Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Miliband: ‘Bishops support the Treaty of Lisbon’


To Cranmer’s total incredulity (and, judging by the howls of laughter, to that of the entire House of Commons), this was a line which the Foreign Secretary gave to the House of Commons as evidence for the innate goodness of the Treaty of Lisbon, and as a substantive reason for the House to support it.

His Grace is dumbfounded:

Firstly, that the Foreign Secretary should bestow upon the Commission of Bishops such religio-political clout as to be able to sway the elected representatives of the Commons; and secondly, the delusion that this group is held in such high spiritual regard that their patronage might constitute some moral argument for selling the United Kingdom down the river.

Bishops have been little more than a prop of government for quite some time. They are now routinely wheeled out to sit on committees or to ‘impartially’ investigate whatever the Prime Minister wishes to be investigated from the moral high ground, or it is they to whom politicians allude when the debased is in need of sanctification and the sepulchres need a little whitening.

But this ‘Commission of Bishops’ is not constituted of the leaders of the Church of England: it is a Roman Catholic-led ecumenical body which is financed by the European Union to produce reports singing the praises of said union with all glory, laud and honour.

Its stated objectives are:

- To monitor and analyse the political process of the European Union
- To inform and raise awareness within the Church of the development of EU policy and legislation
- To promote reflection, based on the Church's social teaching, on the challenges facing a united Europe

It is led by Bishop van Luyn of Rotterdam, a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and adviser to the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church. Its present occupation is to consider such issues as the ‘Christian reflection on climate change in the EU’, but, as the Foreign Secretary observes, it has recently been concerned with fervently supporting the EU Constitution:

Adoption of the Reform Treaty:

Hope for the continuation of European construction

COMECE’s Secretary General Mgr Treanor greets the announcement of an agreement on the new treaty for the European Union. The agreement, reached by the 27 Heads of States and Governments at the European Council of Lisbon last night, brings an end to four years of difficult endeavours and to the institutional crisis following the rejection of the EU constitutional Treaty in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

COMECE welcomes the fact that concern for the European common good and the interest of 500 million citizens finally prevailed over threats linked to issues of national interest.

COMECE particularly welcomes the introduction of article 15b in the Treaty establishing the European Community, which stipulates that ‘The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States.’ And especially alinea 3: ‘Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations.’ On the basis of this article, which introduces a new provision into the Treaties, the EU institutions will engage in a deeper dialogue with the Churches, thus allowing Christians to accompany more effectively the process of European construction. This should lead to a Union characterized by more Justice and Solidarity and an enhanced Responsibility for major global challenges.

COMECE notes with interest that the Reform Treaty introduces a preamble to the Treaty on European Union that recognises the cultural, religious and humanistic inheritance of Europe ("DRAWING INSPIRATION from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe, from which have developed the universal values of the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law").

Nevertheless, Mgr Treanor considers that ‘The debate about the Christian roots of Europe is inseparable from the reflexion on the European identity; thus, it needs to be continued’.

The Reform Treaty will be officially signed by the 27 Heads of States and Governments on December 13th in Lisbon. The ratification process will then start: through referendum in Ireland and presumably by parliamentary decision in all the other Member States.

The COMECE Secretariat encourages Christians to follow closely the issues and challenges of the European debate during the following months. The Reform Treaty, despite its shortcomings and complexity, represents a satisfying institutional solution for the enlarged EU; it introduces necessary reforms into the decision-making process that should allow European construction to continue in an efficient and just way.

In the light of the outcome of the Lisbon Summit, it is worth recalling Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remark: ‘If (…) on some points justified criticisms can be raised about certain European institutions, the process of unification remains a most significant achievement which has brought a period of peace, heretofore unknown, to this continent, formerly consumed by constant conflicts and fatal fratricidal wars..’ (Address of HH Benedict XVI - Meeting with the Authorities and the diplomatic corps. Hofburg, Vienna Friday, 7 September 2007)


The ‘Commission of Bishops’ to which the Foreign Secretary refers does not produce papers or makes declarations as a body of cooperating churches and equals; it is a political, top-down, Rome-led organisation in which all the other churches are ‘ecumenical partners’, but manifestly inferior in status and prestige. Indeed, there is a certain order of ranking, with the Orthodox sitting at the right hand, and the others in the far lower echelons. The Church of England is not mentioned anywhere.

And Cranmer finds it most amusing that they list very much in their ‘Who we are’ section, and even more in their ‘What we do’ section, but their ‘agenda’ section is absolutely blank.

One wonders why.

And one further wonders what Mr Miliband would expect a group of bishops which is financed by the EU to say about the EU. Bishops these days are rarely inclined to bite the hands that feed them.

UPDATE
Mr Daniel Hannan MEP linked to His Grace's post, with a predictable sequence of ad hominem and straw man responses.

His Grace's loyal communicant Mr Bob uncovered evidence that the Commission of Bishops is indeed in receipt of EU grants.

27 Comments:

Anonymous bob said...

I think you may be mistaken about the ecumenical nature of COMECE. I clicked on the who we are section and it seems quite clear that COMECE is solely a Catholic organisation.

22 January 2008 at 08:08  
Blogger Jomo said...

Almost every institution in Europe is in favour of the EU. There is only one choice for England.. "in or out."

The British political elite enjoy the attention and the travel. They will never stand in the way of "ever closer union." The argument in Europe is now about who wields power. Political union is a given. Its take it or leave it time!

22 January 2008 at 09:00  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace

As always, follow the money.

22 January 2008 at 10:03  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

i am quite sure you are right mr unsworth , i do hope that mr millibands references nspcc included .
i do hope these things make interesting reading .

as for mr clegg who was noticeably absent during most of the early debate , mr haigs words seems to prohesi "i see a lib dem flag ship has put to sea"
i beg to differ he could be all at sea before very long and may even lose his own seat!!

i know of quite few lib dems who have told there faithful they would give a referendum !!

even mr austin mitchell (who gave an excellent speech) doubted that what was being offered, is anything other than giving away rights , that are not his to give away .

my blessings for what else lies ahead and for whatever liars ,lie ahead

22 January 2008 at 12:52  
Anonymous the recusant said...

Irrespective of your opinion on the EU (and indeed the RCC) What I find interesting is that the RCC recognised at an early stage the need to established official relations with the EU and that this process was recognised as early as 1980. The question in my mind is what was Lambeth doing at the time that prevented it from making similar moves, indeed in the subsequent 28 years have the AC established any official links with the EU?

In looking at COMECE 3 stated objectives as highlighted on the post, could these not equally be applied to Your Graces first-rate contribution to the European debate, what is contentious or objectionable in any of these objectives?

On closer examination of exactly what COMECE says on the Lisbon treaty

COMECE particularly welcomes the introduction of article 15b in the Treaty establishing the European Community, which stipulates that ‘The Union respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations or communities in the Member States.’ And especially alinea 3: ‘Recognising their identity and their specific contribution, the Union shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with these churches and organisations.’

On the face of it I would have thought this was particularly welcome in light of some of the recent moves by both local, national and EU sponsored technocrats. Still it's one thing to say and another to act on it, at least we will be able to bash them over the head with it when they forget it.

And finally once again COMECE reports

The COMECE Secretariat encourages Christians to follow closely the issues and challenges of the European debate during the following months. The Reform Treaty, despite its shortcomings and complexity, represents a satisfying institutional solution for the enlarged EU; it introduces necessary reforms into the decision-making process that should allow European construction to continue in an efficient and just way.
In the light of the outcome of the lisbon Summit, it is worth recalling Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remark: ‘If (…) on some points justified criticisms can be raised about certain European institutions, the process of unification remains a most significant achievement which has brought a period of peace, heretofore unknown, to this continent, formerly consumed by constant conflicts and fatal fratricidal wars..’

This by any reading is a measured response to the treaty, nether openly condemnatory or gratuitously complementary (although I would consider NATO had more to do with peace over the past 60+ years that the EU).

Like yourself I would rather retain our national sovereignty, free trade and a free market but real politick dictates we have to deal with what is, not what we would like. Not that this should stop us agitating for the ideal.

22 January 2008 at 13:21  
Anonymous mickey said...

With greater prescience than even he would have thought possible, Kipling wrote these words in 1920 ('England and the English'):

"... For five hundred years his [the Englishman's] affairs, domestic and foreign, were controlled by French, Italian, Spanish, with occasional Austrian, politico-ecclesiastical authorities, who tried to teach him that “this realm of England” was but part of a vast international organisation destined to embrace, protect, and instruct all mankind. He escaped from those embraces only to find himself subjected to the full rigours of the Puritan Conscience, which at that time was largely directed by gentle men from Geneva, Leyden, Amsterdam, and the Low Countries. While thus engaged he was, under pretext of union, finally and fatally subjugated by the Scot. A few years later he embarked on the swelling tide of party politics in all their attendant purity; since which he has seldom been allowed to look back, and never forward."

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

22 January 2008 at 15:01  
Anonymous mickey said...

With greater prescience than even he would have thought possible, Kipling wrote these words in 1920 ('England and the English'):

"... For five hundred years his [the Englishman's] affairs, domestic and foreign, were controlled by French, Italian, Spanish, with occasional Austrian, politico-ecclesiastical authorities, who tried to teach him that “this realm of England” was but part of a vast international organisation destined to embrace, protect, and instruct all mankind. He escaped from those embraces only to find himself subjected to the full rigours of the Puritan Conscience, which at that time was largely directed by gentle men from Geneva, Leyden, Amsterdam, and the Low Countries. While thus engaged he was, under pretext of union, finally and fatally subjugated by the Scot. A few years later he embarked on the swelling tide of party politics in all their attendant purity; since which he has seldom been allowed to look back, and never forward."

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

22 January 2008 at 15:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it's backed by the Bishops - after all they're all part of "Mystery Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations" united church,united Europe, whose goal is the undermine Protestantism at all costs.

22 January 2008 at 16:32  
Blogger Bob said...

Is there any source for the assertion that COMECE is financed by the EU? I think it is more likely the case that COMECE is funded by the Bishops' Conferences of all the member countries listed on it's website.

22 January 2008 at 18:18  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Recusant,

His Grace finds himself in accord with much of what he has quoted: the stated aims and intentions are profoundly Christian. His contention is with the suggestion that Christians ought therefore to support the EU Constitution as the mechanism by which the Kingdom shall be established on earth. This he finds unacceptable, not least because empires and supranationalism have never in the history of the mankind yielded peace on earth or alleviated poverty.

Mr Bob,

In His Grace's experience, funding for these organisations is rarely overt. He thinks you will find that COMECE is fraternal with the 'Soul for Europe' which dispenses grants to ecumenical, pro-EU organisations.

22 January 2008 at 18:33  
Blogger Bob said...

+Cranmer - I am familiar with the workings of Bishops' Conferences and so can therefore say with certainty that the funding comes from the Bishops' Conferences and not from the EU. I would suggest that in this particular matter and on this occasion you are mistaken in you assertion with regard to the funding; and, as I had previously stated, COMECE is not an ecumenical body, but solely a Catholic one.

22 January 2008 at 18:47  
Anonymous mary tudor said...

Anonymous said...
Of course it's backed by the Bishops - after all they're all part of "Mystery Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations" united church,united Europe, whose goal is the undermine Protestantism at all costs.


*evil cackle*

22 January 2008 at 19:47  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Bob,

If that is your assertion, His Grace is prepared to concede error. Unlike some of your co-religionists over the past 138 years, he lays no claim to infallibility or to any other attribute of divinity.

But he still wouldn't mind betting (if he were the gambling sort) that this outfit, Roman Catholic or ecumenical, receives generous funding from the 'Soul for Europe' project.

22 January 2008 at 22:25  
Blogger Bob said...

+Cranmer - I'm unsure whether or not you would win your bet, although I imagine (if I were the gambling sort) that my money not be on you theory. A closer inspection of the COMECE website gives the answer I expected:

Structure

The Bishops meet twice a year in plenary session. The Apostolic Nuncio to the European Communities also participates in the plenary meetings.

The plenary meeting sets out the main lines of work for the COMECE Secretariat. An Executive Committee, consisting of the President, two Vice-Presidents and the Secretary General, ensures continuity between plenary meetings.

COMECE is funded by the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union.


I was simply surprised that you included two assertions in this post - regarding funding and seating arrangements - which seem to have no basis in fact. I ascribe no malice in this, merely a mistake, which we all make. I was concerned that your stated objective of having a forum dedicated to erudition and intelligence would suffer if such mistakes were allowed to go uncorrected.

However, as a previous post of mine on another issue provoked ire and offence, I wish to reiterate that I do not believe that you sought to be mendacious, merely mistaken.

22 January 2008 at 22:56  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Bob,

You are most gracious.

His Grace intends to investigate grants made to the 'Bishops' Conferences of the European Union'.

He more than half suspects that 'Soul for Europe' is pouring euros into the COMECE 'agenda' (which still remains blank), and that all roads lead to Rome...

23 January 2008 at 07:14  
Blogger Bob said...

Good luck with your investigation.

23 January 2008 at 08:08  
Blogger Bob said...

+Cranmer - you'll be happy to know that you were right that COMECE appears to have received some grants from the EU, along with a group called CEC-KEK (the body representing Protestants and Orthodox). From my reading of the material though it appears the total funding on offer amounted to €40,000 (circa. £30,000).

Apologies for my error.

23 January 2008 at 10:40  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Bob,

You are gracious, and His Grace accepts your apology.

It would not be unreasonable to deduce, however, that an organisation that is in receipt of EU funds may well be more inclined to advocate on its behalf, and to do so quite fervently.

That was His Grace's simple point, and he is pleased that his sensory antennae have proved accurate.

23 January 2008 at 17:04  
Blogger Bob said...

+Cranmer, it is a happy moment when we can both claim to be right - you for you contention that COMECE was in receipt of grants for various projects, me for my contention that COMECE was funded by the Bishops' Conferences of Europe. If only everything in life were so felicitous.


I can see where you're reasoning lies and the logic is undeniable. However, I do believe that COMECE actually predates 'Soul For Europe,' and, from what I can gather, COMECE has been quite pro-EU from it's inception, and I would wager that it would be pro-EU regardless of whether or not it was in receipt of grants from an EU sponsored body.

23 January 2008 at 17:57  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Bob,

Indeed, quite so, quite so.

And Bernie Ecclestone may have supported the Labour Party to the tune of £1m even without the exemption on tobacco advertising granted to Formula 1 racing. And Lord knows how many cash-donating peers may be sitting in the House of Lords purely on merit if they had not been so generous.

It is the mere appearance of a 'connection which may undermine whatever integrity and probity there may be.

23 January 2008 at 18:26  
Blogger Bob said...

+Cranmer - I take it then that we must similarly conclude then that the Anglican Churches (including the Church of England), together with quite a few other Protestant Churches, and not forgetting Orthodox Churches within the EU are equally tarnished given that CEC-KEK also receives grants from 'A Soul for Europe.'

23 January 2008 at 18:52  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Bob,

Absolutely. This is beyond question. And His Grace is bemused that the churches are fervently supporting such a godless and secular entity which is manifesting an increasingly anti-Christian ethos. The experience of Sgnr Buttiglione says it all. Why these churches are complicit is bemusing.

23 January 2008 at 19:31  
Blogger Bob said...

+Cranmer - it would certainly seem that the various Churches are exhibiting the triumph of hope over experience.

The Buttiglione affair was sufficient in itself to convince me to vote against the Lisbon Treaty when the opportunity arises here over the summer. The only drawback is that this places me on the same side as Sinn Féin which is most unpleasant and almost in itself enough to make me abstain.

23 January 2008 at 20:07  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Bob,

While His Grace empathises with your dilemma, this is a case of focusing on the super-objective. Your enemy's enemy is not, in this case, your friend. And if the antithetical and antipathetic Dr Paisley is now prepared to work with Sinn Féin, virtually anyone else ought to be able to hold their nose.

24 January 2008 at 07:26  
Blogger Bob said...

+Cranmer - nolite timere! I only said it was almost enough. My no vote is assured.

24 January 2008 at 09:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paisley antithetical?????His Grace doth surely err!! Opportunistic - yes,Untrustworthy - yes, Powerhungry and Unprincipled - yes. And loves to supp with the devil!! But definately swimming with the tide very much, these days.

24 January 2008 at 09:48  
Anonymous WannabeAnglican said...

Your Grace, my prayers ascend that your nation be delivered from the predations of Labour and Brussels.

24 January 2008 at 12:39  

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