Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Van Rompuy wants clearer 'hierarchy' to deal with future crises

According to EU Observer, President Van Rompuy has said he is ‘looking to establish a clearer "hierarchy" among the EU institutions and member states to make it easier to deal with any future crises in the eurozone’.

The President is ‘in charge of a task-force looking into the future of economic governance (as opposed to government) in the EU’. He want ‘informal procedures and informal co-ordination mechanisms’ be set up to help ‘give some coherence within the EU structure’.

The problem:

‘…certainly when you are in crisis - and there is not much hierarchy or organic links between the main players and the main institutions’

The solution:

‘We are working in order to have some crisis cabinet because we are a lot of players in the field…’

And the ‘informal structure’ is likely to include:

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barros
Head of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet

And, of course, President Van Rompuy himself.

Not since the days of Octavian, Lepidus and Mark Antony has Europe been ruled by a triumvirate. This was formed on 26 November 43BC with the enactment of the Lex Titia, and it existed for two fixed five-year terms. The three-man directorate possessed supreme political authority.

And we all know how it ended.

Or perhaps, with the inexorable demise of the classics, we don’t.

As Burke observed: ‘Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it.’

When will the Conservative Party take heed of the Father of Conservatism?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Rowan Williams: The State will not get far in its government of Britain without the Church

The full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon to the new Parliament in St Margaret’s, Westminster, is reproduced below.

“‘Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar’: this alone is not a recipe for a sustainable society or a trustful one,” he said. “At best it will create a controlled or managed social order. For a social model more clearly focused on the flourishing of committed and creative citizens, we need a strong ground for the affirmation of fixed and non-negotiable dignity in all human beings.”

There are some theological gems: “Good government from a Christian point of view is about the acknowledgement and reinforcement of human dignity…”.

The vision of shared dignity was one that would “never allow the weak, the supposedly ‘unproductive’, the very old or the very young, the mentally ill and physically challenged and terminally ill to disappear from the radar; on the contrary, it will always ask what are the strengths that they bring, the contribution without which society would be poorer”.

The Archbishop was gentle with them: he knows they’re despised and rejected, and he knows how that feels. People had felt, he said, “that those who hold both financial and political power have exercised it for self-interest, not for the common interest. Some of that perception has been unfair. Most of those in the worlds of finance and politics have been individually honourable and generous. But the ineradicable impression has been of systems that have rewarded or connived at casual greed and routine sharp practice.”

But, unlike most of their critics, he offered them a solution: “If government is visibly working for dignity in citizenship, trust will follow.”

Dr Williams urged Parliament not to ignore the Church when attempting political renewal: “Political renewal is not religious renewal. But a political renewal that looks for a vital, decisive commitment to human dignity and social trust will not get far without a capacity to tune in to the themes of religious practice, the narratives and rhythms of embodied faith, not least, though not exclusively, in the life of the Established Church… No one looks for a revival of discriminatory privilege for any faith, still less for some kind of religious censorship in public life. Yet our society is not so rich in resources for the celebration of a dignity which can exist in straitened circumstances just as much as in abundance that it can afford to go on regarding religious communities with the mixture of patronage and nervousness that has become uncomfortably common of late.”

Also on Tuesday, Dr Williams appeared in the House of Lords to ask about the proposed reform of the Second Chamber. He asked Lord McNally: “Given the historic role of this chamber as representing the interests of non-partisan civil society, will the minister give us some assurance that the proposals before us do not represent an increase in underlining the partisan character of this House?”

In reply, the minister said that the committee looking at the matter would address such concerns in its deliberations.

The full text of the St Margaret’s address:

Give Caesar what belongs to him, says Jesus. And how do we know what belongs to him? It has his image on it. Then: give God what belongs to God. The implication isn't spelled out, but it's clear enough. What belongs to God can be identified in the same way; it has his image on it.

Human beings, who are made in God's image, 'belong' to God – not in the sense that they are God's property but – like Caesar's coinage – they carry the stamp of his authority. A lot has been said and written in recent decades about the evil effects of the old doctrine that humanity reflects God's sovereignty within creation, encouraging people, so it is said, to see themselves as endowed with unrestricted powers over the rest of the world, with license to exploit and wreck it. But the picture of humanity as God's image in the world is originally about a particular kind of liberty and dignity, not the unlimited right of ownership but the creative responsibility to make something of the world for the glory of God; to make and to protect a whole environment that speaks of God.

So perhaps to give God what belongs to God is to set human beings free to relate to God and to fulfil their calling to be creative in the world. 'Giving' humanity to God is acting in such a way that the image is made more visible. It is bringing human dignity to light. So in the gospel story of the tribute money, Jesus refuses to make a neat opposition between Caesar and God, as his critics want him to. By all means, he says, pay your debts to the political order, give Caesar what belongs to him. If you are profiting from Caesar's government, don't grumble about paying Caesar's taxes. But never forget that the ultimate point of any human political order is giving God what belongs to God – setting human agents free, acknowledging and reinforcing the dignity in which God has clothed them.

There is the big picture for every politician who seeks to be more than a mere manager of the state's business, a part of the mechanism of collecting Caesar's taxes. Good government from a Christian point of view is about the acknowledgement and reinforcement of human dignity. And to see it in this way may help us out of the useless standoff that sometimes arises when we try and talk about what 'strong' government is and whether it is desirable.

We react against certain kinds of strong government or 'big' government on the grounds that we don't want to be patronised or bullied or stripped of the fruits of our own work. And the mistake is then to hand over all responsibility to non-state agents – which in practice often means non-accountable interests. Or, on the other hand, we try to make sure that government controls all outcomes and averts all risks by law and regulation. And this produces a culture of obsessional legislation, paralysis of initiative and pervasive anxiety.

Well, the last three decades have seen plenty of both these odd growths – the delinquent children of Milton Friedman and Sidney Webb. Is it a fantasy to think that we just might be on the verge of discovering another register for talking politics and doing politics? One thing that the remarkable recent election has surely told us is that some of the historic party identities of British politics are not making much sense to a lot of the electorate; party loyalties are not what they were, because people have been unclear about what the arguments really are (despite the high-profile debating). The leaders of a new government, a new leadership in opposition, have the chance to put the question of human dignity at the centre of public debate by affirming that strong government is government that makes strong citizens – not by resigning responsibility but by deliberately building capacity for co-operation, encouraging mutual dependence and skill-sharing, helping to create what some have called a 'social-quality market' in which people collaborate to define the goods they are seeking together instead of being reduced to the level of the simple relations between producer and consumer. The marketing – I use the term deliberately – of this latter model to every area of social interaction, including education and healthcare, has been one of the tragedies of the last thirty years and we need something better –something that assumes a shared dignity in citizens, shared across the differences of income and ability, race and class.

Shared dignity: it is this, rather than just a set of convictions and enactments around rights alone, that will provide the vision for a society in which the main concerns are to nourish the strength of citizens and enable them to use their strength for mutual care and service, and where the arguments are about how this is to be secured. It is a vision that will never allow the weak, the supposedly 'unproductive', the very old or the very young, the mentally ill and physically challenged and terminally ill, to disappear from the radar; on the contrary, it will always ask what are the strengths that they bring, the contribution without which society would be poorer. Shared dignity is the condition for what you could call 'civic warmth' – the sense of being able to trust not only immediate neighbours but the wider social fabric. If government is visibly working for dignity in citizenship, trust will follow.

And of course it is trust that has in the last couple of years been one of the most signal casualties of our national and international politics. It isn't only that people have felt they have not been told the whole truth about some matters; much more importantly, they have felt that those who hold both financial and political power have exercised it for self-interest not for the common interest. Some of that perception has been unfair. Most of those in the worlds of finance and politics have been individually honourable and generous. But the ineradicable impression has been of systems that have rewarded or connived at casual greed and routine sharp practice. Across the political parties, there is an urgency about recovering the trust that has been squandered.

And perhaps we could also say there is an urgency about restoring dignity to political life itself. The people of the United Kingdom do not want to see politics reduced to entertainment, slogans and personalities. There were telling points in the election campaign where it was clear that the relentless negativity of coverage and the relish with which individuals, including individuals of stature and integrity, were demonised or trivialised or both began to repel the public. No-one should look back on the campaign as a good moment for the dignity of our public life. But the harsh truth is that this kind of dignity has, more than ever, to be worked at. People want an alternative to cynicism – but it will require new levels of seriousness, patience and sheer reasonableness in political debate and relationships. And when one journalist, last weekend, wrote movingly of the dignity with which the grief-stricken people of Cumbria had responded to the horrors they had witnessed, we were reminded forcibly of the underlying seriousness and compassion that is still there in our national life at its best.

Our first lesson this morning was a rather scarifying summons to renewal. It shows a great political and religious reformer, a governor of Israel during the period of Persian imperial control, spelling out the consequences of fidelity to God and of infidelity. Faithfulness to the law of Moses means that people will be gathered – drawn together out of exile, out of isolation. Forgetfulness of the law means fragmentation, people losing touch with each other; it is its own punishment. And renewal does not come without acknowledgement of this fragmentation, something for which the entire community of God's people has to take responsibility, not one leader, not one party, but the people.

If we are serious in looking to a new politics of dignity and civic warmth, we must all recognise our responsibilities and the need to give creative, challenging and constructive support to those we have called to govern and to represent us. If we want dignity in our rulers, we must show that we all take responsibility for the dignity we accord to each other as citizens. The unfashionable idea of political virtue needs dusting off as something we can all acquire in our own spheres – a sense of the significance of our decisions, of patience with others and willingness to discover together what is good for a community, even an attitude of celebration of our common life as villages and cities and a variegated national community.

In a culture that is increasingly functionalist and unsure how to celebrate, it is a matter of some significance that there still exist as part of the social fabric groups whose strongest means of self-identification is through celebration. Religious believers are not – contrary to what seems often to be taken for granted – individuals who happen to come together occasionally to reaffirm the eccentric opinions they hold. They are people whose imagination is constantly renewed by a celebratory sharing in the great narratives that hold them together, the narratives of God's actions which have brought them close to each other and whose resonances they recognise in each other. They are a reminder that celebration is not the icing on the cake of a prosperity that looks more vulnerable than it once did, but a simple matter of gratitude for being who we are and receiving what we have received, from God, from history, from our environment.

In this country, the Christian Church has historically been the main carrier of this celebratory vision, and its rhythms are still embedded in our calendar just as its buildings and worshipping communities are embedded in every landscape, urban and rural, in Britain. Political renewal is not religious renewal. But a political renewal that looks for a vital, decisive commitment to human dignity and social trust will not get far without a capacity to tune in to the themes of religious practice, the narratives and rhythms of embodied faith, not least, though not exclusively, in the life of the established Church.

This is perhaps specially true at a time when we are obliged to confront the possibility of a less individually and corporately comfortable lifestyle. No-one looks for a revival of discriminatory privilege for any faith, still less for some kind of religious censorship in public life. Yet our society is not so rich in resources for the celebration of a dignity which can exist in straitened circumstances just as much as in abundance that it can afford to go on regarding religious communities with the mixture of patronage and nervousness that has become uncomfortably common of late.

Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar: this alone is not a recipe for a sustainable society or a trustful one. At best it will create a controlled or managed social order. For a social model more clearly focused on the flourishing of committed and creative citizens, we need a strong ground for the affirmation of fixed and non-negotiable dignity in all human beings. You may or may not as an individual share the perspective of faith; but in the difficult years ahead it will be worth remembering that giving God what belongs to God is something that is not a matter of dry and unwelcome duty but a release of human possibilities that we all need to witness and in some degree share. May this Parliament mark a new level of enthusiasm and imagination around the call to honour God-given dignities by creating strong citizens of our nation and of the world; may the work of our elected leaders be for the sake of gathering and not scattering; and may the divine image in men and women, recognised or unrecognised, be the vision that directs us towards a fresh political energy and moral vision.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury criticises 'delinquent' politicians


Cranmer is a little distracted and pressed for time. This from Martin Beckford in The Daily Telegraph:

Dr Rowan Williams said that the “remarkable” general election shows the historic identities of the country’s political groups “are not making much sense to a lot of the electorate”.

He claimed that in the past 30 years both left- and right-wing administrations have created “odd growths” that either took too much power for the state or gave too much away to unaccountable private interests.

The Archbishop, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, also said that one of the “tragedies” of the past 30 years has been the reduction of every interaction to one of producer and consumer.

He hopes that the Coalition might lead to the development of “strong citizens” and “shared dignity” in society, and the restoration of trust in politics following the MPs’ expenses scandal.

His comments in a sermon to the new Parliament at St Margaret's, Westminster, on Tuesday mark the first time Dr Williams – a self-styled “hairy lefty” who nevertheless was critical of Gordon Brown’s attempts to tackle the recession through higher state spending – has discussed politics publicly since the election was called.

He said: “We react against certain kinds of strong government or ‘big’ government on the grounds that we don’t want to be patronised or bullied or stripped of the fruits of our own work. And the mistake is then to hand over all responsibility to non-state agents – which in practice often means non-accountable interests. Or, on the other hand, we try to make sure that government controls all outcomes and averts all risks by law and regulation. And this produces a culture of obsessional legislation, paralysis of initiative and pervasive anxiety.”

Referring to Margaret Thatcher’s economic guru and one of the founding fathers of the Labour Party, the Archbishop said: “The last three decades have seen plenty of both these odd growths – the delinquent children of Milton Friedman and Sidney Webb.”

“Is it a fantasy to think that we just might be on the verge of discovering another register for talking politics and doing politics? One thing that the remarkable recent election has surely told us is that some of the historic party identities of British politics are not making much sense to a lot of the electorate; party loyalties are not what they were, because people have been unclear about what the arguments really are (despite the high-profile debating).”

Dr Williams said the new Government has the chance to create strong citizens by encouraging them to co-operate rather than just consume goods from the state or private enterprise.

In an apparent reference to the much-debated moment during the election campaign when Gordon Brown described a widow who complained about immigration as “bigoted”, the Archbishop said: “here were telling points in the election campaign where it was clear that the relentless negativity of coverage and the relish with which individuals, including individuals of stature and integrity, were demonised or trivialised or both began to repel the public. No one should look back on the campaign as a good moment for the dignity of our public life.”

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Greatness returns to Number 10


It is more than 30 years since Margaret Thatcher entered Number 10 as Prime Minister. As she walked through the door, the new Premier adapted the prayer of St Francis of Assisi:

Where there is discord, may we bring harmony.
Where there is error, may we bring truth.
Where there is doubt, may we bring faith.
And where there is despair, may we bring hope.

Few could have envisaged then that she would not only dominate her party for a generation, but that she would transform the nation and, through a unique alliance and personal friendship with Ronald Reagan, alter the course of the world.

The Thatcher revolution was as much about personality as it was about policy. She administered the right medicine to cure the ‘sick man of Europe’, and refused to preside passively over a nation in terminal decline. For her, Britain was inseparable from its historic greatness, and so she sought to inculcate a notion of ‘Great Britain’ where it had ceased to exist – in people’s hearts and minds, but also throughout the continent of Europe and around the world. She was of the mould of Boudicca, Elizabeth I, Victoria – a woman who eclipsed ten thousand men in her grasp of statecraft and the administration of power.

She endured internal carping from the ‘wets’; constant attrition from those who sought a United States of Europe; trauma from months and years of strike action; demoralisation from economic downturn, inflation and recession; the unbearable yoke of war; she even survived an assassination attempt. But she persevered as her conviction obliged her to; she endured as her vocation demanded.

Margaret Thatcher began a revolution – not one of those bloody continental affairs of the eighteenth century, but a typically British and pragmatic one on a par with that of the nineteenth. Her transformation of British industry and her preparedness for the technological revolution was eventually to place the United Kingdom ahead of the rest of Europe. And so Thatcherism was born: a creed of economic and personal liberty which is her legacy. It was an expression of Conservatism every bit as defining as that of Peel, Disraeli and Churchill.

But Margaret Thatcher did not only leave her stamp on her own party: she also transformed the Opposition, for many of her reforms were retained by Tony Blair’s New Labour with his ‘Third Way’ fusion of mutual exclusives. The tragedy is that Labour reverted to type under Gordon Brown: with their instinct for centralisation and bureaucratic control; their financial incontinence; their loathing of liberty and personal responsibility; their envy of the rich and successful who once again faced punitive levels of taxation. And, true to type, Labour brought the nation to the edge of bankruptcy. The life blood of British identity has again been poured out as a sacrifice to a utopian Socialism which stifles, strangles, oppresses and deceives.


As a Conservative Prime Minister once again occupies Downing Street, it is wholly appropriate that the Great Lady should grace him with her presence. In a speech just before the General Election, David Cameron invoked her spirit when he reminded us that it has been an historic Conservative quest to take on vested interests:

That idea lies behind the progress of our country.

It was only when people stood up to a despotic King that our rights first came enshrined in Magna Carta.

And it was only when Parliament stood up to planters, merchants and ship owners that the slave trade was abolished.

And it’s an idea that is written in the history of our party too.

Peel, took on landowners, repealed the corn laws and brought cheap food to everyone.

Disraeli, took on some of the richest in the land, introduced factory reforms and protected people from exploitation.

And Margaret Thatcher’s government was defined by taking the side of the people against the powerful, the vested interest...

...those whose survival depended on keeping things as they were.

Take her union reforms.

She recognised that as long there was a closed shop and no proper ballots, power would lie with the big union barons.

They would continue to hold governments to ransom, to drag this country down, and to bully their members.

So she took them on.

She broke the stranglehold of the union barons and gave every worker an equal right and equal say.

Vested interests broken - people empowered.

The same is true for council house sales.

Before her reforms, the system predominantly favoured one set of people...

...local authority bureaucrats who controlled huge budgets and wielded huge power because they decided who could live where.

So Margaret Thatcher took them on.

She gave people the right to buy their own homes, invest in their future and take control of their lives.

Vested interests broken - people empowered.

And then there's the denationalisation of industry.

We saw that the growth of state power and state patronage, of state employment and state subsidies, gave massive power to a few people at the centre.

The big bosses, the union leaders, the politicians and civil servants who were in control of multi-million pound industries.

So Margaret Thatcher took them on.

She stripped companies like British Telecom of their monopolies...

...broke up failing monoliths like British Leyland...

...gave people choice, the opportunity to buy shares and created a truly popular capitalism based on enterprise and aspiration.

Vested interests broken - people empowered.

One vested interest after another was taken on and defeated.

Unions were given back to their members.

People were given greater power and control over their lives.

Business was set free to grow and create wealth.

Real change happened.


Only time will tell if David Cameron manages to reach the political heights of a Disraeli or a Thatcher.

Or whether he will be another Heath.

But one thing is certain: the United Kingdom is once again in the grip of a crisis of economy and identity every bit as deep-seated and urgent as it was in 1979. Only fundamental reform will address the issues; the country, once again, awaits conviction and political greatness.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Inspired by Mohammad - women's rights?


There is a (not-so-)subtle plot afoot to inculcate us all with subliminal messages about the illiterate man to whom Allah chose to reveal the greatest book ever written. It is not so much what was Inspired by Muhammad which is in question; theological arguments can be made to support all manner of historical propositions, especially disjunctive anachronisms like 'women's rights' in 7th-century Arabia. No, what irritates Cranmer the most about this campaign is the sly, subtle, stealthy standardisation of the spelling of Mohammed.

Where did 'MU-hamm-AD' come from?

In England (which is, lest it be forgotten, where we live), by the English, the name is traditionally spelt 'Mohammed'. Yes, of course, there have been and are variations in the spelling - a fact which is responsible for the statistical confusion over the most popular name given to baby boys every year. But why adopt a distinctly foreign spelling of the name when the campaign is aimed at non-Muslims?

There are at least 14 different spellings of the name – all pronounced the same. The main two, Mohammed and Muhammad (a non-Arab Muslim would adopt the name ending in -ed while an Arab Muslim would adopt the -ad ending) are complemented by Mohammad, Muhammed, Mohamed, Mohamad, Mahammed, Mohammod, Mahamed, Muhammod, Muhamad, Mohmmed, Mohamud and Mohammud. And these are augmented still by the much less-common Mehmet or Mohemet.

The name ‘Muhammad’ (which, however it is spelt, means ‘one who is praiseworthy’), like all transliterations, comes from replacing the Arabic script with what is deemed its closest Latin equivalent. It is well known that Muslim parents like to have something that shows a link with their religion or with their Prophet. Parents who name their son Mohammed believe that the name has an effect on their personality and future characteristics. They are saying that this boy will be of good character.

The problem with this campaign, however, is that there is a certain amount of politically-correct and religiously-convenient redaction going on, so much so that it really ought to be a matter for Advertising Standards. For Mohammed was into women's rights just about as much as he was into gay rights (and where are the posters espousing that proposition? Or are homosexuals less entitled to rights than the women?). Of course people are free to believe whatever they wish, but when it comes to an aggressive advertising campaign to induct the whole nation into a particular set of beliefs, one ought to expect a degree of scrutiny, criticism and historical analysis.

For the sake of factual accuracy: Mohammed knew nothing of 'women's rights' or even of the principles of natural rights or the Rights of Man, which emanated on the continent of Western Europe a thousand years later. And even those did not address the status of women or issues of slavery.

Mohammed knew nothing of these because they are philosophical and political principles of the Enlightenment. Seventh-century Arabia knew nothing of individualism, equality or Locke-Rousseau notions of social contract. It knew nothing of the foundational tenets enshrined as 'natural law' in the US Declaration of Independence. There were no rights for women because there were no collective rights for any but the male Muslims. There were no women's rights because they had no rights to liberty, property or even life (there are many Hadith accounts of Mohammed riding roughshod over women, usually after slaughtering their husbands and sons; and Qur'anic accounts of the words of women being worth less than those of men).

And Mohammed never made it the business of his government to recognise and secure any such rights for women.

So, by all means believe that Mohammed was the coolest dude who ever walked the earth - a great husband, father, warrior and a better footballer than Beckham.

But please let no intelligent Muslim (or kaffir) be deluded into believing that he was remotely supportive of women's rights.

But doubtless a poster campaign stating this would be illegal on the grounds of 'incitement to religious hatred'.

As would one which said: 'I believe in gay rights - So did Mohammed'...

Monday, June 07, 2010

Aborting babies conceived through IVF

Some years back, His Grace accepted an invitation to speak to a group of the gathered faithful in Northern Ireland. As is his wont, he had carefully prepared his speech, crafted its content and honed its verbiage. He was quite satisfied with what he was going to say (though he cannot recall now precisely what that was). But on the aeroplane to Belfast, he was reading a newspaper which hijacked his entire mindset.

The article which so offended and infected his intended speech concerned a prisoner, incarcerated for some unmemorable misdemeanour, who had qualified for and undergone ‘gender realignment’ (male to female) surgery whilst a guest of Her Majesty.

On the NHS, of course.

As if this were not sufficiently irritating, the prisoner had subsequently changed his mind, and had the surgery reversed.

Again, on the NHS (ie the taxpayer).

To be honest, His Grace truly cannot recall the matter of his original speech, or even what the gathered faithful of North Down had asked him to speak about. But he does recall the impromptu extemporisation and fulsome condemnation of this sort of approach to taxpayer-funded ‘healthcare’.

He had a similar reaction when he read in The Times of the ‘dozens of young women’ who undergo months and sometimes years of very expensive IVF treatment (courtesy of the taxpayer), finally become pregnant, and then decide to abort their child ‘because they have changed their minds about becoming a mother’:

Data obtained from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority reveal that an average of 80 abortions are carried out in England Wales and Scotland each year following IVF treatment. Up to half of these involve prospective mothers aged 18-34. These women — usually the healthiest — are the least likely to conceive babies with abnormalities, suggesting a “social” reason may have led to the decision.
Setting aside for a moment why women as young as 18 might be undergoing IVF treatment, and further setting aside that these 80 abortions really are just drops of blood in the annual ocean of slaughter, the scandal is that the NHS now appears to be complicit in the murder of wanted babies.

Even the pro-abortionists amongst His Grace’s readers and communicants might find this rather sickening. From a purely utilitarian perspective, the Pro-Lifer’s have no problem grasping the concept of seeking to abort that which is not and never has been wanted: it is just a bunch of cells, parasitical upon the host woman who has the ‘right’ in law to do with her body as she wishes.

But abortion which terminates the life of a child which has not only been planned but invasively procured through intervention in nature’s barren course is not only unethical, it is barbaric.

If the NHS is to survive in the future (that is, be affordable), it is precisely this sort of grotesque practice which needs to be curtailed. There may be no appetite amongst our legislators to outlaw abortion altogether, but it is a certain fact that there now is a sizeable movement now in favour of reform.

Perhaps a woman who undergoes IVF ought to feel the material cost as well as the emotional one. Developing babies in the womb are not commodities to be bought one day and discarded the next like unfashionable bags and shoes: having children is not a human right.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

In Paradisum



His Grace is bereaved.

He may need a few days.

Are we witnessing the birth of the Euromark?


There is a very interesting article in today's Daily Telegraph by Robert Woolnough, in which he discusses the possibility, even the likelihood, of the birth of the 'new euro'.

In the throes of the present unbearable strains in the eurozone, the political will is unequivocal - the euro must survive. Never one to let a Euro-crisis go to waste, Germany's Chancellor Merkel has demanded some Teutonic fiscal discipline: the single currency is the very nexus of the European dream; it is the essence of sovereign unity - a United States of Europe. Former Belgian prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene once said: ‘Monetary union is the motor of European integration'.

But someone put water in the tank: Greece has been prodigal; Spain is in a 'perverse spiral'; and Portugal will doubtless follow. 'Europe', it seems, is heading for meltdown.

This is God's judgement on the Babel currency. Either that, or the financial markets have discovered that the House of Europe has been constructed on a lie.

Robert Woolnough sees two possibilities: 'either there will be stability led by vigorous state intervention, or there will be huge chaos and uncertainty'.

But he finds it 'inconceivable that the politicians and policy-makers have not given any thought to what might need to happen should it collapse'.

'So what secret thoughts might they be having?' he asks, 'How would they cope with the unthinkable?'

If the euro ceases to be the financial system would be faced with financial calamity. The means of exchange would be questionable and, in extremis, the euro would become a worthless piece of paper. In addition, all existing legal contracts in bonds and derivatives would be denominated in a dead currency. Left unchecked, this collapse would probably destroy European capital markets and severely damage economies, with global carnage close behind.

First, the authorities would have to create new national currencies as a means of exchange. To solve existing euro contracts issues, you would need a one-for-one successor to the euro, so let's call it the "neuro". We've been here before: the ECU was turned into the euro in the same way. This successor currency would then be legal tender in all European countries. But the big question is who would stand behind this supranational currency?
Did Helmut Kohl foresee this, or even plan for it?

On 15th December 1995, the EU’s leaders agreed that the single currency would be called the ‘euro’, and thus was conceived Europe’s first single currency since the fall of the Roman Empire. The Spanish finance minister of the day, Pedro Solbes, made a play on Jesus’ words to the Apostle Peter about building the Church by affirming that the euro would be the very foundation of a united Europe: ‘Thou art Euro, and on this Euro I will build Europe.’ This remark needs to be evaluated in the context of the EU’s past use of a poster of the Tower of Babel, over which the EU flag’s circle of stars were displayed in the inverted form of a pentagram. It was used by the Council of Europe to promote ‘European construction’. Such biblical images and allusions have become commonplace, though the symbolism and significance are often perverted.

The name of the currency was significant because there was a strong German insistence on a clean break with the past. Thus John Major's suggestions of ‘schilling’ or ‘crown’ were dismissed in favour of ‘euro’ - a suitably inept diminution of ‘Europa’. It was not without significance that the term could easily become a prefix, like ‘Reich’ or ‘Deutsch’, to the currency unit of the mark, and a number of German politicians have referred to the currency as the ‘euromark’.

So when Robert Woolnough talks about a 'new euro' to replace the besieged, imperiled euro, he raises the possibility of a basket-currency 'primarily based on a new Deutschemark', which would make it a hard currency. This, he avers, would reduce the risk of financial Armageddon:

At the moment, this may sound like anathema to believers in the euro dream, but it may well be the fact that Europe is not yet ready for a single currency. If so, the authorities should recognise the fact and halt – albeit temporarily – on their journey to achieving their ultimate goal. After all, the progress to monetary union has had setbacks in the past, and even ardent euro supporters should have a plan B if things go wrong. The neuro might be a significant part of the solution.
And one might prophesy that the euromark zone would not consist of the present 16 nations who constitute the eurozone: it would need to be pared down to cut out the dead wood.

Economists have identified the 'PIGS' - that is Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.

To these Cranmer would add Italy.

And so PIIGS.

And some economists think Belgium won't survive.

So that leaves a euromark zone of 10 nations.

How neat is that.

And one might also prophesy, as with a number of naturally evolving European terms, that the prefix ‘euro’ will ultimately if covertly be dropped from the 'euromark', and 'Europe' will wake up one morning to find its currency is called the ‘mark’.

And thus the plan will be complete: the 'Germanisation of Europe’ will be fulfilled.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Abuse groups query record of Roman Catholic clerics sent to Ireland


You might think - would you not - that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander would be the last member of the Cabinet the Prime Minister would appoint to carry out an investigation into the dubious but 'within-the-rules' practice of 'flipping' houses to avoid Capital Gains Tax.

Cranmer has purposely chosen Mr Alexander because he has neither been found guilty of any wrongdoing nor has felt a twinge of conscience, like so many others, to repay any amount to HMRC or even to donate it to charity.

So it comes as something of a shock to child abuse groups that some of the senior Roman Catholics who constitute the Apostolic Visitation to Ireland, charged with investigating the Church's chronic failure in child protection, are themselves not as squeaky clean and beyond reproach as an impartial investigator really ought to be.

It is rather like asking members of Haringey social services to investigate the failures which led to the death of Baby Peter Connelly, or the Israeli Government to investigate the events which led to the death of 9 'peace protestors' at sea.

The findings of such reports would be undermined from the outset and lack any credibility.

The Irish Times tells us that abuse groups have no confidence at all in two cardinals and one archbishop:

They believe the child protection records of the former primate of England and Wales and Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor; of the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Séan O’Malley; and of the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, disbar them.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor has been appointed apostolic visitor to the Armagh archdiocese, Cardinal O’Malley to the Dublin archdiocese and Archbishop Dolan to the seminaries at Maynooth and the Irish College in Rome. The MACSAS (Minister & Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors) group in the UK have said they were “deeply amazed and concerned” at Cardinal Murphy O’Connor’s appointment.

MACSAS founder Dr Margaret Kennedy referred to the cardinal’s decision in 1985, when he was bishop of Arundel and Brighton, to move the priest Fr Michael Hill to a chaplaincy at Gatwick airport. Eighteen months previously the cardinal had removed Hill from ministry because of child abuse allegations but then allowed him back to work at the airport where Hill abused a child. Hill was jailed in 2002.

Dr Kennedy said yesterday that the cardinal’s handling of the case “has never been examined by independent inquiry”. Hill had “abused a very vulnerable, lost, learning-disabled boy. Hill also abused other disabled children.”

Many in the UK survivor movement “would wonder why a bishop with a record of mishandling his own cases could independently look at another bishop’s handling of cases”, she said. It was a “truly farcical and deeply insulting situation” which showed that “the Vatican does not yet fully grasp the notions of ‘justice, truth or accountability’,” she said. “The Armagh people should not accept Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. However, I guess Cardinal Brady is rather happy about it.”

In a statement the US group bishopsaccountability.org has said it was “dismayed by the Vatican’s selection of Boston’s Cardinal Seán O’Malley to advise and monitor the Dublin archdiocese’s handling of child sexual abuse allegations against clergy.”

The cardinal’s “career ascent has been fuelled by his ability to walk into dioceses racked by horrible revelations of child molestation and enshroud them again in silence”, they said. Since 2003 “he has released almost no information about new allegations against Boston priests”, they said.

They also claimed he had reinstated “at least three accused priests [Rev Jerome Gillespie, Rev Eugene Sullivan and Rev Charles Murphy] about whom troubling questions persist” and that in his diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, the district attorney in 2002 was so disturbed at Cardinal O’Malley’s failure to inform the public of sexual offenders that he himself went public with a list of names of accused priests.

It concluded that “for an apostolic visitation to have any chance of success, the participating bishops cannot be guilty of the same offences they are investigating”.

Barbara Dorris, of the United States’ SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), said that both Cardinal O’Malley and Archbishop Dolan had “troubling track records on abuse”. She said “just a few years ago Boston’s [Cardinal] O’Malley was found in violation of the US bishops’ sex abuse policy for refusing to make sure that all parishes were offering abuse training. And [Archbishop] Dolan let a priest sue his accuser in St Louis and fought against reforming Wisconsin child sex abuse laws.”
Cranmer awaits for these child protection workers to be accused of being anti-Catholic extremist Protestants, out to denigrate and undermine the Roman Catholic Church at every turn.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

UN draft resolution condemning Israel

There has been an 'urgent debate' of the UN Human Rights Council. Arab & Islamic Blocs have prepared a Resolution condemning Israel's 'raid on the Flotilla'.

Below is the draft resolution submitted this morning by the Islamic and Arab blocs, co-sponsored with the Palestinian delegation. It calls for another 'Goldstone Report'-style inquiry, to perpetuate and increase global political pressure on Israel. Because they enjoy an automatic majority from the council's non-democracies like China, Cuba, and Russia, the resolution is certain to pass. Changes might come if the EU pushes for it.

To date, the 47-nation council - to which Colonel Qaddafi's Libyan dictatorship and slave-holding Mauritania were just elected - has devoted 33 out of its 40 censure resolutions to Israel, as well as six out of its nine special sessions dealing with countries. By contrast, well-publicised killings of innocent civilians this year in Iran, China, and Nigeria have been met with a yawn, indifference, and inaction.

Beneath the Human Rights Council's Resolution is the UN Security Council statement which was adopted early this morning in New York.


(NB Typos are from original text)

Draft Resolution L.1
Submitted on 1 June 2010 at 10.01 am
By Pakistan (Organization of the Islmaic Conference), Sudan (Arab Group), and Palestine

Agenda Item 1

The Grave Attacks by Israeli Forces Against the Humanitarian Boat Convoy

Guided by the purposes and the principles of the United Nations Charter, as well as by the provisions of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights,

Taking into consideration the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention for the protection of civilian persons in times of war of 12 August 1949,

Emphasizing the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians including humanitarian personnel,

Expressing grave concern also at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Occupied Gaza,

Emphasizing the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people into Occupied Gaza and welcoming the initiatives aimed at creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid;

1. Condemns in the strongest terms possible the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces against the humanitarian flotilla of ships which resulted in the killing and injuring of many innocent civilians from different countries;

2. Deeply deplores the loss of life of innocent civilians and expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families;

3. Requests the ICRC to seek and provide information on the whereabouts status and condition of the detained and injured persons

4. Demands the Occupying Power Israel to immediately release all detained men and material and facilitate their safe return to their homelands.

5. Calls upon the Occupying power Israel to ensure the unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment to the occupied Gaza strip;

6. Welcomes the statements of the Secretary General UN and the High Commissioner for Human Rights condemning the Israeli attacks and calls for the full accountability and credible independent inquiries into these attacks.

7. Decides to dispatch an independent international fact finding mission to investigate violations of international law resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance.

8. Decides to remain seized of this matter.




__________________




U.N. Security Council Statement on Gaza Flotilla

June 1, 2001


The Security Council deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza. The Council, in this context, condemns those acts which resulted in the loss of at least ten civilians and many wounded, and expresses its condolences to their families.

The Security Council requests the immediate release of the ships as well as the civilians held by Israel. The Council urges Israel to permit full consular access, to allow the countries concerned to retrieve their deceased and wounded immediately, and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance from the convoy to its destination.

The Security Council takes note of the statement of the UN Secretary-General on the need to have a full investigation into the matter and it calls for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.

The Security Council stresses that the situation in Gaza is not sustainable. The Council re-emphasizes the importance of the full implementation of Resolutions 1850 and 1860. In that context, it reiterates its grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and stresses the need for sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza as well as unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance throughout Gaza.

The Security Council underscores that the only viable solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an agreement negotiated between the parties and re-emphasizes that only a two-State solution, with an independent and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours, could bring peace to the region.

The Security Council expresses support for the proximity talks and voices concern that this incident took place while the proximity talks are underway and urges the parties to act with restraint, avoiding any unilateral and provocative actions, and all international partners to promote an atmosphere of cooperation between the parties and throughout the region.

(Blessings to UN Watch)

Israel, the ‘peace activists’ and ‘world fury’



Cranmer received an email this morning:

Dear Archbishop Cranmer

I am sure you have seen footage of the IDF taking over the aid convoys for Gaza. It can be no surprise. We should all know the Israelis will do anything to prolong the suffering of the Gazans. They are good at producing atrocities like this. After all, Israel is a racist apartheid state. My thoughts are, though, how are you going to defend your "plucky little Israel" after such sickening behaviour towards people delivering humanitarian aid?

Perhaps you would care to watch this You Tube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xyIUju91DE Do you think Jesus would approve of the IDF's actions there?

Yours sincerely

X

(Name removed at the author's insistence [21 of them], because he now considers his communication to have been 'wrong, foolish, naive, badly written and a mistake', and His Grace has caused him 'a lot of stress' because he 'will face a lot of unwanted attention as a result if [his] name remains'. Being a sympathetic, understanding and compassionate sort of Christian, His Grace therefore grants the author anonymity).
There is no better assurance than a post on anything to do with Israel to bring out the extremists, the unthinking, the irrational and the obtuse. And doubtless the ensuing thread will not disappoint.

In response to Mr X's final question, the answer is unequivocally ‘no’: Mohammed is the one who both used and condoned violence, death and destruction; Jesus refused to take up arms.

But the question is not one of speculating on what Jesus would have done, but on the example set to your co-religionists by Mohammed.

Whatever one’s knee-jerk reaction to Israel’s action against the flotilla of ships heading for Gaza, please watch the video embedded above. And then consider that these IDF soldiers were simply doing their job, obeying orders, and were instructed to use ‘minimum force’.

And then consider, as an armed soldier, faced with this degree of life-threatening violence and hostility from those who profess to be ‘peace activists’, whether or not you would use your weapon to defend yourself.

Consider that these 'aid workers' tried to stab and beat Israeli soldiers to death with iron bars. And then ask yourself if you would consider shooting the assassins and that such a response might be ‘proportionate’.

If your answer is ‘no’, then perhaps you are content to retaliate with a paintball gun and tell the IDF to martyr themselves for YHWH.

The reality is that the Mavi Marmara was on a mission, and that mission, according to Gaza’s Professor Abd al Fatah Nu’man, was to ‘awaken the nation’, to spread ‘the Islamic message worldwide: Islam is coming’ and that ‘these are people who wish to be martyred for the sake of Allah; as much as they want to reach Gaza’.

Further, according to Al Jazeera, these ‘peace activists’ were preparing for violence and described martyrdom as a ‘happy ending’.

If these were simply ‘peace activists’ concerned with nothing but loving their neighbour, then Jesus must have been a jihadist.

The so-called Gaza flotilla comprised eight ships and about 800 people. It was not assembled by peace-loving humanitarians primarily worried about relieving the suffering of Gaza residents; the people of Gaza already have access to food, medicine and other relief supplies provided by both Egypt and Israel. But both countries – jointly and with full military cooperation – have sought to limit the importing of military equipment or arms into Gaza which is compromising the security of both nations. In 2007, Israel and Egypt tightened the blockade of Gaza after the Islamist movement Hamas took power there. It is known by all countries in the region that ‘aid ships’ heading for Gaza have been a front for the importing of all manner of weapons and arms with which Hamas continue indiscriminately to murder and maim Israeli civilians irrespective of race or creed and to destabilise the Egyptian government.

The sea blockade along the Gaza strip is therefore considered necessary for the peace and security of the region.

Israel's actions in boarding the flotilla of ships bound for the Gaza Strip were entirely justified, and it is clear that numerous warnings were given which were ignored. Unfortunately, a legitimate military operation has become a political fiasco which only does further damage to the Israel’s tattered international reputation.

But the IDF are neither politicians nor PR professionals: in a war zone, they are not concerned with the BBC’s ‘world fury’.

Of course one should ‘deplore’ the loss of life, as David Cameron has done.

But it is naïve in the extreme to call on the Israeli government to lift their blockade on Gaza.

When Foreign Secretary William Hague calls for a ‘durable resolution to the Gaza crisis’, he appears not to realise that for the majority of Islamic countries this means a one-state solution called Palestine with the inconsequential slaughter of the Jews: the ‘two-state’ compromise has been on offer for over a decade and has been consistently rejected by both the PLO and Hamas. They want one state with Jerusalem as their capital.

Cranmer has already offered a mediated solution.

And if one requires evidence of the extremists, the unthinking, the irrational and the obtuse, consider that pro-Palestinian protestors in the UK have gathered in their thousands in London, Bristol and Manchester, where campaigners have threatened and intimidated BBC employees, targeted a BBC building, smashing doors and placing a Palestinian flag on the roof.

Anti-Israel, Hamas-supporting protestors targeting the pathologically anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian BBC?

Mr X, do you think Mohammed would approve of the actions of your co-religionists there?
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