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October 2000



Right from the outset, Tony Blair and Improved New Labour were likened in certain quarters to a large mug of cappuccino - lots of froth, but not much coffee. As tirelessly documented in this magazine over many years, it is a simile tailor made for the posturing clerics who govern the Church in Britain today; the 'cappuccino clerics' who have overseen the emergence of the 'cafeteria Catholics' who now populate our increasingly Protestanised local Churches in Scotland and England & Wales. Indeed, the similarities between Blair's New Labour and the Bishops' New Church were never more clearly delineated than during the rapid succession of crises which befell the Government around the same time that the recent Faith of Our Fathers conference was laying bare the sins of the British episcopates.

The public humiliation endured by the Prime Minister in early June during an address to 10,000 participants at the annual conference of the Women's Institute - the apolitical, genteel epitome of "middle Britain" - where he was slow hand-clapped and heckled by sections of the audience, triggered a veritable implosion. A series of highly confidential memos written by Mr Blair and his chief polling/focus group guru were subsequently leaked, revealing new levels of political cynicism and superficiality at the heart of New Labour as well as complete incomprehension on the part of the Premier and his well-heeled liberal elite as to why they were perceived as "out of touch with British gut instincts," as Mr Blair put it. "Something has gone seriously wrong", one memo quotes Northern Ireland Secretary and sodomite Peter Mandelson as saying, "but what?" For the answer he need only have contemplated the press headlines, which summarised the general consensus even in heartland Labour constituencies: "Catalogue of empty catchwords"; "Yawning gap between rhetoric and reality"; "Arrogance and an inability to say sorry"; "Rage against the Spin Machine"; "Out of touch, yes, and contemptuous into the bargain"..........

The point is that such accusations could just as easily have been coined for the Catholic episcopates of the United Kingdom and their insufferable bureaucracies. And Faith of Our Fathers 2000 was surely the Catholic equivalent of the WI's slow hand-clap aimed at Mr Blair's grossly hypocritical platitudes and vacuous soundbites: as if to say to our Shepherds that we too are fed up with the duplicity and emptiness behind their pious cant; aggrieved by the unbridgeable divide that has opened up between the Catholic grassroots and their Modernist pseudo-elite; disgusted by their refusal to accept responsibility and apologise for the rebellious state of the local Churches and the heinous wrongs they have done to us and our children; outraged by their equanimity and inaction before the ongoing weekly loss of hundreds of souls to the Church; utterly bewildered by their obstinate refusal to open their eyes and change course.

Not that such comparisons should surprise us. After all, it is only logical that the more our local Churches converge with the world, as the "synthesis of all heresies" takes ever deeper root in the hearts and minds of British hierarchies steeped in a social Gospel and the totemic "spirit of Vatican II", the more striking analogies between secular and ecclesiastical governors and their liberal cronies become. "He lacks conviction, he is all spin and presentation," writes the New Labour polling expert in one of the leaked memos about the electorate's view of Mr Blair, echoing a major Labour benefactor who recently complained that Blair is unmanly and without an inner core of strong convictions. But if the Prime Minister's well-documented desire to eschew an ideological centre of gravity in favour of "what works" - to elevate pragmatism to the zenith of political life - has thus emasculated him, surely our Shepherds and the Faith itself have been equally diminished by pragmatic amorality. This stems from a lack of conviction that eschews Catholic dogma and discipline in favour of endless hollow sloganising about "community" and "renewal" and "change" - which very same vocabulary, by the way, dominated the Blair address which infuriated the WI. Any number of other examples could be produced to underline the similarities, such as Archbishop Vincent Nichols' recent preference for realpolitik in lieu of principled, resolute resistance during negotiations with the Government over its obsessive push to repeal the Section 28 guidelines banning promotion of homosexual propaganda in schools. His pragmatic approach ultimately saw the Daily Mail editorial of 27 March refer to the nation being let down by a "shabby and misguided betrayal at the eleventh hour [by] Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops", while one outraged member of his new flock informed the Daily Telegraph that the Catholics of Birmingham had thought they were getting a Shepherd, not a lawyer. One thinks, too, of the infamous Common Good statement issued in 1996 by the Bishops of England and Wales. In classic Blairite manner it reduced abortion to a "single issue", adopting the same sort of anti-ideological, fence-sitting posture which led the aforementioned New Labour insider to accuse Mr Blair of lacking "the inner core of strong convictions that would enable him to make a confident choice in a morally complex issue" [Observer, 2 July 20OOI.

It seems that in seeking a pragmatic rather than decisively Catholic solution to heresy and heterodoxy - in looking to create a big tent, if not a broad church, within which even the most aggressive dissenters can take refuge and still retain a Catholic identity (such as the heretical Catholic Women's Network) - our bishops have come to hold beliefs that are incompatible. Just like their secular counterpart. "He genuinely believes in marriage," writes a Sunday Times columnist of Mr Blair, "but equally genuinely that no one lifestyle can be judged better than any other, a position that undermines marriage." Hence his contradictory pro-abortion stance and fiercely stated belief that those in favour of retaining Section 28 are simply bigots who hate homosexuals and who, presumably, represent the dreaded "forces of conservatism" he blames for all Britain's woes. Christian Order readers and like-minded faithful Catholics are almost certainly held in similar blameworthy regard for the Church's woes by the British hierarchies.

It goes without saying that the version of Christianity favoured by Mr Blair, which conveniently stretches to accommodate such tortuous double standards, is that promoted by Hans Kung, whom the Prime Minister periodically entertains after the fashion of the late Cardinal Hume, and whose heretical works and syncretic Global Ethics Foundation [See CO Dec. 1997, Jan. 1998] both he and his gay rights activist wife Cherie are known to greatly admire. One can easily see how an insidious movement like Kung's Global Ethic could yet become the internationally recognised pseudo-religious facade for putting a spiritual gloss on an underlying philosophy which sets aside "what is true" for "what works". The articles which follow reveal something of the diabolic impact this pragmatic drift is having within and without the Church. Apart from anything else, it is clear that a Church which has plumbed the depths described by Pat McKeever is simply incapable of providing the spiritual, moral and intellectual leadership so desperately required by the dissolute education system depicted by Harriet Murphy. While Dr Slysz, in his examination of how an essentially anti-Christian EU has been embraced by politicians and prelates alike, relates the most telling chapter thus far in the unholy dovetail of Church and State we are witnessing. The seismic shift in content, conviction and emphasis evident in the juxtaposed Jubilee Prayers of 1751 and 2000 also sheds light on how Catholic divergence has given rise to EU convergence.

Still, if a pervasive liberalism has seen the inexorable rise of vacuity, hypocrisy, arrogance and worse among our leaders secular and spiritual, there is, as noted above, at least a belated groundswell of resistance by commonsense commoners in both spheres: among voters weary of political spin, which demeans the Westminster system and treats the electorate with contempt while tossing it gimmicks and giveaways; among Catholics fed up with episcopal humbug, which masks the Modernist wasteland lurking behind the Catholic facade duly trotted out for televised funeral and consecration extravaganzas at Westminster Cathedral. The primary difference, of course, is that just as voters brought Mr Blair and New Labour to office, so too they have it in their power to send them packing, which has at least necessitated token amounts of soul-searching, if not admissions of guilt, by the Prime Minister. No such luck for the Catholic faithful. We are stuck with our unrepentant Blairite bishops and their New Church until such time as a reforming pontiff takes centre stage. For it is readily apparent that nothing less than the raising up of a Pope Saint will suffice to arrest and reverse the present downward spiral of God's Church and thus civilization itself. Only a Pope desirous of emulating his illustrious reforming predecessors, in the same way that St. Pius X desired St. Gregory I to be his model as a reformer and corrector, will make a difference. For such a Pope we must suffer joyfully and pray always. Meanwhile, the bishops must be called to account at every opportunity and appeals to Rome stepped up accordingly.


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