.
In the BBC interview, he quickly settles into his favourite role, that of teacher to the masses, the avuncular QI host eloquently dishing out bits of wisdom to his adoring public. "It is a rump accident of history that this place [the Vatican] has an autonomous, or autocratic, absolute monarchy of one organisation," he says loftily, as if his opinion (and that is his
opinion) has become indisputable by virtue of it being his opinion.
Let's hope that now that the Pope has landed, the media's focus might shift away from the celebrity atheists, and that - for once - we might hear a little less of Stephen Fry.