As tension mounts between members of the Conservative Party and of the Cabinet over Brexit, it emerged today that the Church of Scotland had joined the Remain campaign and that Pope Francis had intervened.
‘To break away from Europe and all it signifies would simply be unchristian. We should be building bridges and communities, not breaking and fragmenting them,’ the Pope told an American Airlines stewardess over an in-flight cocktail. ‘It would be like Henry VIII all over again, and you know what that led to.’
Vatican officials were quick to nuance this forthright Papal statement.
Said Vatican spokesperson Fr Fredrico Lombardi, ‘Not all pronouncements of His Holiness are binding upon the faithful. There are three kinds of pronouncement: those which are ex cathedra (as defined by Vatican I – and personally I don’t think this fellow is going to risk that sort of thing); solemn pronouncements in Encyclicals (like Laudato Si – though the faithful were somewhat puzzled over what actually to do about it); and declarations ex aeroplano – which (in Church parlance) can be taken cum grano salis.’‘
Asked for their reactions, in conversation with Andrew Marr, two prominent Catholics in the Out campaign (Ian Duncan-Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg) simply replied: ‘Who is he to judge?’