Flat Out

Our picture shows Justin Welby prostrating himself at the shrine of those killed in the Jallianwala Bagh incident in April 1919. There can be little doubt that the death of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators has become for many Indians a symbol of all that was wrong with the British Raj. But what does it mean, now, to apologise? And indeed was the Archbishop’s powerful gesture (as the newspapers glibly concluded) an apology after all?

There has arisen a modern cultus of historical responsibility. Soldiers are prosecuted for actions conscientiously undertaken half a century ago. Modern institutions, which allegedly benefitted from the profits of slavery, are asked to make reparation. And Africans whose ancestors were never themselves enslaved, claim that the benefits should somehow accrue to them.

Wits ask where it will all end: are the Italian, Danish and French governments to be held responsible for their respective invasions of England? And what, they ask (more seriously), of reparations for the German atrocities against Poland and France?

Surely there is a better way. The European Union, some say, is a means of discharging, through mutual co-operation, the burdens and responsibilities of the past. Europe’s recent and fragile unity, after all, is built on the bones of past conflicts.

Justin Welby’s silent prostration – though, in the end, it will prove unsatisfactory to all parties – is perhaps the only intelligent response. We are necessarily unable to make adequate reparations for actions undertaken in another country and a different time and by people not ourselves. But we can silently contemplate, in the face of those past events, the inscrutable will of God. Vengeance is mine (and mercy) says the Lord of Hosts.

Remainer Theology

Pace the clearly articulated opinions of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the Devil (aka ‘Old Nick’) is alive and well and actively engaged in UK politics. A Scottish lawyer, appearing before the UK Supreme Court had no hesitation in locating him as the head of Her Majesty’s Government, naming Boris Johnson as ‘The Father of Lies’.

This unparliamentary language is apparently permitted in submissions before the Supreme Court. It takes to a new level the rage and anger which is rapidly consuming Remain supporters.

Jean-Jacques lives!

The notion of the ‘noble savage’ has surely long been consigned to the realm of mythology – like Adam and Eve and the Fall.

It is therefore the more astonishing that it has recently re-emerged as a major theme of the Instrumentum Laboris for the Amazon Synod. The idea of the Amazon being inhabited by unsullied sons of nature, mystically at one with the primeval forests in which they live, is mere fantasy whose primary purpose if to critique the modern West. The idea that these people, with their traditions of infanticide, abandoning the aged and infirm, and hegemonic social structures, have much to teach the Catholic Church approaches the absurd.

There is nobility among savages; but it is extravagant to claim these societies, as a whole, are models of moral rectitude, any more than any others. Human diversity does not carry with it, as the IL implies, either moral superiority, or even moral equivalence.

The resurgence of the Rouseauist myth is hard to explain. It seems to be rooted (like attempts to justify homosexuality by appeal to same- sex activity among other species) in a need to denigrate the mores of more advanced societies by claiming that early (‘pre-lapserian’) practices are more ’natural’ and better.  

But – and here’s the rub – one needs to be carefully selective. On that principle there would be no end of rapacious and licentious activities which could be justified and promoted.  

And did those Feet…

The recent transition of homosexuality from deviance to what Americans call ‘normalcy’* was powerfully portrayed at this year’s Last Night of the Proms when a lesbian contralto, waving a Gay Liberation flag sang ‘Rule Britannia’. Only the introduction of Crib Sets with two Fathers and no Mary could top that.

Remain supporters, be it noted, were enthusiastically waving their EU flags during the singing of ‘Jerusalem’. The rape of what were once treasured symbols of patriotism is now complete.

*’Normalcy’ is presumably to normality what ‘gender’ is to sex.

Parliamentary Paradoxes

Have I got this straight?

It all began with a woman in favour of Remaining pretending to Leave, opposed by a man in favour of Leaving pretending to Remain.

Then there is the paradox of the Labour Party – whose constituencies were two to one in favour of Brexit in 2016 – moving, in 2919, to support Remain.

And the paradox of the Brexit Party – bent upon splitting the Leave vote, thereby assuring the success of a Remain alliance.

Boris Johnson, it is true, has united the Tory Party behind Brexit , but paradoxically at the cost of expelling twenty-one senior Tories, and so losing his tenuous majority.

The ultimate paradox, of course, is of Remainers claiming that, because of the 52/48 split at the Referendum, concessions should be made to them in any Withdrawal Treaty- when no one could remotely suppose that, had they won, they would have made equivalent concessions to Leavers.

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

So the author if Laudato si! has appeared at a papal mass in Madagascar wearing a chasuble with leopard skin orphreys. Hardy a fashion statement, Francis in the frankly fake (alliterative as it is) was also a grotesque miscalculation: there are no leopards in Madagascar. But the hunting theme could catch on.

Wits are already asking what he will wear next. A seal skin chasuble in the arctic? A grisly bear outfit in the Canadian Rockies? And what will he wear in the Amazon? And will he take his wife?

Germania Ulterior

The long predicted announcement by the German bishops that they are setting up a “Synodal Way of the Catholic Church in Germany” has been made. The Synod, it appears,, will address and clarify key issues such as: ‘authority and separation of powers,’ ‘sexual morality,’ ‘the priestly mode of life,’ ‘women at the service of ecclesiastical offices’.

Already Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Köln has expressed concerns that the Synod would create tensions between the German church and the Church Universal. Pope Francis has issued similar warnings. Cardinal Reinhold Marx, naturally, dismisses such claims.

But he is being disingenuous. The fact is that liberal Catholics are becoming impatient at the progress being made by Bergoglio (their preferred candidate for the Papacy). Their policy now is to force his hand by addressing liberal concerns at the national level, and daring him to repudiate the results. If a new German Synod – involving lay participants – authorises women priest, adulterous communion, married clergy and doctrinal revisionism, will Francis denounce and outlaw the actions of the richest church in Europe? The gamble is that he will have neither the guts nor the inclination.

This bold attempt to Anglicanise the Roman Church, with the Germans in the role of the Episcopal Church USA, is bold and daring; but the stakes are equivalently high. You have only to open Pandora’s Box once.