Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A response to Daniel Hannan MEP

It is curious that a man of such towering intellect, oratorical eloquence, political insight and manifest common sense should trivialise and dismiss one of the most obvious and enduring themes in the whole European Union song and dance. It is even more disappointing that he should purposely misrepresent Cranmer, who not only happens to agree with him on just about everything, but who has readily leapt to Mr Hannan’s defence on more than one occasion when he has been unjustly treated by man or vilified by the media.

In his article for The Catholic Herald, Daniel Hannan MEP states that ‘Catholics in the pews have clipped the EU’s wings’, with a strap line which reads: ‘Ireland's “No” to Lisbon has revealed a gulf between bishops and lay people’.

All of which is undoubtedly and undeniably true.

But Mr Hannan then proceeds to accuse His Grace of ‘anti-Catholic prejudice’ for daring to point out that Roman Catholic bishops stopped just short of issuing guidelines on how the faithful should vote on the matter, and also that the Pope himself had entered the fray on the eve of the referendum. Merely to state this, apparently, revives ‘the oldest of anti-Catholic prejudices: the notion that priests were leading their flocks to the polls’.

But first, let us deal with the accusation that His Grace is ‘acerbically Protestant’.

It is curious that ‘acerbic’ should prefix ‘Protestant’, for Mr Hannan would never talk of ‘acerbically Muslim’ (If he wished to keep his job under Mr Cameron’s increasingly over-sensitive regime) or even ‘acerbically Catholic’ (if he wished to go on writing for the Catholic press). Like the BBC’s ‘Protestant terrorists’ (never ‘Catholic terrorists), or Tony Blair’s ‘Protestant bigots’ (never ‘Catholic bigots’), there is something convenient and easy about sullying Protestants and the Protestant faith with negative prefixes and detracting suffixes. Of course, the comment is ad hominem, but Cranmer is hard-pressed to find bitterness in his spirit or sourness in his soul. He much prefers to deal with irony and bring a wry smile to the faces of his readers and communicants.

That aside, how can it be ‘anti-Catholic’ to state a fact? How can it be ‘prejudice’ when one adduces evidence and reasons systematically?

In their pastoral letter Fostering a Community of Values, the Roman Catholic bishops praise the European project as one which has brought peace and stability to Europe since the Second World War, and which is founded on the actions of three devout Catholic leaders: Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi and Robert Schuman. They emphasise that it is the duty of every citizen to study the contents of the Lisbon Treaty and to vote: ‘It is not a referendum to assess our views on membership of the European Union or to register a protest vote’, they say, but is prompted by the need for institutional reform to equip the union to continue to play ‘a positive role in a rapidly changing world’.

They continue: ‘There is a need for institutional reform that both promotes democracy and contributes to greater transparency and accountability on the part of the EU institutions’. The Lisbon Treaty attempts to address the democratic deficit by strengthening subsidiarity and promoting active citizenship, but the extent to which it manages to address these challenges ‘is open to question’. They conclude that Europe is ‘a civilisation of values’, and that those values are inherently Catholic.

All of that, to His Grace, sounds like an attempt to sway a vote.

Mr Hannan conveniently omits to mention that Cranmer’s sources, all hyperlinked, were The Daily Telegraph, the BBC, and Dr Richard North, all of whom are, of course, well noted for their ‘ant-Catholic prejudice’. The Director General of the BBC is Catholic Mark Thompson; The Daily Telegraph is owned by the Catholic Barclay brothers; and Dr North was Jesuit-educated. And it was he who observed that ‘the Vatican and the EU have a lot in common’ under the provocative headline, speaking of the Pope: ‘Ex Nazi supports Irish “yes”’ (to which His Grace demurred).

Why is it that when a member of the Church of England draws attention to the intervention of the Roman Catholic Church, he is ‘prejudiced’, but when the BBC/Telegraph/Dr North do so, there is no such accusation? Why, when Lord Shore asserts that the manipulating Brussels Commission behaves ‘like a priestly caste’, this is reasoned discourse, but when His Grace quotes this, he is reviving a prejudice?

The reality is that nowhere in the article to which Daniel Hannan refers does Cranmer state ‘priests were leading their flocks to the polls’. This is a convenient caricature, which doubtless brings much pleasure to his commissioning editor, but it is not what His Grace said. The expressions of Treaty support issued by the bishops and the timely sermon by His Holiness on the eve of the referendum were clearly designed to sway the faithful. That is what His Grace said, and that is what the BBC implied when they said the intervention of His Holiness ‘was not accidental’.

Thankfully, many Irish had the good sense to ignore the meddlesome priests, but that does not negate the attempt to religiously influence a political outcome.

It is axiomatic that all quotations are taken out of context, but Mr Hannan chooses to ignore Cranmer’s conclusion which encapsulates the very gulf between the magisterium and the laity to which Mr Hannan refers. Cranmer’s final statement is clear in this discrepancy:

And so His Holiness affirms the anathema and perpetuates the dogma that on the seventh day God created the EU. This is curious, given that it is a distinctly secular, utterly Godless and increasingly anti-Christian construct which is antithetical to all that St Columbanus might have held dear.

Was this point too subtle? The bishops may splutter that Europe is ‘a civilisation of values’, but those values are manifestly not the Catholic ones envisaged by the Founding Fathers. That millions of ordinary Roman Catholics recognise that the EU is antithetical to all that they value and revere is self-evident. Does Mr Hannan think that His Grace does not know of Bill Cash, Edward Leigh, Iain Duncan Smith or Ann Widdecombe? Fine upstanding Catholic Eurosceptics all, actively resisting the authority of their magisterium. And then there are Catholic journalists like Charles Moore who are also nobly opposed to the emerging European Empire. Does Mr Hannan really believe that Cranmer believes they are being led by priests?

It is evident that the Catholic hierarchy perpetuates an inexplicable and wilfully blind adherence to the EU project. His Grace’s article was manifestly about the division between the bishops and the pews, yet Mr Hannan quotes a small section of text and cries ‘prejudice’.

Of course, he has probably collected his 30 pieces of silver £500 for telling The Catholic Herald what it wished to hear about His Grace, which is very nice for an MEP on an already overly-generous salary. But it is a slur against a fellow Eurosceptic, the consequence of which is that rational argument is diminished in the public sphere, and ‘religion’ is added to ‘race’ as a no-go area of legitimate enquiry.


Anonymous martin sewell said...

I think Your Grace can put the filleting knife away now.. and Dan, it's time to kiss and make up!

25 June 2008 at 08:26  
Blogger Sammy said...

First class reply Your Grace.

25 June 2008 at 09:18  
Blogger Rockfall said...

There is only one thing better than being right: being right and being able to express it elegantly. Bravo.

25 June 2008 at 10:02  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace,

As one who has suffered the full rigours of a 'Jesuit Education' let me say that such education certainly does not equate to subsequent opinion or amount to inculcation.

In my case, quite the reverse.

25 June 2008 at 10:29  
Blogger Mission Impossible said...

I too have been a long-time admirer of Daniel Hannan, and have, in the past, supported him via comments left at his Blog.

With that said, I have noticed his tendency not to follow through with some of his well-founded arguments; so far but no further seems to be his motto.

Perhaps Daniel's character would benefit from taking up Martial Arts training? I am serious. Why? Well, I recall seeing him in a televised debate several months back (I forget exactly when) and I watched as he allowed his superior argument to be browbeaten by two "heavier weights" who became "rhetorically threatening." Daniel lacks toughness and presence because he is decidedly under-weight. Had he felt tougher, within himself, it is likely he would not have engaged in petty-minded attacks on Cranmer.

Our cause requires leaders and spokesmen who look as though they have the power to swing a metaphorical Battle-Axe against our enemies, instead of being content to flash the sharp edge of its blade at friends.

Daniel has lost his focus. No one can reach a goal without focus. Our goal is far more important than any individual personality or ego contributing to its arrival. He needs to start delivering the goods soon, else his political posturing will begin to look like a hollow shell.

Oh, and Daniel, I understand you quite like the "charming" Margot Wallstrom ... Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy (as recently admitted in your Blog). Falling for that Swedish Blonde fantasy again are we?

His only books were women's looks and folly is all they taught him.

I don't like Wallstrom one little bit. It is likely she (Ref: her EU Communication Strategy role) has been the Commissioner ultimately responsible for the repeated use of explicitly sexual posters to further the EU cause. The tactic used in Eire recently (sexual innuendo) had already been deployed in Poland and possibly Austria + the Baltic States too, as reported in the 'Brussels Journal.' I know (as many others know) that she is trash, and little more than the temporary "fair face" of an utterly corrupt, totalitarian hegemon that has been predicated upon the most obscene theories of Rousseau and Robespierre.

25 June 2008 at 10:51  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
anti catholic!! , this is a little up setting. surely this debate is for the church , not an MEP. being as his calls for freedom have been brushed aside in brussels and the EEP group left to wither is hardly the fault of good protestants.

i am sure the pope has a blessing and meaningfull embrace , for all those who believe in the risen christ , doesnt dan realise how many friends he really has ???

if we are to battle evil it seems a shame that we should fall out in a beauty contest , and let the totalitarian forces of the corrupt EU celebrate all hallowes eve.

i suppose i have to be less catholic sceptic , but it has to be reciprocated or else the one eyed man will be king of the blind !!

should william hague be reading i came across Sir John st Aubins speech for repealing of the septennial act . says a great deal , i wish stuart wheeler had used in court ???

25 June 2008 at 10:58  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

EU Keeps the peace? A big lie (from EURef)

25 June 2008 at 11:38  
Anonymous oiznop said...

I've read the Hannan article, and I've read Your Grace's article, and I don't understand why he'd use that opportunity to take a gratuitous side-swipe at Your Grace. Unless, as you state, it was playing to his audience. I doubt he was paid £500 for it, because paying that sort of dosh to guest writers would bankrupt the Catholic Herald.

It's not cricket, and I though Dan Hannan was one of the political world's gentlemen. He should apologise.

25 June 2008 at 11:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But he did say your blog was 'eminently readable', which is more than most of the Telegraph blogs!

25 June 2008 at 12:33  
Blogger Jomo said...

Doesn't Mr Hannan know that many of the English Catholic hierarchy are more Protestant that you are.

Those that are not are either political innocents or leftist stooges.

They fell for Blair and Nulab and they think the EU is some proto Catholic state dedicated to apple pie, motherhood and social justice.

As you point out sensible Catholics ignore their political views.

It's sad that Mr Hannan is trying to put Romeophobia on the agenda. He may come to regret joining the other grievance mongers and diversity hustlers trying to destroy the country.

25 June 2008 at 18:47  
Anonymous mckenzie said...

Gossip can be defined as idle talk or writing about another person or situation, regardless of fact. It can also be defined as, malicious or slanderous talk or writing about another person or situation with desire or intention to hurt them. It can also be defined as talk or writing about another person or situation in order to turn another’s opinion against that person or situation. Gossip can be truth or falsehood, but it is still gossip.

IF ANY MAN AMONG YOU SEEM TO BE RELIGIOUS, AND BRIDLETH NOT (does not keep a tight rein on) HIS TONGUE, BUT DECEIVETH HIS OWN HEART, THIS MAN'S RELIGION IS VAIN (he deceives himself and his religion is worthless-NIV)-Ja 1:26.


25 June 2008 at 18:52  
Anonymous edward tattysyrup said...

Temper! Temper!

Make Protestantism history :D

25 June 2008 at 19:26  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace - acerbic? Surely not!

More an articulate, humorous and critical Anglican - dare I say Anglo-Catholic?

But I notice that you are not too miffed as you now have posted the jibe in your citations.

As your communicant Martin Sewell says, time to kiss and make up.

25 June 2008 at 22:26  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Ultramontane Grumpy OLd Catholic,

His Grace likes to be balanced, and therefore posts both praise and jibes in his citations. Mr Fawkes was the first to jibe, but that was no surprise coming from the first religiously-motivated suicide bomber.

25 June 2008 at 23:04  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Guy Fawkes a suicide bomber? I don't think he wanted to go up with the explosion.

Though I read that at his execution he threw himself off the gallows and so broke his own neck, thus depriving the crowds and the authorities of their ghoulish pleasure.

25 June 2008 at 23:26  
Anonymous Stonemason said...

Ultramontane Grumpy old Catholic,

I read your the first line of your last comment and thought .....

........ "someone needs a nap" ........

And then I read the remainder, I think Guy Fawkes "was" an unsuccessful suicide bomber who only managed the suicide.

26 June 2008 at 18:32  
Blogger shergar said...

Thomas...when oh when will you simply drop to your knees and press Holy Mother Church's proffered ring to your lips. It can only be extended in friendship for so long. Come out from the cold, Thomas!

26 June 2008 at 19:48  
Anonymous Dan Hannan said...

'Cranmer', you are an ossified bigot. I write for many newspapers - both secular and religious - and The Catholic Herald is one of the finest. It is sound on Christian orthodoxy and sound on the EU. You, on the other hand, are indeed acerbically Protestant and a poor example of Christian witness. You belong in the Iain Paisely school of politics, and your sectarianism has no place in the 21st century or in the Conservative Party.

26 June 2008 at 22:18  
Blogger F.E. Smith said...

You're not Dan Hannan. You are completely out of character.

26 June 2008 at 22:56  
Blogger Cranmer said...


His Grace also rather suspects that the above is not Mr Hannan, but an apologist for The Catholic Herald, a paper which His Grace enjoys every week.

Yet 'out of character' has been levelled at Mr Hannan over his original comments by one of his own communicants, so there is no way of knowing. The ISP for the comment is inconclusive.

27 June 2008 at 10:57  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Perhaps the article in the CH was really by "Dan Hannan"?

1 July 2008 at 15:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Your Grace, if only the people were lead by the Priests to the polls. Perhaps then Europe would not be in the moral straights it currently find itself in. Perhaps if the Priests and Bishops would actually preach Catholicism, we would not need to fret about where the UK and Europe will lead the rest of the world in ethical terrorism. I should think you should worry more about what your flock believes than what a politician perceives. After the flock knows right, the politician will be forced to follow, since they are hollow shells which are filled with votes.

26 March 2009 at 19:59  

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