Friday, September 17, 2010

Anti-Catholicism Alive in Britain

There has been a great deal of talk, for quite some time, about the current visit of HH Pope Benedict XVI to Great Britain. In Britain’s first televised prime ministerial debate the candidates were asked if they would even receive the Pope due to his “outrageous” position on moral issues like homosexuality and birth control. Then there were the insulting comments directed against the Pope from employees of the Foreign Office. Recently, a survey by the Theos think tank found that an overwhelming majority of Britons, some 77%, are against the British government paying for the state visit. I have often been told by friendly Britons, usually when defending some law or custom aimed against Catholics, that modern Great Britain is a very religiously tolerant country where anti-Catholicism is a thing of the past. Frankly, the facts are mounting and I am finding it more and more difficult to be reassured that anti-Catholic bigotry is confined to the history books.

I am sure it did not escape the notice of Catholics in the British Isles that earlier this year Ian Paisley, the man who publicly called Pope John Paul II the anti-Christ, was made a life peer, given the title of baron and a seat in the House of Lords (he also personally attacked his Queen but that seems no impediment to advancement these days either). There were also legal challenges made and threats that these groups would attempt to have the Pope arrested. Given all of that, were I in the Pope’s shoes I think I would have called off the state visit, thanked the Queen for her kind invitation and simply marveled at how much more gracious she is than the majority of her subjects. The Pope, of course, would never do that and even if he did it would surely be counted as a victory for the secularist forces in the U.K. because, no doubt about it, they are the ones behind this even if they stir up Protestant passions among an anti-Catholic but largely irreligious population.

Recent events have convinced me at least that the U.K. is still a largely anti-Catholic country and that I should not have been swayed by those who tried to convince me otherwise. Of course the Pope is being treated well and he was very kindly received by Her Majesty the Queen (this is a state visit of one monarch to another after all) who sometimes seems like the last person in her country to still regard England as the ‘land of good manners’. As many know, this is not a new phenomenon. Anti-Catholic hysteria goes back many centuries with lurid tales of priest-assassins, Catholic plots to “take over” the country, the “Gunpowder Plot”, Titus Oates and so on. Such paranoia helped bring about the English Civil War and later brought down the House of Stuart from their British thrones. Of course, in most of these cases, attacking or destroying Catholicism was not finally the point but was rather a useful tool to stir up popular support for the accomplishment of some ulterior motive such as wealth redistribution, promoting unwanted foreign wars, stripping power from the monarchy and finally changing the dynasty and bringing about an almost purely ceremonial monarchy.

To me it has never made much sense that so many ardent British patriots are so anti-Catholic. Yet, I have heard it time and time again; how in the past monarchs were slaves to their papal master, how cruel and viscous Catholic rulers were and then of course there was the Armada (which I swear is brought up more often than Guy Fawkes -one would think there would be less angst about a battle the Protestants won). I may be deranged but I cannot picture any sensible person looking at the likes of King Richard I, King Henry V or King Edward III and regarding them subservient tools of the Pope in Rome. The supposedly infamous Queen Mary I was often at odds with the Pope (her husband was even excommunicated), James II ignored the advice of the Pope and was even opposed by him in the political sphere. Likewise, there has never been any priestly assassins, the Titus Oates episode was proven a lie and even the suspect Gunpowder Plot” was foiled because of a Catholic tipping off the government.

Moreover in all the time since the “Glorious Revolution” and the Jacobite Uprisings the British Empire was allied with Catholic powers in opposition to the French Revolution and in that glorious period of reactionary resurgence the supporters of the British monarchy and the supporters of the Pope looked upon each other as Allies in the defense of the traditional Europe and in suppressing revolutionary forces. Why can we not have that attitude back again?
*Update - I just saw on the news that five men (Algerian nationals according to the BBC) were arrested for plotting to murder the Pope during his visit. Welcome to the U.K. Your Holiness...


  1. No its not anti-catholicism per say thats the problem, as a majority back home don't give a toss about Christianity much less the Catholic vs Protestant stuff. The sad fact is liberal secularism is the new religion in the UK, and the Pope is opposed simply because he's the most ardent public opponent of this; someone who dares to be act as a Christian conscience. The anti-catholic bigotry is but a very useful tool used by his securalist enemies to reinforce their attacks on him, and shouldn't be taken as the prime motive in my opinion.

  2. Just to toss this out there, the latest issue of "Majesty" magazine has a lovely article, mostly photos, of the Queen and other members of the British royal family visiting the Vatican from years past to present.

  3. I must say, as atrocious as I think the public and media has been on this issue the Queen and Royal Family themselves have been the picture of civility and kindness. On this papal visit, for example, I thought it was great how the Queen expressed her thanks to the Pope for the support the papacy has given to the peace process in Northern Ireland. The Royal Family themselves have been greatly hurt by that conflict but they never let the legitimate, righteous indignation they felt over that turn into bigotry which says alot about the character of the Queen and the other royals.

  4. In my opinion if the communist is the red horse and the stone worshipper is the white horse perhaps, this secular liberal republican is the black horse. All of them are nothing more than indicators of a dying civilization.

  5. A gracious host honours his guest, and a gracious guest honours his host. Her Majesty and His Holiness are certainly honouring each other.

    But I was quite truly astonished by the thought that the British government shouldn't pay for a state visit by a foreign monarch. The same sentiment exists among republicans here in Australia when our Queen or her family visits, and I'm sure that the Pope would also recieve some murmurs about "cost to the taxpayer". But to expect a foreign nation to pay for tours to which you are host is extremely ungracious and rude, and dishonours the guest and the host.

    And considering the generally anti-Christian views of much of the establishment in the UK, I'd have to agree with English Jacobite - it's a manifestation of that under a guise of anti-Catholic sectarianism.

    In a final note building on the above sentiment, the idea of tolerance of other peoples views is somewhat skewed. Christian teaching is hardly intolerant. In fact, it is extremely fair. If we were to apply the same standards to Islam, then it would be outlawed and advocation for Sharia would be viewed as sedition (as it should be).

    But because of a perception of Christian intolerance, intolerance of actually Christian attitudes has become the favoured modus operandi of any who seek to curry favour with the establishment. Views on it as simple and backwards do not help either, and I'm astonished at just how much I didn't learn about my own religion either (I'm on an Alpha course, which is presented by the Anglican vicar Nicky Gumbel. And I'm Catholic. Which is great!).

    Well then may we say God save the Queen, because nothing will save these money-pinching scrooges. One man is lavish yet grows still richer; another is too sparing, yet is all the poorer (Prov. 11:24).

  6. Communism is secular, liberal republicanism. This is something I tell the American Neocons all the time.

    My own thoughts are these, that others here including Mad Monarchist are right. The real reason the Pope is attacked is because he represents Religion, specifically Christianity, in the age in which we are told we are too enlightened for Religion, and that Religion holds us back. The Lie of course is obvious, as they really didn’t trade Religion for Reason, they have exchange done Religion for another. Secular Humanism is no less a Religion than is Christianity, and being an Atheist doesn’t make you nonreligious. But the British Isles except Ulster are anti-Christian because the Christian Faith has been depicted as evil for the last 30 or 40 years, and before then the idea of it as evil or sinister has existed since the enlightenment and has filtered in. It is a tragedy, and one we need to work against. The whole of it rests on a Spirit of Rebellion, not of the Freedom they think they get. Their Hatred leads to bondage and they are tricked into it by thinking it being freed. Freed form what? The bondage of Tradition, Salvation, and unconditional Love? And free to do what? Subject yourself to the ever expanding godless, and faceless state?

    We should pray and work had to reverse this in Britain. If the Secularists can turn a devoutly Christian nation like the UK into an Atheistic one, we can turn it back into a Christian one, and trends do not need to remain permanent. Revivals have happened before, and can be dramatic.

    On an aside: The Algerians were likely Muslims, and I don’t think that reflects badly for the UK.

    Also, I dislike correcting a Blog owners grammar but its one of my foibles. The Phrase “Cme alive” is popular but its bad Grammar. You cannot come condition. Think about it, do you ever come Hungry or come awake or come tired? You become Hungry or come to Hunger, but you never come hungry. (Well, unless you arrive somewhere and are hungry, but that’s not quiet the same.)

    It should be “becomes alive“, or “comes to live“.

  7. That's one thing I did notice, I don't recall there ever being such ugliness when the Pope would visit one of the dominions like Canada or Australia. It strikes me as very telling that there would be this much ill-will over a visit by the Pope but not over some of the truly horrible world dictators and the like who have had state visits to Britain.

  8. communism is secular and republican, but hardly liberal.

    Liberals support gay rights, and free sexual rights, communism opposes them.

    in eastern european countries and in china during the cold war, you could get booted out if you had extramarital sex or even mentioned sexual topics in public, people were taught in school in communist countries that sex was only for procreation

  9. Communism is as liberal as it gets -there is more to liberalism than "sexual liberation". It is only that it is harder to change social norms than to change government. Many communist leaders were excessively promiscuous. In Cambodia marriage was abolished under the communists so any sex would have been extramarital. Look up virtually any modern communist party in the west and they support every form of perversion imaginable.

  10. It should also be noted that Liberals in the West didn’t always approve of Sex before Marriage and you would be hard pressed to find support for Homosexuality in earlier Liberal writers. 19th Century Liberals still understood Homosexuality as intrinsically wrong, and as a Mental illness. Just look at Freud and his explanation of it. Many 19th Century Liberals said you can have proper sexual morality, meaning abstaining till marriage, even without God and Christianity involved. Logical, practical reasons could exist for it. While it is true that many other Liberals, like H.G. Wells or Bertrand Russell, pushed for a more Libertine Sexuality, not all did. Liberals in the 1950’s didn’t push for Same-Sex marriage and gay rights either.

    A lot of it comes form Culture, because you don’t change everything about a people overnight and how they approached Communism will still be rooted in who they were and their own Cultural background. China to this day still has a Society based around communal Respect for persons, and cooperation that comes right out of its Imperial Days. So in that way, one needs to be careful. What we think of as Conservatives would have been seen as Left of Centre 50 years ago.


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