Catholic Church cruel and hypocritical - Mantel

Anita Singh

THE Catholic Church "is not an institution for respectable people", according to Hilary Mantel, the Booker Prize-winning author.

Mantel was raised a Catholic and educated at convent school.

But the writer (59) said child abuse scandals involving Catholic priests demonstrated the "cruelty" and "hypocrisy" of the Church.

Asked if she would call for a priest on her deathbed, Mantel replied: "No. I might very well call for a Church of England vicar, but I would not call for a Catholic priest.

"I think that nowadays the Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people."

She said of the paedophilia scandals: "The fact that it could happen, the extent of the denial, the cover-up, the hypocrisy, the cruelty... When I was a child I wondered why priests and nuns were not nicer people. I thought that they were amongst the worst people I knew.

"But in a cold-blooded way, as a writer I've had full value from Catholicism -- I can say that.

"It's a great training in doubleness -- this looks like bread but it is actually a man's body, this looks like wine but it's actually blood."

Mantel's latest novel, Bring Up The Bodies, is out this month. It is a sequel to Wolf Hall, an account of the life of Thomas Cromwell which won the Man Booker Prize in 2009.