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November 1999

THE NAKED PRINCE

THE EDITOR

During his time as Cardinal Hume's secretary, Bishop Crowley of Middlesborough found himself marvelling at the positive reaction to the Cardinal's addresses at various luncheon and breakfast engagements. He recalled one such visit to the House of Commons where, after the Cardinal's talk, the mixed group of MP's in attendance began "sharing their own faith commitment across the dining-room table." They "had found," writes Crowley, "almost total common ground at the deepest level." It left him pondering "the potency of the Gospel message when given with unassuming authority." What the Bishop was careful not to ponder, however, was the possibility that the late Cardinal impressed the masses precisely because he and his message lacked "potency" and "authority"; that the "total common ground" they discovered was simply the familiar, comforting refrain of via media Anglicanism, embodied by Hume (and, indeed, by Crowley himself); that the "faith commitment" they shared across the table was, therefore, just a warm, fuzzy afterglow engendered by a warm, fuzzy prelate who, ultimately, was as undemanding as a Church of England vicar with a social conscience.

To a neo-pagan world hostile to religion but partial to a little nebulous "spirituality," the Cardinal's Social Gospel appeal was simply irresistible. From his Oxford University days in the 1950s where he socialised with the young Communists [pun intended], through his studied dissent from Humanae Vitae and his taking tea with Hans Kung at Archbishop's house, to his routine undermining or dismissal of Church teachings, directives and guidelines; from his belittling of the restoration of Christendom as dangerous nostalgia, through his defining rebuke of orthodox Catholics at the inaugural Faith of Our Fathers conference, to his unequivocal declaration for via media Catholicism on national radio and deathbed promotion of the nefarious Common Ground Project - coursing through his life like a single luminous thread was an increasingly 'progressive' spiritual purview: ever more pliable, worldly, syncretistic. The Basil Hume depicted in Sabiha Rumani Malik's article which follows therefore rings true - a veritable identi-kit picture of the Modernist-man described in Pius X's Pascendi, as summarised by Fr. Carney in our October 1998 edition.

No wonder the media had little trouble selling this cuddly, plasticine persona - 'the people's prelate' - to the mob. They understood the language of compromise when they heard it i.e. faith presented as "lurve;" a mere sentiment of the heart. One weekday afternoon a few years ago I happened across this quintessential Hume at work in Westminster cathedral. He was saying Mass for a group of older schoolboys. What passed for his 'sermon' comprised of asking the troops: "What did Jesus say?" The boys responded lamely: "Love God and love one another." Twice more he asked and they responded on cue. That was it. One felt that the Cardinal thought this exercise somehow terribly clever. To onlookers, it was excruciating pap. Just another missed opportunity to feed the sheep something substantial and Catholic. This banal example is indicative of the vacuity of the Hume era, which naturally won over the rulers and subjects of perhaps the most irreligious society on earth.

What continues to mystify and disturb, however, is the way in which even Catholics normally awake to postconciliar poseurs and the curse of human respect have accepted at face value the Cardinal's perennial lip-service to orthodoxy - despite their awareness that dissent, disobedience and scandal ran riot and Modernism became institutionalised with his blessing. Orthodox journals like Australia's AD 2000 and Canada's Catholic Insight have run hagiographic pieces on Hume which accuse Christian Order of being "angry" and "bitter" about the Cardinal (I really must seek counselling!). CO's assessment just can't be right, they reason, because…. well, Basil was so popular and "deeply loved." By whom and why they don't say. It's just an intuition they have… that 'ole fuzzy feeling of the heart championed by the Cardinal himself, and the truth be damned. The drip-feed of Mainstream Modernism into the orthodox bloodstream is painful to watch.

And so the Hume bandwagon rolls on in the most surprising places. News regarded as 'off-message' is rationalised or ignored and quickly buried. Thus the hallowed party line goes uncontested until the surreal begins to sound plausible - like the photographer who thinks he has recorded the outline of Our Lady presiding over the Cardinal's burial proceedings! It is important, therefore, that those of us who still recognise a naked emperor when we see one challenge this ecclesiastically correct juggernaut, which has convinced even faithful Catholics that Basil Hume represents the acceptable face of Modernism. To this end, we reprint Ms Malik's article. And in case her unwitting revelations still fail to convince our critics that we've had His Eminence figured all along, we include an appropriate critique to assist their ruminations. The evasion, half-truths, dissembling and plain ignorance that continue to mark the relentless hype about the Cardinal will not stifle our lone but blameless cry - mortifying though it is - that this feted Prince of the Church had no clothes.


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