Consider the failure of the “Protest the Pope” stunt yesterday. On a sunny afternoon, in a city of 10 million people, a crowd of fewer than 10,000 protestors followed the anti-Catholic bandwagon. Richard Dawkins, Johann Hari, Stephen Fry et al may regard that as a good result, but if (at most) one Londoner in a thousand takes to the streets to register disapproval at the use of their taxes to host the Pope, then I’d say the secularists have misjudged the public mood, wouldn’t you? And look at what a thin demographic sliver of the population they represented: mostly white, middle-class, metropolitan. (Needless to say, none of them could be bothered to make the trek up to Birmingham: the Pope may be the atheists’ Antichrist, but you mustn’t let your principles get in the way of a lazy Sunday morning cappuccino.)
Compare the protestors to the Catholics in Hyde Park: old Polish ladies, tweedy gents from the shires, African hospital cleaners, self-consciously cool teenagers, Filipino checkout assistants and, as one of my friends put it, “some rather tarty-looking traveller women who’d obviously had a glass or two”. They don’t call it the Catholic Church for nothing: if not a universal cross-section of humanity, it was a damn sight closer to it than the humanist smugfest.
Reading this, I couldn't help but recall Oscar Wilde's quip that the Catholic Church is "for saints and sinners alone — for respectable people, the Anglican Church will do."