I. It is the Pagan who charges her with excessive Holiness.
"You Catholics," he tells us, "are far too hard on sin and not nearly indulgent enough towards poor human nature. Let me take as an instance the sins of the flesh. Now here is a set of desires implanted by God or Nature (as you choose to name the Power behind life) for wise and indeed essential purposes. These desires are probably the very fiercest known to man and certainly the most alluring; and human nature is, as we know, an extraordinarily inconsistent and vacillating thing. Now I am aware that the abuse of these passions leads to disaster and that Nature has her inexorable laws and penalties; but you Catholics add a new horror to life by an absurd and irrational insistence on the offence that this abuse causes before God. For not only do you fiercely denounce the "acts of sin," as you name them, but you presume to go deeper still to the very desire itself, as it would seem. You are unpractical and cruel enough to say that the very thought of sin deliberately entertained can cut off the soul that indulges in it from the favour of God.
. . .
That kind of attitude is too fantastically fastidious altogether. You Catholics seem to aim at a standard that is simply not desirable; both your ends and your methods are equally inhuman and equally unsuitable for the world we have to live in. True religion is surely something far more sensible than this; true religion should not strain and strive after the impossible, should not seek to improve human nature by a process of mutilation.
. . . If you were less holy and more natural, less idealistic and more practical, you would be of a greater service to the world which you desire to help. Religion should be a sturdy, virile growth; not the delicate hothouse blossom which you make it."