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.
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.