Mark Shea posted a transcript of an exchange between Father Rutler, that good and gentle priest, and the indefatigable enemy of God, Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens riled Father Rutler and many others with his usual distasteful and profane rant against God. This took place back in May, before the fracas over Mother Teresa’s letters.
FATHER RUTLER: I have met saints. You cannot explain the existence of saints without God. I was nine years chaplain with Mother Teresa [inaudible]. You have called her a whore, a demagogue. She’s in heaven that you don’t believe in, but she’s praying for you. If you do not believe in heaven, that’s why you drink.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Excuse me?
FATHER RUTLER: That’s why you drink. God has offered us happiness, all of us. And you will either die a Catholic or a madman, and I’ll tell you the difference.
And secondly, I’m an officer with this club. And this conversation has been beneath the dignity of this club.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBER: No it hasn’t been.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Well, it is now.
DAVID HOROWITZ: Okay. I–
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: It is now.
FATHER RUTLER: And I’d just say that…
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Fine host you turned out to be.
FATHER RUTLER: …this club, we’ve had very open discussion. But we’ve never heard such vulgarity and bigotry.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Till now.
FATHER RUTLER: And I am, I don’t want to see this in this club again. And I think I represent the officers of this noble…
DAVID HOROWITZ: All right.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: Your claim to know what a [saint] is or what heaven is is as absurd as your [inaudible] arrogance, your unkindness and your lack of hospitality.
DAVID HOROWITZ: See? Everybody –
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: You should be ashamed.
FATHER RUTLER: [inaudible]
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: And you are supposed to represent a church of charity and kindness?
DAVID HOROWITZ: I said this evening was going to be interesting and unpredictable.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS Especially [inaudible].
DAVID HOROWITZ: And anyway, thank you all for coming. And to all a good night.
How often have we heard an anti-religious bigot say: “And you are supposed to represent a church of charity and kindness”? Hitchens like all secularists rails against any attempt of religious people to bring public policy in line with the Judeo-Christian tradition, and like all secularists he expects us to go along willingly and politely into oblivion. Well, to quote the old curmudgeon himself: “I won’t have it.”
God bless Father Rutler.