Gordon Brown: Roman Catholics are the 'conscience of the nation'
It is quoted verbatim, and merits a damned good fisking. But it is rather late, and His Grace's ashes are in need of repose.
Enjoy (or not):
Gordon Brown has praised Catholicism for often being the "conscience of the nation" as the three party leaders addressed faith in the runup to the general election.
In interviews for a new magazine, Faith Today, Brown uses the religious language of his upbringing to describe his government as the "good Samaritan" who will not "pass by on the other side".
The magazine asked the party leaders how their policies would benefit the common good as the Catholic church issued a guide to principles that should inform its 5 million followers in Britain when voting.
The Catholic bishops' conference of England and Wales this week published a list of questions for the UK's Catholics to put to candidates, including advice that Catholics should vote for a party that will serve more than just them individually.
The conference also said voters should ask candidates how their policies would benefit marriage, a recommendation that could end up helping the Tories.
In Faith Today's questionnaire, David Cameron repeats his commitment to marriage but stops short of mentioning recognising it in the tax system. He says: "I back marriage and I believe that rewarding and encouraging commitment has such a key part to play in mending our broken society."
Brown says: "Getting married has certainly made a massive difference to my own life. So I am committed to giving support for family finances and having the right policies for work-life balance that make it easier for couples to have a rich family life."
Asked if religious faith is essentially "a private, personal pursuit" or has a role in the wider community, he says: "Our common realm is not and cannot be stripped of values – I absolutely reject the idea that religion should somehow be tolerated but not encouraged in public life. Our equality bill is specifically designed to protect religion and belief on exactly the same terms as race or gender or sexuality.
"I welcome the role that people of faith play in building Britain's future – and the Catholic communion in particular is to be congratulated for so often being the conscience of our country, for helping 'the least of these' even when bearing witness to the truth is hard or unpopular."
The Liberal Democrats' Nick Clegg, who has said he does not believe in God, says: "I do believe in the separation of church and state – but that doesn't mean keeping faith out of public life. People of faith have an extremely valuable contribution to make to public debate and often challenge our consciences on a whole host of issues."
The three party leaders also state their priorities should they win power. Cameron says his first priority is a "new strategy" for Afghanistan alongside "cutting public spending in a fair and reasonable way"; Brown says the economy; and Clegg says a fairer tax system.
After all that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have done for Christian liberties and the historic foundation of the nation, if Roman Catholics fall for this, we risk another five years of purgatory. There will be no redemption. The 'conscience of the nation' indeed. It makes His Grace want to vomit.