- (Photo: considerhumanism.org via The Christian Post)
World-famous atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins took to Twitter on Monday to comment on Pope Benedict XVI's decision to retire as head of the Roman Catholic Church, mocking the pontiff for a "wasted life" and no sex.
"I feel sorry for the Pope and all old Catholic priests. Imagine having a wasted life to look back on and no sex," Dawkins wrote on his Twitter page. The God Delusion author was referring to the life of celibacy that Catholic priests are required to take when choosing the path of ministry.
Pope Benedict XVI announced on Monday morning that he will be stepping down from his position on Feb. 28, citing his "advanced age" for his decision. The 85-year-old pontiff will become the first pope in over 600 years to retire.
Commentators and church leaders from around the world, such as Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, have supported Benedict XVI's decision, with Dolan expressing his "admiration" for the pope's decision to put the church before himself.
It is not the first time Dawkins has made controversial remarks targeting the pope. In 2010, the secular campaigner and fellow atheist author Christopher Hitchens, who passed away in 2011, called on Pope Benedict to be "arrested for crimes against humanity," during the pontiff's state visit to London, England.
"This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence," Dawkins said, referring to the many child sex abuse scandals that have consumed the church in the past decade.
"This man is not above or outside the law," added Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great. "The institutionalized concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment.
Most recently, Dawkins lost a debate against freshly retired Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, which was held at the University of Cambridge in England.
The much-publicized debate pitted Dawkins and his team against the former head of the Anglican Communion on the topic of whether religion has a place in the 21st century. The atheist team lost the debate in front of an 800 member audience, with the house voting 324 to 136 in favor of Dr. William's argument that "the notion that religious commitment can be purely a private matter is one that runs against the grain of religious history."
The pope's own Twitter page, which is updated by the pontiff himself, has still made no mention of the retirement. His last message, from Feb. 10, reads:
We must trust in the mighty power of God's mercy. We are all sinners, but His grace transforms us and makes us new.
- Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) February 10, 2013