The Vatican Strikes Back
It is unsurprising that the priests, bishops, archbishops and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church are vigorously defending the Pope against the global deluge of allegations of child-rape and torture. They are, after all, simply sanctified MPs, private secretaries, junior ministers and cabinet ministers whose pledge of loyalty to their prime minister is absolute. The Pope is a head of state, an absolute monarch, unaccountable and unanswerable to any civil authority. It is no surprise, at a time of grave political crisis, when the polls are grim, approval ratings plummeting and the relio-political strategy in tatters, that the Vatican should wheel out its Peter Mandelson, its Ed Balls and its Alastair Campbell to spin and rebut in order that nothing might touch the Lord's anointed.
And Roman Catholic journalists are spouting predictable verbiage, insisting that they know what the Pope critics do not not know, and reassuring us that their supportive knowledge is true while those who profess critical knowledge are false.
Yet they cannot know what they do not know: they can only choose to believe.
And we are supposed to be persuaded by the sincerity of their faith.
So the Archbishop of Westminster assures us that his church is not trying to cover anything up: Pope Benedict XVI is beyond reproach.
But he cannot know this: it is his belief.
And Cristina Odone assures us that Pope Benedict is not the problem, and that these sporadic reports of child molestation are 'sensationalist' (an absolutely appalling word to use in these circumstances).
But she cannot know this: it is her belief.
The political strategy is now to make us know what they think they know and to forget the things we do not know because we cannot know.
While the mob is baying for blood, there must be a sacrificial lamb; a political scapegoat. And Cardinal Brady is it: his days are clearly numbered.
Just as successive home and foreign secretaries have fallen loyally on their swords in order that their prime ministers might live; in exactly the same way as the puss-filled boil of parliamentary expenses had to be lanced with a deep cleansing of the temple, so it is hoped that the imminent execution of Cardinal Brady will be sufficient to assuage the wrath of the laity gods.
But it will not be.
While Roman Catholic journalists dismiss reports of child rape as 'sensationalist', and while the bishops and archbishops protest too much the innocence of their king, suspicions will only be aroused, and the quest for more lurid and salacious stories will continue. There may not be a paedophile road that leads to Rome, but that will not stop a yellow-brick one being created.
In a political crisis such as this, the dismissal of one junior cabinet minister is woefully inadequate. If Pope Benedict XVI is to avoid his papacy being forever corrupted with the stench of pederast priests, he must have the boldness to carry out a series of religio-political purgations (dare one call for 'reformation'?): he needs a Vatican Night of Long Knives.
And Cardinal Law must be the first to go.
The wonder is that he has not already seen fit to sacrifice himself for his king.