Vatican urges Ireland to vote NO in Lisbon referendum
At last, the blind now see.
At last, there is hope.
Today the people of the Republic of Ireland vote in their second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. They gave the wrong answer last year, despite a 'slick' marketing campaign to lure them into the Lisbon web. So their government has generously granted them the opportunity to repent, though not quite at leisure. Brian Cowen, the Irish Prime Minister, has promised voters that he has secured ‘legal guarantees’ from the EU that Ireland's neutrality and tax policy will remain unaffected, and its traditional Roman Catholic stance on issues such as the family and abortion will remain untouched.
It is not true, of course. It is still the same treaty, nothing has changed. The Irish people are being asked to affirm precisely the same dense and complicated document that they rejected last year. It still legislates for an EU ‘foreign secretary’, a permanent president (Blair - 'within weeks'?), and it removes member states’ vetoes in several areas, in particular to questions related to justice and home affairs. And it still includes the ‘passerelle’ clause, which permits the EU to extend its jurisdiction over precisely those areas Brian Cowen asserts are inviolable – without the inconvenience of having to refer back to national parliaments or endure the indignity of further referenda. It remains a self-amending treaty. It is an instrument of oppression.
Nothing has changed except the economic context. The financial crisis has rocked the country, turning it from having a much-admired and booming economy into the economic sick man of Europe, where the bottom has fallen out of the housing market, the banks are broke, unemployment is in double figures and GDP has dropped sharply.
A vote for Lisbon is being portrayed as a vote for jobs and economic recovery. Rejection means Ireland will 'sink without a trace'.
But in an astonishing intervention, quite out of character with previous Vatican pronouncements on matters relating to the EU, Bruno Waterfield reports that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, has warned the people of Ireland that the European Union threatens their country's ‘identity, traditions and history’.
The Republic is estimated to be about 90 per cent Roman Catholic. Of course, in recent decades there has been a massive decline in adherence to the faith with regard to regular Mass attendance, but affiliation remains a strong cultural expression. While this intervention is a veritable Gloria in Excelsis to His Grace, it will be a Missa Solemnis to the Irish government and the European Commission, who have poured millions of euros into the ‘Yes’ campaign, despite their own rules forbidding such intervention.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s comments echo those made by Pope John Paul II as the ‘European Constitution’ was being drawn up in at the turn of the millennium. When the draft first appeared, there were objections that the document moved directly from acknowledgement of the influence of Greek and Roman cultural influence on European identity and culture, to that of the Enlightenment. The fact that there had been a few millennia of Christian influence in the interim was completely omitted.
The Cardinal said:
“Individual European countries have their own identity. The EU prescribes its laws or views to them and they do not have to fit with their traditions and history. Some countries are logically resisting this – for example, Ireland. If Europe recognised homosexual couples as equal to marriage, for example, it would go against its own history. And it would be right to stand against it. The Church wants to encourage states in this."
The Church wants to encourage EU states to assert their individual identities?
This is the first time there has been Vatican affirmation of the historic Protestant Christian identity and tradition of the United Kingdom.
This intervention is an immense blow to the obsessively-secular EU, which seeks to ‘prescribe laws and customs’ which are antithetical to Christian history and tradition. The disgraceful treatment meted out to Italy’s prospective commissioner Rocco Buttiglione revealed what had hitherto been covert. The imposition of secularism as an assertion of ‘neutrality’ on the part of the state (for the EU is a de facto state, if not increasingly de jure) challenges the distinctive Christian moral vision of the common good.
In the politically liberal EU, there can be no coercive or even cohesive state theology and no insistence that such a theology should even be necessary. The state is primarily if not exclusively the mechanism by which the happiness of the individual is promoted and individual fulfilment is realised. Thus King George VII, by the grace of God the next British Monarch, will not only be head of state but ‘Defender of Faith’ rather than ‘Defender of the Faith’. There is no dissuasion from holding on to spiritual or moral principles, but neither is there encouragement or insistence that one must do so. It is not a crude sacred/secular, church/state or private/public divide, but the perpetual assertion of a via media of ‘neutrality’.
This is the EU’s political paradigm. In a sense , it is a logical consequence of Protestant thought which has influenced the political and social order: Locke was only one who asserted that toleration and the rights of private conscience are themselves hallmarks of Christianity. Neutrality is one of the principal goals of the liberal state because society, being composed of a plurality of persons, each with his own aims, interests, and conceptions of the good, is best arranged when it is governed by principles that do not themselves presuppose any particular conception of the good.
There is an evident dilemma in seeking neutrality of political effect because intrinsic to the pursuit of any policy is the likelihood that it will have a detrimental effect on at least one conception of the good to the manifest benefit of another. But there are manifestly circumstances in which it is unfair to act neutrally – where there are not even prima facie reasons to be neutral.
Neutrality appeals to the EU’s egalitarian instinct that one group should not be more advantaged or enjoy greater privileges than another, but it leaves unresolved the need to adjudicate between competing conceptions of the good. It is manifestly necessary to deem some conceptions as being legitimate or beneficial and others as not. In doing so, there is a need to refer to some ‘higher code’ which, in liberal Western democracies, has traditionally been identified with Christianity and the principles of the Enlightenment. These, in England, have historically been embodied and articulated by the Church of England (or worldwide through the Anglican Communion).
In the EU, the ‘higher code’ is an aggressive assertion of Enlightenment secularism. Its creed is godlessness, and the only acceptable expression of spirituality is that of Gaia – earth worship. And so ‘global warming’ and the environment are deemed sufficient to unite mankind.
Declan Ganley, the leader of Libertas, which is campaigning for a No vote, is of the opinion that Cardinal Bertone represents the Roman Catholic Church's true position. He said: “I welcome these comments and encourage all practicing Catholics to take them on board before they cast their ballots.”
Cranmer exhorts them to do the same, to heed warning of the Cardinal.
The result is due tomorrow afternoon.
If Ireland votes No, the Lisbon Treaty should be dead.
If Ireland votes Yes, David Cameron has a slight problem.