If Supranational Government Is Necessary For Peace And Cooperation, When Will The Vatican State Join The EU?

Vatican Flag - EU European Parliament - Strasbourg - Pope Francis

If you love the EU so much…

Yesterday, this blog took to task the motley crew of Christian bishops and other assorted British faith leaders who signed their names to an insufferably glib and ignorant letter imploring the British people to vote to remain in the European Union in the 23 June referendum.

But the Archbishop Cranmer blog has now gone one better, and published a satirical spoof article reporting that the bishops had actually called for Pope Francis to commit the Vatican State to joining the EU – the joke being that the bishops would never dream of insisting that the Vatican surrender sovereignty to Brussels but are perfectly happy to demand that Britain does the same.

From Archbishop Cranmer:

Religious leaders from the UK’s main faith communities – including former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams – have joined forces to urge Pope Francis to commit the Vatican State to joining the EU, saying membership is vital to preserving peace, fighting poverty and tackling the migration crisis.

In a letter in the Observer, 37 leading figures from across the faiths say that they hope the Pope will reflect on whether joining the international institutions charged with delivering these goals might contribute to a fairer, cleaner and safer world.

[..]

The letter is obviously not endorsed by any Roman Catholic leaders, but is signed by Anglican archbishops and bishops, Church of Scotland academics, reverend professors, deans, distinguished rabbis and imams, ecumenical coordinators, baronesses and peers, leaders of Sikh and Hindu faith communities, and Global Leader Steve Chalke MBE.

The ‘Stronger In’ campaign have today dispatched comedian Eddie Izzard to tour the Vatican State in an attempt to get the Curia to pray for Pope Francis, that he might incline his ear toward justice, peace and righteousness, and commit the Vatican to immediate EU accession negotiations. “It makes sense,” said Mr Izzard, “to have the Pope of Rome subscribe to the Treaty of Rome.” He added: “We know the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic leaders and laity support membership of the EU because of the opportunities it presents to work, to study and to travel to Lourdes. I share their positive view of Europe, and I think Pope Francis ought to, too.”

And who can argue with this faultless logic? If we accept the Remainers’ fatuous assertion that Britain must remain in the European Union because only by being subordinate to a supranational government based in Brussels can we work pragmatically with out neighbours to solve problems which transcend national borders, then why should this not apply equally to the Vatican?

In fact, why should it not apply especially to the Vatican, being both an extraordinarily rich state and a hugely influential one, often bypassing other national governments to lay a claim on the hearts, minds and souls of people in countries all over the world? Given the Vatican State’s unique advantages in this regard, surely (according to Remainer logic) it is practically criminal for the Pope to stubbornly hold out, clinging to anachronistic national pride and refusing to be subsumed into the greater European whole.

And yet nobody makes this argument. The Vatican is left to go about its business as a sovereign state unmolested – quite rightly. But the fact that the European Union’s Christian cheerleaders would rather not afford Britain similar freedom is yet more proof of the inconsistency and subjective nature of their case.

As this blog recently remarked:

Britain is and will always remain part of a “bigger whole” whether we remain in the European Union or not. The European Union is a political construct, and a very recent and unproven one at that. It is not interchangeable with the continent of Europe, and it has no democratic legitimacy when it arrogantly claims to speak and act on behalf of the many diverse European peoples. There is a positive case for Brexit based on leaving euro-parochialism behind and engaging more fully in the world, and pro-EU Christians participating in the debate should at least acknowledge this fact rather than arguing against the two-dimensional cartoon Ukipper they hold in their minds.

But this is the very low standard of debate we have sadly come to see from those who claim to represent the Christian perspective. At its core, their argument amounts to little more than “the EU is about friendship and peace and cooperation, and Jesus was in favour of all those things, so what’s not to like?”

[..] Seriously – boil down most of the [Christian pro-EU arguments] and they amount to little more than that. You’ll hear endless variations on the theme that because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, somehow it naturally follows that we should be united under the same supranational political umbrella – though curiously the Church of England never wastes its time clamouring for Asian countries to merge together, or for Canada, Mexico and the United States to institute a shared parliament.

So, about that rigorous, intellectual, Christian case for the European Union – where is it?

We are still waiting.

 

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More Praise For The Vatican

Well, for its current occupant, to be more precise. MSNBC host Chris Hayes (who mirrors his mentor Rachel Maddow in speech and writing to a remarkable degree), is the latest to fall under the spell of Pope Francis I, for many of the same reasons that this blog has praised the new pontiff.

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Hayes gushes:

You know who I freakin’ love? This new pope. Pope Francis. You know who I’m talking about, right? The pope. Are you watching this guy? Because you should be. It’s early, but I’m thinking… best pope ever.

That’s original emphasis, by the way. Aside from the redundancy of explaining to his viewers and readers that Pope Francis is indeed the pope, the style is just like Rachel Maddow Mark 2, right? The stylistic similarities between Maddow and her protege are quite astounding. But I digress. Hayes also picks up on the new pope’s penchant for making cold-calls to the faithful who write to him of their problems:

Perhaps most amazing of all: the pope is now picking up the phone and calling people who write to him for advice and prayers—earning him the nickname “Cold Call Pope.” He phoned a woman who had been raped by a police officer in Argentina, telling her she was not alone, and to have faith in the justice system.

He’s comforted a pregnant woman whose married boyfriend tried to pressure her into an abortion, Francis offering to personally baptize her baby.

He also rightly picks up on Francis’ more humble demeanor:

He showed up to World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, not in the imposing Popemobile, but in the back of a rental car. He’s not above taking a selfie with the kids. He plans on driving a used car around town. And he’s urged others to do the same: ”It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car. A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”

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The one area where Hayes and I differ is the degree to which this wonderful, welcome rhetorical shift will actually lead to any significant step change in Church doctrine or Vatican policy. Hayes says this in his article:

But Francis has also shown he’s pretty good substantively, as well. On the once taboo subject of homosexuality, Francis told reporters: ”If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Clearly, he sees this as something substantive, but I find it hard to apply that term unless there are meaningful changes afoot to reform Church teachings on gay marriage, the ordination of women priests and other such issues – something that is clearly not on the horizon.

Nevertheless, I join Chris Hayes in celebrating the warmer, more inclusive tone now emanating from the Vatican. May it spread down from Pope Francis to his brother cardinals, the archbishops, bishops, priests and of course the laity, where it might really start to do some good.

Some interesting and fun Pope Francis memes can be found here.

Best Thing Of The Day

Apparently, continuing his penchant for calling regular people out of the blue and surprising them, Pope Francis has made a telephone call to a young gay Catholic man in France, in response to a letter the man sent him expressing his emotional turmoil and stress at the thought that his nature was in some way against God or church teaching.

Pope Francis

The Huffington Post reports the account as follows:

“He said ‘Christopher? It’s Pope Francis’. I was unsettled, of course. I asked, ” Really? ” He replied : “Yes.”

“I received the letter that you sent me. You need to remain courageous and continue to believe and pray and stay good,” the Pope told him during the nine-minute conversation in Spanish.

“Your homosexuality. It doesn’t matter. One way or another , we are all children of God. This is why we must continue to be good,” the Pope told him.

Though many writers have argued that Francis’ more inclusive and friendly tone does not necessarily mark any great upcoming shift in church teachings on homosexuality, it is certainly a good beginning, and a vast improvement from the cold, clinical indifference that was the hallmark of the Benedict XVI papacy:

While Francis’ predecessor Benedict XVI was an extreme opponent of gay rights – once describing homosexuality as a “defection of human nature” – the most recent Pope has expressed his tolerance towards homosexuality.

During his recent visit to Brazil he said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Once this spirit of friendship and true empathy is established, as Pope Francis is working so hard to achieve now – not just in terms of Church attitudes toward gay people, but also the poor, underprivileged and dispossessed – the opportunity may eventually present itself for a revision of Church teaching in this regard.

More Encouragement From The Vatican

Another story from the Vatican, reported by The Telegraph, which is certainly very welcome in the wake of the recent back-slapping self congratulation fests that we have had to endure lately, including the Bilderberg 2013 Meeting and the G8 summit in Loch Earne.

Pope Francis has apparently summoned and met with the Vatican’s ambassadors around the world en masse, and warned them to live humbly and unostentatiously when going about their ambassadorial duties.

He also urges them, when making recommendations to the Vatican for future potential promotees to Bishop, to consider the pastoral abilities of the candidates above all.

The Telegraph reports some details of the Pope’s address:

“There is always a risk … of giving in to that sort of ‘bourgeoisie of the spirit and life’ which drives one to recline, to seek out a comfortable and tranquil life,” he told ambassadors gathered at the Vatican from all over the world.

“Giving in to such a worldly spirit exposes us pastors in particular to ridicule. We would perhaps be applauded by some, but those who seem to approve of us would criticise us behind our backs,” he added.

The Pope said he was keen to meet the ambassadors as a group so he could speak to them about the key role they play in advising the Vatican on local candidates they believe would make good bishops.

“Be careful that the candidates are pastors who are close to the people … are mild-mannered, patient and merciful; that they love poverty … (and lead) simple and austere lives,” he said.

Beware of those who have a “princely psychology” and above all “be careful that they are not ambitious, that they do not seek the episcopate,” he added.

The new Pope is certainly leading from the front on this particular issue. Another day, another sign from Pope Francis that real, lasting, positive change is on the way.