Vincent Nichols Brexit 2
European Union

Catholic bishops: picking their principles of social teaching

This is a guest post by Peter Smith: a Roman Catholic barrister practising in London.

______________________

Thus, the Catholic bishops in England and Wales have spoken. The EU Referendum, they say in a statement, is about “the human person”: “We all have a responsibility to keep the dignity of the human person at the forefront of the debate. We must ask ourselves, in the face of every issue, what will best serve the dignity of all people both within Europe and beyond.” The bishops ask for every voter to examine his or her conscience before voting, and invite the voter to view the Referendum through the lens of Catholic social teaching.

It’s that last invitation which is a little suspect. At first glimpse there’s nothing wrong with applying the core principles of CST – a concern for human dignity, the promotion of the common good, a preference for subsidiarity, and social inclusion or solidarity – to the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, exercising prudential judgment after an examination of conscience.

What’s worrying is the way that the bishops have tried to steer the process of application.

They point out that Europe has two millennia of Christian heritage. It does, but the EU can fairly be characterised as a force that opposes the cultural Christian legacy of Europe, contrary to the common good. Take for instance the Eurocrats’ horror at the nomination of Rocco Buttiglione, the debate over the inclusion of God at the start of the preamble to the EU Constitution and, in Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s words, the “more general push towards secularisation” that the EU represents.

The bishops remind us that “The coming together of European countries in the aftermath of a catastrophic war was designed to bind together former combatants and the contribution of the European project to peace in Western Europe should be recognised”.

Whilst undeniably true that the European institutions were an effort to stop further conflict on the continent, they ignore the real question of whether it was the mere existence of the EEC (as it then was) which constituted that effort, or whether it was necessary to construct an “ever-closer Union”. The bishops dodge the question because, of course, the architects of the EEC – many of whom were Catholics, as is well-known – favoured ever-closer union. The bishops themselves side with this approach, which is masked by a cheap appeal to solidarity: “we are called to be generous and welcoming to all others, especially the most vulnerable”.

What, then, of subsidiarity, the making of decisions at the level closest to those subject to the effects of the decision?

Although a formal commitment to the principle was introduced in the Maastricht Treaty, it has been long-ignored as the ugly sister (if not banished brother) of integration. Unsurprisingly, the bishops mention but ignore the principle in their statement, as it stands in head-on collision with solidarity and with the common good as the bishops formulate it (and see, on this point, the Catholic interventions before every General Election since 1997).

What really sticks in the craw is the kite-flying assertion that the vote is “about much more than economics”. Sovereignty, freedom and the right to national self-determination get no mention, of course, but this sleight of hand distracts from answering Pope Francis’ pressing question: “Who is my neighbour?”

The EU is not a free trade area but a customs union. In the application of the four freedoms that stand as the pillars of the Union, there are no barriers between member states – but there are high walls to keep the rest out. This includes the goods, services, and capital generated by billions of people in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and of course the migration of those people themselves.

As James Cleverly MP pointed out in a recent speech, the Common Agricultural Policy is a driver of Africa’s continued poverty. It subsidizes farmers to produce food in quantities we cannot eat. Those subsidies undercut the prices of domestically produced food and Africans are locked out as they cannot compete with European producers nor trade competitively access the European markets: “These policies contribute to Africa, as a continent, importing over 80% of its food. A continent with an estimated 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable farmland, and with millions of people able to work on the land, yet still unable to feed itself.”

What’s worse, the EU has skewed tariffs so raw products such as coffee and cocoa beans can be cheaply imported into the EU, but their processed versions, ready for sale to consumers, cannot. The boring, extremely low margin work can be done elsewhere, but the valuable marketing and sales are done by Europeans. As Cleverly asks, “What is the point in investing in a coffee processing plant or chocolate factory in Africa if the end produce is so heavily penalized by the EU?”

The net result is that the poor are condemned to a lifetime of subsistence or hand-out.

Surely this is an affront to human dignity of such gravity that it conclusively answers the bishops’ question?

  • Albert

    The curious thing about this is that I’ve just read the statement of the bishops and see it as exactly supporting Brexit. I don’t mean that it says so, or intends so, but when I apply what it says here to the EU, the EU looks decidedly bad. Where’s the human dignity in imposing austerity on a Greece which already have mass unemployment and infant mortality figures rising at a shocking rate? Where’s the human dignity in the harm done to the economies of Eastern Europe by free movement of peoples? What about the way that the EU keeps people out who ought to be allowed to come to Britain? The link to the address by Pope Francis, includes this line:

    As the European Union has expanded, the world itself has become more complex and ever changing; increasingly interconnected and global, it has, as a consequence, become less and less “Eurocentric”. Despite a larger and stronger Union, Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion.

    Now, I’m quite sure that most of the bishops will be Remainians, but it seems to me that this statement is fair. Perhaps the author of this post does not get the Christian application in a Brexit direction of some of the principles raised in the bishops’ statement.

  • carl jacobs

    I suspect that there are many reasons for the failure of African agriculture to compete and not just EU tarriff walls. The collapse of Zimbabwean agriculture for example is not due to the EU. It is due primarily to political corruption. In any case, a nation is under no obligation to set its economic policy for the benefit of an outside country.

    My sense is that the EU is more a political icon for a certain faction on the Left. This faction thinks “Nations are bad. The world must evolve beyond nations. We need to achieve cosmopolitan global governance and the EU is the prophet of this new order.” The EU is therefore a political ideal that must be made to succeed at any cost. The collapse of the EU would become the definitive repudiation of this vision of a non-national future.

    Why is the EU non-democratic? Because there is no reliable extra-national polity. Nations if given the choice will continue to observe parochial national intetests. There is an EU “aristocracy” that sits above all this and sees itself as responsible to bring enlightenment to the masses. That aristocracy is convinced that the masses will appreciate the destination if not the journey. But it cannot allow the masses to preempt the journey. They must be told where to go and driven there by force if necessary.

    That’s the way of the Left, after all.

    • Albert

      This is some of the most intelligent writing on the EU that I have seen.

      • carl jacobs

        I could have made a similar argument from the perspective of the political Right. That would have focused on the continued subdivision of Europe into smaller and smaller States. It would have emphasized economic competitiveness and continental security. There is a terrible convergence of elite interests about the EU that collides head-on with national allegience.

        Ultimately the elites can’t prevail without the imposition of a police state. The pressures are just too great to contain without violence.

        But thanks for the kind words. You should apply this principle to Theology … 😉

        • Albert

          I would up vote this as well, but for the last line (which did make me laugh!).

    • IanCad

      How you can write such eminent good sense as in this post and yet such drivel about trump is beyond me.
      Truly Carl, you have called it exactly right.

      • carl jacobs

        Trump. You mean the guy who accused his opponent’s father of being involved in the JFK Assassination cover-up. That Trump?

        • IanCad

          You mean the preacher who said his son was divinely chosen for the Presidency? That father?

          • carl jacobs

            In the first place, that’s a statement about the father and not the candidate, so it’s irrelevant. In the second place, it’s at least a theoretically defensible position. The statement by Trump reflects on Trump himself. And there is no defense for believing in a JFK cover-up. It’s just intellectually dumb. Like the 9/11 truthers.

          • IanCad

            In the brawl that is the race for the Presidency I have learned that all statements are subject to revision.
            Nothing I’ve heard yet is in the same league of nuttiness as the 9/11 truth squad.

    • Eustace

      There may be something in what you say, but rather than seeing nations as something bad, it may well be that many Europeans see them as a concept that has served its purpose, but is no longer particularly useful or relevant.

      If nations evolved out of tribes, it’s not unreasonable to think that larger political entities will evolve out of nations.

      I don’t know if this is where the EU is heading, but the possibility is interesting. I’m not averse to the idea. But we’re a long way from achieving it.

      What we need to get cosmopolitan global governance off the ground is for some big spaceships to appear over our major cities, and for Charles Dance in red latex with horns to tell everyone we have to be big kids now and cooperate with each other instead of squabbling like infants.

      But I suppose the Yanks would just nuke him and we’d be right back where we started. +Sigh+

      • carl jacobs

        … for Charles Dance in red latex with horns …

        Google informs me that this has something to do with something called “Childhood’s End”. That’s about all I know of it.

        … big spaceships to appear over our major cities …

        There are no giant spaceships. If there were spaceships, our level of cooperation wouldn’t matter a tinker’s dam. In fact, if the aliens came here to harvest us for food, you wouldn’t even have the ability to say they were doing something wrong.

        Nations are a restraining influence on the evil of men. If you want true tyranny in the world, then monopolize violence into the hands of one power.

        In addition, there is a sense of dissolving the intimate close connections of life in your comment. It seeks however inadvertently to destroy the mediating institutions between the individual and the governing authority. People do for their family what they will not do for strangers. To change that attitude is not to expand the family but to abolish it. Nations are likewise closer mediating connections. We aren’t atomized individuals existing in a sea of humanity. When everyone becomes family, no one is.

        • Eustace

          Every Christian should watch “Childhood’s End”. It provides an alternative explanation for a central part of the Christian tradition that would bring a smile to even the dourest Calvinist face. It certainly had me rolling on the floor laughing.

          And you’re probably right. There are no giant spaceships. Or at least there’s no proof that any giant spaceships exist. There’s also no definitive proof they don’t exist, so perhaps they’re out there somewhere. But here they’re conspicuous only by their absence, so to all intents and purposes as far as we’re concerned, even if they do exist, they may as well not.

          The chances of giant spaceships appearing in our skies and forcing us to be nice to each other are therefore slim to none. If they did come however, I’m not sure I accept your premise that their motivation for being here would be to eat us, or even conquer us. The logistics of interstellar travel must surely preclude hunting expeditions and territorial conquest. It’s a long way to come to set up a tinpot colonial outpost or to chow down on a few stringy primates.

          I suppose they might be looking for a planet to turn into an isolated penal colony. We might be their intergalactic version of Australia, and if so, then our fate may be similar to that of the Aborigines. Not a pleasant thought for you or me, but in a couple of hundred years the descendants of our generation might get their own back. Just like the plight of Aborigines, the predicament of our progeny might prick the consciences of the right-on, guilt-ridden and politically correct grandchildren of the colonisers and shame them into providing humans with equal rights, generous welfare payments and the respect and deference due to a “first nation people”.

          Just as we may no longer call Ayers Rock Ayers Rock and must now call it Uluru, it could well be that in a relatively short space of time following an alien invasion, our cities would get their old names back and our descendants would live comfortable lives in them thanks to alien technology, alien medical knowledge and super-efficient alien sewers. Humans would live longer, healthier lives. They’d have the alien answers to McDonalds and multiplex cinemas. It could well be paradise on earth.

          I’m fully aware that none of this is likely to happen, of course. Still, that doesn’t make it any the less interesting to contemplate…

          Back in the real world however, your assumption that a world state would destroy the “mediating institutions between the individual and the governing authority” is at best highly contentious. When tribes coalesced into nations, “mediating institutions” developed naturally in response to the new need for mediation. There is no reason to suspect that the same thing wouldn’t happen in a world government scenario. New “mediating institutions” will arise and society will adapt to the new situation. Families will continue to exist, and groups of families will identify as communities. Groups of communities as regions, and so on and so forth.

          None of this is likely to happen in our lifetimes, of course. It may never at all. But the idea that it might does not fill me with dread or foreboding. Quite the opposite. If mankind could unite and harness the fullness of human potential, who knows what we might not be able to achieve?

          • Do you think aliens would permit homosexual ‘marriage’, Eustace?

          • Eustace

            I’m sure they do, if they exist.

        • Have you noticed there’s a distinct whiff of garlic and bile in the air. Wonder what the source is.

          • carl jacobs

            You are being cynical and suspicious, Jack. I must be having a good influence in you.

            But I don’t see it. Not yet, anyways.

          • Give him time. It’s becoming clearer with every one of his posts.

          • CliveM

            You’re always slow on the Linus uptake!!

          • carl jacobs

            I prefer to describe it as prudent.

  • David

    I agree with this article.
    The bishops of the C of E are also largely just as blind and wrong-headed as their Catholic colleagues. Why ?
    Because I believe that their left-leaning desire to support the current dominant view of the Labour Party (which is the very opposite of its former view) overwhelms them. Then myopically they fail (perhaps deliberately) to see the wider constitutional picture or the deleterious effects of the EU on the world beyond the borders of little Europe. Our current UK generation of Christian leadership is as uninspiring as is the rest of the establishment. The people know better !

    • Albert

      The paradox is that it seems to me that, even more than the right, the left should be in favour of leaving. After all, in the last referendum they were, and it was the late 80s before they came around to it – by which time of course, the left was less left anyway.

      • David

        Agreed Albert.

        My only explanation is that the middle class dominated Left seems more swayed nowadays, by airy fairy impractical principles which are never evidence based or tested against reality. That is because its middle class members are largely not engineers, accountants, lawyers or business owners, but largely educated in Universities and given airy fairy ideas that are in fact ideals, of a sort, rather than concrete Christian based virtues.

        They also believe in the inevitable progress of history and other clearly false liberal (modern definition) doctrines. This allows them to ignore the lessons of history, which is very dangerous. Previously more gritty realistic types, that had emerged from the working class, held more sway in the Labour Party. Hence patriotism and realism has largely left Labour.

        In short nowadays the Left, being dominated by metropolitan, well insulated types, is simply not interested in reality.

        • Albert

          I think this is a really good analysis. The odd thing about educated people who hold right on views, is that they tend not to know very much about the views the hold. Ask a Brexiter to give moral or Christian reasons to stay in, and he will give them. Ask a Remainian to give moral or Christian reasons to come out and they will won’t have any idea.

          • pobjoy

            All should be aware that the true interests of Catholicism is in Britain remaining, because the whole purpose of the EU is to do what the Armada, Louis XIV, Napoleon, the Kaiser and the Nazis failed to do. So when UK Catholics take the ‘Leave’ position, they are only feigning patriotism so that they can worm their way into power if Britain leaves.

          • Albert

            So actually, it’s a Catholic plot either way!

            If only…

          • pobjoy

            It’s the age of Bergoglio.

          • Albert

            Gosh! You make it sound so exciting!

          • pobjoy

            Sorry to disappoint. It’s more desperation than excitement.

          • Albert

            Go on! Give Catholicism a try!

          • pobjoy

            Join a sinking ship?

          • Albert

            How do you measure sinking?

          • pobjoy

            Two ‘popes’ simultaneously is a sign of getting into PR problems. Jorge “Who am I to judge?” Bergoglio would have gone within a few days, when popes were popes.

          • Albert

            This is pretty opaque.

          • pobjoy

            Then how about this. I recently asked five Catholics about the position of Protestants with regard to their spiritual status. I got five distinctly different, apparently well-argued replies, ranging from acceptance of Protestants as equals of Catholics, equally deserving of heaven, to the view that all Protestants should be burned, deserving hell. Rather neat, as it happened. These views are anyway available to see on the internet, if one looks in the right places.

            This discord applies to almost all matters, from transubstantiation to clerical celibacy There are Catholic Buddhists, Catholic voodooists, you name it. The only topic that seems to meet agreement is the status of Mary, which is of course the only dogma upon which ‘popes’ have declared themselves infalliible. But then Muslims take a similar view, so even that isn’t saying much. So what is the point of having a ‘father’ if he is just a peripatetic PR man, to be ignored in practice?

            The irony is that the unity provided by a ‘Father’ is what is lacking from Protestantism, Catholics say. Though there are no Buddhist Protestants, afaik. But of course, anyone, including Jesuits, can call themselves Protestants, and many believe that they are doing so, so this is a disingenuous view, anyway.

            It’s no advert to attract an intelligent person of integrity.

          • Albert

            This is very confused. The Catholic Church gives clear teaching, and clear reason for the teaching (i.e. authority). The fact that some Catholics may not accept that teaching, does not count against Catholicism. It just means there are some bad Catholics.

          • pobjoy

            The Catholic Church gives clear teaching, and clear reason for the teaching (i.e. authority).

            If that is true, it makes even less sense that Catholics treat their Magisterium as if it does not matter. The fact on the ground is that you can get any sort of opinion from a Catholic. The joke is that, at last, the word ‘catholic’ applies, because there is every point of view to be found in the Vatican’s following! So what is the point of having a ‘father’ if he is just a peripatetic PR man, to be ignored in practice? It makes far more sense for a sincere seeker after truth to investigate an organisation that does not seem to be both chaotic and dishonest.

          • Albert

            Your premise seems sound to me – it makes no sense for a Catholic to treat the Magisterium as if it does not matter. But the conclusion you draw from this is fallacious. The fact that there are bad Catholics around does not mean Catholicism is false or dishonest. It just means that our doctrine of sin is correct.

          • pobjoy

            Oh, come on. It’s not just theory. Cardinals, bishops and priests have been master practitioners of sin, and still are, eh. So a decent, honest and intelligent person will not be welcome in the Vatican’s following.

          • Albert

            You are confusing two things: sinful acts, of believing Catholics, and sinful and irrational unbelief of inconsistent Catholics.

            Bad people are to be found everywhere pobjoy. Have you not noticed?

          • pobjoy

            On the contrary. What you will find is that the only way to distinguish most Catholics from a completely non-religious person is to see if they go to Mass on Sundays. And you might wait for many months! You might find out only after they have died!

            Otoh, people who do bad things, say bad things, are not found among Christians. That is why people become Christians. It’s a different thing altogether, as every Catholic who becomes Christian says. The cult of the Vatican is light years away from the real church. As far as east is from west.

          • Albert

            The argument of the first paragraph looks irrelevant to me.

            And the second paragraph is just bizarre at so many levels.

            people who do bad things, say bad things, are not found among Christians

            Is there a word missing here?

            It’s a different thing altogether, as every Catholic who becomes Christian says.

            Catholics are Christians.

          • pobjoy

            The argument of the first paragraph looks irrelevant to me.

            Surely not. A simple, semi-literate mind would write that.

            Is there a word missing here?

            People who do bad things, say bad things, are not found among Christians.

            No, looks fine.

            Catholics are Christians.

            Is that because they go to Mass every few years? Looks like the broad road to h*ll.

          • Albert

            Surely not. A simple, semi-literate mind would write that.

            You are describing your first paragraph?

            No, looks fine.

            Which Bible are you reading?

            Is that because they go to Mass every few years? Looks like the broad road to h*ll.

            I don’t suppose it ever occurs to you to inform yourself about the things you disagree with, does it?

          • pobjoy

            You are describing your first paragraph?

            Yours. Try reading mine again; I’m sure you can do better.

            Which Bible are you reading?

            Ah. So you realise I made use of Bible precept.

            I don’t suppose it ever occurs to you to inform yourself about the things you disagree with, does it?

            My disagreement is based on experience, as you probably fear. Not that it is necessary. As everyone knows, there are Catholics who do not go to Mass for years on end, but still call themselves Catholics. There are people who regard the Vatican as antichrist, but they are still accounted Catholics by the Vatican. So do not feign ignorance; again.

          • Albert

            So you realise I made use of Bible precept.

            No. That’s my point.

            So do not feign ignorance; again.

            Your arrogant assumption that you think you know what I am thinking does you no credit, either intellectually or morally. Actually, I don’t “fear” that your argument is based on experience. I just read things you say, and think “Well, I just don’t follow that.” Perhaps if you toned down the abuse and turned up the argumentation, it would be easier to answer you. You are hard to answer, not because your arguments are strong, but because they are not really arguments.

          • pobjoy

            No. That’s my point.

            Or just your desperate lie.

            I just read things you say, and think “Well, I just don’t follow that.”

            Don’t get upset. Everyone else does. 🙂

            Perhaps if you toned down the abuse

            The abuser is yourself only.

            PUBLIC WARNING

          • Albert

            The abuser is yourself only.

            As far as I can see, your main response to people’s comments it to accuse them of telling lies. That’s something you are not placed to do. Therefore, it’s immoral and abusive. If you want to post arguments great, but what you post at the moment isn’t that.

          • pobjoy

            PUBLIC WARNING

          • Little Black Censored

            The Magisterium is an interesting notion. It is the reason why some people are convinced RCs and at the same time why some people aren’t.

          • Ssssh, Albert.

          • pobjoy

            Ahah.

          • Grouchy Jack

            The Jesuits have been dispatched.

          • pobjoy

            😀 Even that remark is ambiguous.

          • Anton

            Is Vatican City a Catholic plot?

          • Albert

            It’s more the end of the previous Catholic plot.

          • David

            What are you on ?
            It isn’t April 1st you know.

          • pobjoy

            Who sent the Spanish Armada?

          • David

            The correct answers (The Catholic Spanish ) says nothing about present conditions.
            You may not have noticed but, Catholics and Protestants are no longer avowed enemies. Nowadays most of either persuasion recognise that we have much in common, including enemies.

          • pobjoy

            So Catholic Europeans sent 55 000 heavily armed troops, in 130 heavily armed galleons, to quell English Protestantism. That was a very large, very expensive operation in that period. Had it succeeded, history would have been very, very different.

            You may not have noticed but, Catholics and Protestants are no longer avowed enemies.

            That does not stop them being unavowed enemies.

          • David

            A number of us who frequent this admirable site could be considered a little eccentric, maybe including me – others may judge.
            But your proposition, which appears to be, that southern “Catholic” Europe is a threat to us here, in “Protestant” northern Europe, is beyond risible. Good luck to you and your delusions. You are several hundred years out of date. But I am simply not going to waste my time debating the stark, starring obvious. Have a good evening.

          • pobjoy

            But your proposition… is beyond risible.

            Yet the poster responded to it. Twice.

            You are several hundred years out of date.

            With the Lord, a thousand years are like a day.

            —————

            Transubstantiation claimed, and clerical celibacy enforced, 1215

            Marsilius’ Defensor Pacis, 1324

            Lollard Conclusions, 1395

            John Wyclif’s bones exhumed and burned, 1428

            Council of Trent, 1545-63

            Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer burned, 1555, 1556

            Queen Elizabeth I declared heretical, 1570

            Spanish Armada, 1588

            Civil war, 1642

            Blenheim, 1704

            Trafalgar, 1805

            Torres Vedras, 1810

            Papal infallibility claimed, 1870

            Kaiser Wilhelm, 1914

            Reichskonkordat. 1933

            Battle of Britain, 1940

            Assumption of Mary claimed, 1950

            EEC, 1957

            Now the British PM says they will start another world war if we leave their scheme in 2016. Well, that would be entirely in the spirit of Catholicism, anyway.

          • David

            Thank you. This has been borne out well by my recent practical “field work”.
            My work with Ukip has recently taken second place to helping the local branch of “Grassroots Out” (GO), which after the wrong (and morally corrupt?) decision of the biased Electoral Commission to select the “Vote Leave” group, immediately morphed into “Vote Leave”. It matters little to me whose name is on the leaflet, as I simply want my country back.
            So helping to man Saturday stalls in East Anglian country towns, I found that many people on the Leave side, of all types and ages, were very well informed and brimming with gritty evidence pointing to the horrors of the EU and the advantages of leaving. Uneducated people are often very “on the button”, educated as they often are in the University of Life.
            That contrasted sharply with the lofty disdain of the Remain camp (often superior well heeled LibDem types) who when challenged, produced the most shallow, almost childish, “teenage ideals” type of answer. My God did they sneer down at us – some were horrible people. They were clearly not people who did practical things, like manage budget sheets, worry about turning a profit, and certainly not ever get their soft hands dirty ! They were usually just rather unrealistic people, viewing the world through rose coloured lenses from their non-inquisitive, closed minds. Catchy, shallow slogans, not well thought through arguments, were their stock in trade.
            The Leave supporters were usually passionate, always definite, and knew and understood much of what was happening to their country. The Remain camp were self-satisfied, smug superior types who knew little and understood even less. The country has too many “educated” fools !

          • preacher

            Were they Rose coloured or just the blind leading the blind ?.

          • David

            Don’t know Preacher. Does it matter ?
            Because either way, the use of the “sight” impaired idea serves to illustrate my point.

          • preacher

            Really just agreeing with you brother, the whole thing reminds me of the story in Tom Sawyer where some who laughed at first were none the less drawn into the charade. It could happen here !.

          • David

            Indeed !
            God bless.

          • Eustace

            Great way to influence people to change their vote. Insult them until they give in to your demands.

            How likely is that to happen, do you think?

            My experience of Brexiters so far is that challenging their arguments merely provokes a torrent of personal abuse.

            Strangely enough, this has not won me over to their camp.

            Unless I hear some cogent and convincing arguments about why Brexit is the best thing for the UK, which I haven’t heard yet (it’s all been emotional nationalistic nonsense with very few hard facts and even fewer figures) I will be voting to remain.

          • David

            Some very “cogent and convincing arguments about why Brexit is the best thing for the UK” have already been given to you on this thread, which you ignored. So there is little for me to gain in entering the same loop ?
            Indeed as you seem determined not to engage with those points, and instead cling to conclusions based upon what you describe as your personal experiences, as given above, which must be very individual ones indeed, I can but note that you remain a “remainer”.

          • Ah, Linus, you’re back.

          • Eustace

            Eustace is the name. But by all means call me whatever you like.

          • Tell Jack, have you at any time posted on here using the name Linus?

          • Eustace

            What a strange question.

            What makes you think I have posted here under another name?

          • Please answer. You’re not obliged to, of course, but it would be very much appreciated.

          • Eustace

            I’m intrigued to know why you think I’ve posted here before.

            I did open an account here a while ago and I posted a few messages, but the tenor of the conversation didn’t suit me, so I didn’t stay.

            That was some time ago. At least a couple of years, I think. And for the life of me I can’t remember what screen name I used. I suppose it may have been Linus, but I have no recollection of ever using that name. If I did however, and you remember the few short posts I made well enough to recognise me now, I’m really rather impressed. You must have the memory of an elephant as well as a significant gift for literary analysis.

            You’re not one of those chaps who analysed the Gospels and worked out which bits were original and which were added later by different hands, are you?

          • Hmm …

          • CliveM

            That must be the least convincing post I think I have ever read.

          • Eustace

            Charming!

            Aren’t Christians just the warmest and most welcoming people you could ever hope to meet?

            Not…

          • CliveM

            Ok if it’s a welcome you want, welcome back Linus.

            Although this all seems a bit needy for a disappearance of 1 hour.

          • Eustace

            You all have Linus on the brain. It’s a real obsession.

            I wonder, is this how the legend of Satan started? In some far-off Jewish past did a poor unsuspecting chap called Satan annoy a group of fundamentalist believers to the point where they wrote him into their myths as the embodiment of all evil?

            In two thousand years I assume the Bible will be full of references to Linus the Great Deceiver. Christians will scare their children with stories of him. And all because some random commenter on a random blog ruffled a few feathers and put a few noses out of joint.

            See how religion works? Shouldn’t it give you pause for thought?

          • You exaggerate your significance, Linus. What an ego.

          • Eustace

            It’s not me who keeps harping on about Linus. You seem to see him under every stone.

          • He tends to hide under them, that’s why.

          • The technical term is bullshite.

          • With your permission, Jack could ask the host of this weblog whether your IPS address is the same as a former poster. This would clear up any doubt. Do you consent to this?

          • Eustace

            But if I am this other poster, wouldn’t such an exercise be rather pointless? If I wanted to hide my identity, I could easily pass via a proxy server.

          • Yes or No?

          • Eustace

            Yes or No what?

          • Bye, Linus. What a bore you are.

  • Anton

    The Left needs to decide whether Free Trade with the West is a good thing or a bad thing for the Third World. Beyond that, the Catholic bishops apparently trot out the same crap on this subject as everybody in large organisations seems to, whether CoE bishops or financiers.

  • pobjoy

    They point out that Europe has two millennia of Christian heritage

    They don’t point it out, they claim it. And they are the only people who can be identified as those mentioned, with the utmost irony, by the apostle Peter.

    ‘Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.’ 2 Peter 1:21 – 2:3 NIV

    To claim to be Catholic is to claim to be criminal; and almost all of the EU leaders are Catholics.

    • carl jacobs

      Exactly so. We should arrest Jack forthwith.

      • pobjoy

        The USA was so very late in fignting Nazism.

        • carl jacobs

          Yes. We should atone for that mistake by arresting Jack. The world expects us to do the right thing.

          • pobjoy

            Then the USA wil press for the return of Vatican City State, the gift of Mussolini, to Italy (that, as part of the EU, has a duty to reclaim it anyway).

          • carl jacobs

            Is Jack responsible for that transfer as well?

          • pobjoy

            Perhaps Peter Smith can explain to Catholics why Benito’s benevolence should remain legally justifiable.

          • It’s called a treaty – numb-nuts.

          • carl jacobs

            Well, yeah. But … besides that!

          • pobjoy

            A treaty with a police state of course gives a Catholic no cause for concern. Indeed, any other arrangement is impossible, if full Catholic freedom is to be maintained.

          • Albert

            Hello?

      • Albert

        Hey! What about me? 🙁

        • carl jacobs

          Well, to be honest. We’ve been trying to remove Jack from circulation for a long time. The just might be a prosecution of convenience. He’s a master criminal who needs to be put away. Preferably in solitary confinement. Where he can’t speak. About anything we might not want him to speak about.

          • William Lewis

            Nobody expects the Calvinist Inquisition.

          • pobjoy

            Servetus did.

          • William Lewis

            Really? Was he on a suicide mission then?

          • pobjoy

            Why he returned to Geneva has never been explained.

          • William Lewis

            Indeed.

          • Albert

            But why don’t you want me put away? Are you suggesting I am not sufficiently Catholic?

          • carl jacobs

            Because you aren’t annoying.

          • Grouchy Jack

            Carl Jacobs…you’re a major nit wit.

          • carl jacobs

            You don’t actually think Man U will finish ahead of Man City, do you. Is this what you are hoping for?

          • William Lewis

            Now that you have summoned up the blueberry you will have to make a fruit salad.

          • carl jacobs

            If we had just arrested him, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Pobjoy gave us the perfect opportunity. But did we take advantage of it?

          • William Lewis

            Well hindsight is a wonderful thing but what are we going to do with this infestation of fruit loops?

          • carl jacobs

            I don’t know. A rag and duct tape come to mind.

          • William Lewis

            That’s a bit amateur for an Inquisition, Carl.

            Fetch the juicer.

          • carl jacobs

            Perhaps the Comfy Chair?

          • William Lewis

            I can see that you are not really cut out for this.

          • Anton

            No anti-semitic references please!

          • William Lewis

            All my references are fully kosher, I’ll have you know!

          • Who is Happy Jack? He is supposed to be Irish. Some say his father was Jewish. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Old Blowers tell it, anybody could have worked for Jack. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. And like that, poof. He’s gone.

          • This is all because Jack burst your little bubble and called you Dork Lard, isn’t it?

          • carl jacobs

            No, it’s all for the public good.

          • Did you nose just grow several inches?

          • carl jacobs

            What does a growing nose have to do with an obvious public good?

            In the frozen land of Nador they were forced to eat the purple blueberry. And there was much rejoicing. Yaaaay!

          • Very odd behaviour, Carl. Is it the prospect of voting for Hilary?

          • carl jacobs

            Poor Jack. His evil plan was undone.

          • Swansea will come good.

          • carl jacobs

            If it’s any consolation, it was a good evil plan.

          • William Lewis

            That’s very unfair on Albert, I’d say. He can be extremely annoying when he puts his mind to it.

          • carl jacobs

            Only in that “He can be a difficult opponent” sort of way. Jack on the other hand … Well, just read this thread.

          • Anton

            But he’s trying…

          • carl jacobs

            Ooh. Well done. Good use of ambiguity.

          • So are you.

          • Anton

            Thanks for the uptick nevertheless, Jack!

          • Albert

            Cranmer thinks I’m annoying.

          • Afraid of the outcomes of the end of the Premier season, Carl?

          • carl jacobs

            Pfffft. See, this is just you being annoying.

    • ” … almost all of the EU leaders are Catholics.”
      Is that true?

      • pobjoy

        Juncker, Prodi, Rompuy, several more.

        • Grouchy Jack

          Name them.

          • pobjoy

            Name two who are not.

          • Grouchy Jack

            Angela Merkel and François Hollande.

          • pobjoy

            I meant EU leaders in Brussels/Strasbourg.

          • The only one of your three currently holding any EU office is Juncker.

            You should withdraw the claim: ” … almost all of the EU leaders are Catholics.”

          • pobjoy

            The only one of your three currently holding any EU office is Juncker.

            Well, you can’t have two popes at once, can you.

            Oh, hang on…

            Tusk, Barroso, Santer, Thorn, Delors, they occasionally let someone else in just to show it’s not apostolic succession. Not quite.

          • And the Catholic leaders of the EU?
            Barroso no longer holds office.
            Santer no longer holds office.
            Delors no longer holds office.

            You’ve named two Catholic politicians in total.

          • pobjoy

            Barroso no longer holds office

            But, no worries, there’s another papalist to take his place.

          • Name all these Catholic politicians occupying positions of power in the EU. Were you lying?

          • pobjoy

            ‘almost all of the EU leaders are Catholics’ means that succeeding EU Presidents are usually Catholic. Now how that is better than lesser positions being filled by Catholics, simultaneously, I don’t know. But I don’t suppose that it will be admitted that this ‘papal’ succession is unsatisfactory.

          • So now what you saying is what really mean is: “succeeding EU Presidents are usually Catholic.”
            What Presidents – there are four in total?
            Some evidence would be good.

          • pobjoy

            So now what you saying

            How can Catholics be taken as Christians?

            But Draghi and Lenaerts are yet more names that readers may like to investigate.

          • Another two Catholics. Wow. It’s looking more and more like you’re wrong.

          • pobjoy

            So four of the key EU posts: President of the EU Comission, President of the European Council, President of the European Central Bank, and President of the European Court of Justice are held by Catholics, often succeeding Catholics, and that means I’m wrong? Can I please have an explanation?

          • carl jacobs

            Just out of curiosity (since I know atheists and functional Buddhists who self-identify as Catholics) what do you mean by “Catholic”? Are you seriously that these people are sock-puppets for the Vatican?

          • pobjoy

            It is nonsensical to suppose that any politician is a sock puppet for the Vatican, and that has been the case for most of the history of the Vatican. Nobody with two working brain cells believes that there has ever been a pope. The cult was created by the police state that was Rome, and for only a brief period of about a century did it get ideas that it could rule Europe’s civil rulers. Be assured, it was not cardinals who elected Bergoglio, or any other ‘pope’. it is others who do that, and they may not even be Catholics. The general rule is that the Vatican is the ideal tool of police states, as it was invariably throughout the Middle Ages,and as the 20th century showed, in Italy, Germany, Spain, even France, and S American countries (including Bergoglio’s Argentina).

            Now not all Catholic politicians are problematic.Some of them are working class ‘victims’ of the RCC, who have not have had much education, and may have a generally benevolent view. But the likes of Prodi, Rompuy and Barroso are not of this sort, and for the leaders of a political agency to believe that a man who may be a horrible pervert can make God with his bare hands, or that Mt 16:18 referred to Peter, is simply not credible. These people cannot be trusted.

          • carl jacobs

            Oookay, then. So as both Jack and Albert will tesitfy, I am no friend of the RCC. So I am making a statement against interest. Let’s just lift one claim from that post and test its veracity.

            Be assured, it was not cardinals who elected Bergoglio, or any other ‘pope’. it is others who do that, and they may not even be Catholics.

            Prove that statement, and tell me the identity of these nameless “others”.

          • pobjoy

            Let’s just lift one claim from that post

            You mean rip it out of its supporting context.

            What Catholics you medieval Yankees are.

          • carl jacobs

            I didn’t rip anything out of context. You made a positive claim. Establish the truth of your positive claim.

          • pobjoy

            I didn’t rip anything out of context.

            You did, thereby showing that you believe every word I wrote.

            But then, you always do. 🙂

          • carl jacobs

            You said that cardinals didn’t elect the Pope. That statement is capable of being verified independent of everything else you said. So … verify it for me. Who are these others?

          • pobjoy

            You agree that I did not say that politicians are sock pupets for the Vatican. Thank you.

          • carl jacobs

            So is this the “Assert a non-sequitur and flee into the mist” strategy? It won’t work. You have already been exposed. You need to answer the question. Otherwise, your failure is complete.

          • Lizards did it. Masonic-Jewish ones.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, that is my conclusion as well. Shape-shifting lizards from Andromeda. Of course, Pobjoy could offer a better explanation.

            No, on second thought, he probably couldn’t.

          • pobjoy

            EU leaders, more likely.

          • carl jacobs

            These would be the same EU leaders who are Catholics and therefore tools of the RCC? But at least you identified a group. So then. Produce some evidence that this is true – where “evidence” is defined as “something other than your assertions.”

          • But Carl you know proof of a good conspiracy is a lack of evidence.

          • carl jacobs

            Ya know … come to think of it … the whole grapefruit motif could be the product of … A SHAPE SHIFTING ALIEN!

            Who are you really, Jack?

          • Keyser Soze.

          • carl jacobs

            Liar! You are Terl, aren’t you.

          • If Jack is, then those are your last words.

          • carl jacobs

            Pffft. I have my E-Meter. You are powerless against me. What are those things hanging out of your nose, anyways?

          • pobjoy

            If Jesus chose Peter, why did Peter not choose his successor?

            Why is the gospel so terrifying that it drives intelligent people to apparent insanity?

          • carl jacobs

            Ah! The “Let’s start a theological argument and change the subject” gambit.

          • pobjoy

            Let him reply. He doesn’t need excuses.

            Do you, happy one?

            🙂

          • carl jacobs

            I’m still waiting for you to answer my one very simple question.

          • Uncle Brian

            É melhor esperar sentado. You’d better wait sitting down. Old Brazilian saying.

          • If the Gospel drives intelligent people insane, then you’re safe,

          • pobjoy

            Of course. But if Jesus chose Peter, why did Peter not choose his successor?

          • No doubt you’ll let Jack know.

          • pobjoy

            Jack knows that Peter was not the greatest disciple.

          • Uncle Brian

            … why did Peter not choose his successor?

            I’d been half expecting this. The L-word …. Could it be ???

          • pobjoy

            Lumbago? Perhaps.

          • Uncle Brian

            You do know the name of Peter’s successor, don’t you?

          • pobjoy

            This is not a place for brainwashing.

          • Uncle Brian

            comment deleted

          • No. Carl brought him here from the Spectator blog.

          • Pubcrawler

            No, there is a far more glaringly obvious candidate.

          • Coincidence.

          • pobjoy

            😀

          • CliveM

            Haven’t seen you around for a while!

    • Old Nick

      I am not sure how many New Testament scholars (starting with Origen and Eusebius of Caesarea) you would find who think that 2Peter was the work of S. Peter the Apostle. It is one of the few books where all the fuss about which bits of the NT the Early Church regarded as canonical is justified. What is your authority for regarding it as canonical, or even worth quoting.

      • pobjoy

        2 Peter is in the canon of the organisation that calls itself ‘the Catholic Church’. What is more, the same organisation has frequently quoted 2 Peter in defence of what it considers its unique competence to interpret the Bible.

        • Old Nick

          So you accept the Church’s authority to define the canon. Who else could, I suppose ?

          • pobjoy

            Indeed. Of course the church defined the canon, just as soon as it was written and received; long before the imperial cult was even formed. The imperial cult had no option but to accept 2 Peter because the church accepted it. Had it omitted any NT book recognised by Christians, it would have lost much-needed credibility.

          • Old Nick

            The Imperial Cult started with Augustus, and grew out of Hellenistic ruler-cult. There are good studies by Simon Price on its practice in Asia Minor and by Duncan Fishwick for the West. I do not see what that has to do with the New Testament or the Christian Church

          • pobjoy

            The imperial cult began with Constantine. Find your spectacles, do.

          • Old Nick

            You are wrong on many counts. The imperial cult was instigated enthusiastically in the East and (despite what you might think from reading Tacitus and other senators) relatively enthusiastically in provincial Italy very soon after Augustus ’emerged’ as the principal power of the Roman World.
            If you are seriously interested in modern historical scholarship on Constantine, I suggest you acquaint yourself with the work of Professor T.D. Barnes whose two books (and numerous articles) about the first Christian emperor have the merit of being constructed from all the many tiny fragments of contemporary evidence, including the not inconsiderable volume of utterances by the emperor himself. Previous work on the emperor (e.g. Burckhardt) had proceeded by making a priori assumptions about the emperor’s character and convictions and then going in search of snippets which might sustain such assumptions. Such drivel continues to be written (e.g. by someone called A. Kee, and by the well-known populariser M. Grant), but serious scholarship, thank God moves on.
            You will also find that one of Constantine’s sons did indeed permit the erection of a temple of the Imperial Cult at Spello in Umbria but made it exceedingly clear, in a way that only a Christian would do, that the temple was not to be polluted by sacrifice. But I fear that this is not what you have in mind, and that you are merely using the phrase “imperial cult” to make some sort of unworthily pejorative reflection on your fellow-Christians. Before you do that, you should acquaint yourself with the historical facts.

          • Uncle Brian

            A quick question, if I may. Constantine and the Conversion of Europe by A.H.M. Jones, an old (1940s) Pelican book. It’s very short, not much over 200 pages. Can it safely be taken as a sound introduction to the subject?

          • CliveM

            So many good books recommended on this site, so little time.

          • Pubcrawler

            So little shelf-space…

          • CliveM

            Hmmm, a source of marital discord in my house :0(

          • Uncle Brian

            So much wear and tear on the reading glasses. Not to mention the eyeballs.

          • CliveM

            Ok a question (and any can answer), I’m looking for a good biography on Charlemagne, any suggestions?

          • Uncle Brian

            Sorry, Clive, I’ve never read a biography of Charlemagne, but he features quite prominently in The Barbarian Conversion, From Paganism to Christianity, by Richard Fletcher. It covers the history of the pagan conversions outside the borders of the Roman Empire, beginning with the Anglo-Saxons, followed by the Franks, the Saxons, the Scandinavians, the Moravians, and from there down the Danube as far as Bulgaria. The Wends and Lithuanians get a brief mention but the book doesn’t deal in depth with Russia and Eastern Europe. Fletcher writes very readably, you could even say entertainingly, which for me is an important consideration.

          • CliveM

            Thanks UB, I will bear it in mind. With the Brexit vote coming up, I thought he would be an appropriate read.

          • Uncle Brian

            CliveM
            In that case, I think you’d enjoy Chapter 7 of The Barbarian Conversion, about Charlemagne’s conquest of the Saxons. Apart from Charlemagne himself, the most prominent character in this chapter is Alcuin, the Northumbrian who rose to be the top ideologist of the Holy Roman Empire. Earlier in the book, writing about the cathedral school at York, Fletcher says:

            Among others it educated Alcuin, that early example of the brain drain who, head-hunted by Charlemagne, king of the Franks, was the architect of that revival of literature and learning under royal patronage, the so-called Carolingian renaissance, which was the threshold to the cultural achievements of western Christendom in the Middle Ages.

          • CliveM

            Ok thanks UB

          • Old Nick

            Dear Uncle Brian, The Barnes book to which you give a link (Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the LRE) is indeed the one I would most recommend. It is (for an academic work) readable, it contains his latest thoughts (including some I have doubts about, such as his theory about the date of Christmas) and it is concerned with topics which general readers might find interesting (Helena, the Foundation of Constantinople, the Vision of the Cross – though on that Vision I prefer the article of O. Nicholson in Vigiliae Christianae 2000). The earlier book Constantine and Eusebius is (as the title suggests) more heavily concerned with the Biblical scholar and historian Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea of Palestine than suits most tastes – and also scholarship has moved on since 1981.
            Jones I have not looked at it for some years. Until Barnes it was the clearest thing around. Two caveats, one particular one general. The first is that Jones wrote the Constantine book originally before he made an important discovery. Much energy in Constantine scholarship went into discussing whether the Life of Constantine by Eusebius (which apart from anything else contains a lot of letters and other dicta of the Emperor) was indeed a contemporary work or an early mediaeval forgery. In 1954 Jones himself published an article showing that a 4th century papyrus bore on it the text of one of Constantine’s most Christian pronouncements, quoted in the Eusebius Life. It may also be said that Jones did not take sufficient account of the evidence of Lactantius, a Latin Christian who lost his job in the Great Persecution, was tutor to Constantine’s son and wrote the first ever general introduction to Christianity in Latin.
            My more general reason for preferring Barnes to Jones would be that Jones was a great historian of institutions – his Later Roman Empire is still the bible for historians of the Late Roman state apparatus – but he was just not interested in religion as such. As religion (of whatever sort) was patently an important motive for Late Roman folks this forms a bit of a gap in his account. He was a great scholar, but I am not sure that the sort of things he considers are those which might concern an historian of religion and mentalités.

          • Uncle Brian

            Old Nick
            Thank you for taking the trouble to write such a long and detailed reply to my query. I never realised Lactantius was such an important historical figure. In fact I only remember him as a character in Waugh’s Helena. When the news of the Edict of Milan reaches Trier, Helena asks Lactantius whether it’s true that her son saw a cross in the sky before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, and Lactantius replies:

            “All we know is that the Emperor is behaving as though he had seen a vision. As you know, he has brought the Church into the open.”

            “Beside Jupiter and Isis and the Phrygian Venus.”

            “Christianity is not that sort religion, ma’am. It cannot share anything with anybody. Whenever it is free, it will conquer.”

            Lactantius’ last remark may perhaps reflect Waugh’s view of the standing of Christianity in the mid-twentieth century, but times have changed.

          • Old Nick

            Not much of an admirer of the Waugh book, though the appearance of Lactantius (and even more so the Donation of Constantine) is entertaining.
            I do not believe Christmas has anything to do with the Sun. Early Christians were exceedingly careful about exact dates. Cyprian tells deacons they should note the dates on which persecuted Christians died on prison so that their deaths could be commemorated at Mass on the correct day, just as if they were public martyrs. And there is the whole mathematical maze of the computus which attempted (from the late 2nd century onwards) to understand the whole of history since the Creation using OT history and contemporary science. Early Christians had calculated that either the Crucifixion or the Resurrection occurred on 25th March in the year we call 29 AD (when Jesus was 33 years old). Perfect people lived mathematically perfect lives (Moses died on his birthday), so it was possible to extrapolate rationally that Jesus’s conception occurred on 25th March (though the liturgical festival of the Annunciation is not mentioned until the 7th century). Christmas is therefore 9 months later. I did not make this up. Here is Augustine On the Trinity IV, 5: For He is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also He suffered….. And there is a excellent article in the Biblical Archaeologist by a scholar from Melbourne: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-topics/new-testament/how-december-25-became-christmas/
            The Temple of the Sun at Rome was built by the Emperor Aurelian (270-75) – it is not some fane dating from the mists of time, nor is the cult of the Sun (as opposed to philosophical speculation about it, and also as opposed to cults of Apollo) a fixed part of Roman religion – you will seek it in vain in Ovid’s Fasti. It is my guess that the Feast of the Sun is no older than that Temple, and the first document to mention it on December 25th (the “Chronicle of 354”) is also the first document definitely to place Christmas on December 25th (unless you allow an even earlier mention in Hippolytus of Rome in the mid-3rd century). There were various other dates floated in the 2nd/3rd century for Jesus’s birthday, but without being boring I think that the 9 months after the Annunciation theory fits best the mathematical way that Christians such as Theophilus of Antioch, Julius Africanus and Eusebius of Caesarea actually thought about such things.

          • Uncle Brian

            That’s fascinating. Thank you. It does, however, raise further questions, if you don’t mind me pumping you for information like this. You say “25th March in the year we call 29 AD”, but what did they call it? The sixteenth year of Tiberius? And, if so, how did they reconcile that with Luke 3.1?

            McGowan’s article that you link to mentions the dating of the Last Supper according to the Jewish calendar. On the question of 14 or 15 Nisan, i.e. whether or not the Last Supper was a Passover meal, what is your view of Joachim Jeremias’s argument in The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, that despite Jn 18:28 John does, in fact, describe in several other places what can only be a seder? For example, the meal didn’t begin until after dark; they were reclining, not sitting; and Jesus does not return to Bethany that night, among a dozen or so other hints pointing in the same direction.

            I hope you don’t mind me grilling you like this. Tell me stop and I’ll stop.

          • Old Nick

            They called it the consulate of the two Geminii or xv Tiberii (because Romans count both ends of a series). Dionysius Exiguus (c. 500 AD) made an error of 4 years in calculating the date of Jesus’s birth when he inventing dating AD (adopted in our Isles first by Bede). So by any reckoning (without taking into account the vexed question of the census and Luke 2: 1) Jesus was born in B.C. 4 – which is why Archbishop Ussher dated the Creation to BC 4004 (on our reckoning).

          • Uncle Brian

            Thank you!

          • pobjoy

            you are merely using the phrase “imperial cult”

            With historic and semantic support. What the plainly prejudiced poster called ‘the Church’ was, and is objectively a cult, and its leader Bergoglio bears a title derived from one once borne by Julius Caesar, one inherited from the ancient kingdom of Rome, whose workforce was duped by a Pontifex Maximus directing priests offering sacrifices. It is a concept that may have been taken from Israel, that promised a future Chief Priest of a supernal kind, but fatally perverted for absolutist political ends until the modern age, and used sporadically even into the 20th century. Neo-Nazism has not died out.

            Our correspondent is evidently firmly of the view that this priest was Jesus of Nazareth, and that the fatally perverted Bergoglio cult is a means of suppressing his noisome followers. Perhaps, before posting any further (and wasting his time and energy with spurious stuff), he might like to consider the following, taken from the Articles of Religion of the Church of England.

            ‘We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort…

            Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins…

            the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission ofpain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits…

            Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions…

            The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England’

            and behave with appropriate courtesy.

          • Old Nick

            It is amazing that Mr. Pobjoy should be so much more informed about the true character of the Christian faith than all the generations which have gone before him. Life is too short to enumerate all that is wrong with what he has to say, but he might like to note the fact that the title Pontifex Maximus (instituted indeed by Numa Pompilius and held by successive Roman emperors well into Late Antiquity) began to be used by the Popes of Rome only in the mid-15th century, in a fit of Renaissance antiquarianism; there is no continuity with its use by pagan priests. ‘Pontifex’ is, of course, one of a very broad set of terms used for bishops, along with episcopus, praesul, antistes and sacerdos, and was therefore a word which changed its meaning in Christian usage. If he is going to recommend to me reading (with which I am perfectly familiar, thank you very much) I would commend to him a perusal of Tract XC, which if it proves nothing else proves that the 39 Articles were written with considerable care to make assent to them possible for a very broad range of Christians. I pass over in silence his aspersions on my courtesy and scholarly integrity.

          • pobjoy

            the title Pontifex Maximus (instituted indeed by Numa Pompilius and held
            by successive Roman emperors well into Late Antiquity)

            While Roman ‘Christian’ clerics from Constantine onwards were permitted to use the title ‘pontifex’. Try not to be a complete idiot.

          • Old Nick

            If you consult the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae you will find that the term ‘pontifex’ has a perfectly good (pre-Constantinian) Christian pedigree applied to Christ (e.g. the Vetus Latina translation of various passages of Hebrew and of Psalm 110). There is therefore a thoroughly Christian logic in applying the term to those who show the Lord’s Death until He comes.
            Words do not necessarily have the meaning you wish them to have. For instance when you call me an idiot, I assume that you wish to signify (more Graeco) that I have notable individual qualities, and that you are far too courteous to be calling me stupid.

          • pobjoy

            There is therefore a thoroughly Christian logic in applying the term to those who show the Lord’s Death until He comes.

            So all Christians are pontifices. A royal priesthood, indeed. What a clever poster you are.

          • pobjoy

            The Thirty-Nine Articles, in their original Latin, make the distinction
            between the Anglican concept of ‘priest’ and the Roman concept of
            ‘priesthood’ very clear. It refers to de ordinatione Presbyterorum, the ordination of presbyters, or elders, who in the church have no spiritual authority beyond that of the elders in the Israel of Moses. In Israel, the sacerdotal role was ‘a shadow of what was to come’, in Paul’s words. It was pre-figurement of Christ, whose own priesthood totally abolished all pretence of human priesthood, once and forever, if the New Testament is truth. Whereas, in the Articles, the Roman concept is described in pagan terms: vulgo dicebatur sacerdotem offerre Christum in remissionem poenae aut culpae, the claim of Rome to offer Christ in remission for guilt and punishment. Any Roman plebeian under Julius Caesar would have recognised that principle, less the reference to Christ.

          • Old Nick

            And the Ordinal makes it perfectly clear that we are talking about priests.

          • pobjoy

            Presbyters, yes.

          • Old Nick

            Just because the word Presbyter is used by Presbyterians it does not mean that it was accorded a Presbyterian significance in the Early Church, and it is pretty clear to me that it was not. I doubt if any Roman plebeian, or even patrician, would recognise ‘pontifex’ as referring to Christ in the time of Julius Caesar, as Julius Caesar died on the 15th March 44 B.C., which is (allowing for the commonly recognised error of Dionysius Exiguus) approximately 40 years before the birth of Jesus – and they were unlikely to be excessively clewed up on notions of typology. The Ordinal makes it clear that the Church of England believes itself to have priests and the Order of the Visitation of the Sick and the Absolution at Matins and Evensong both make it clear that the Church permits the practice of private confession and requires the pronouncement of absolution to penitents.

          • pobjoy

            Just because the word Presbyter is used by Presbyterians

            Just because the Article capitalised ‘presbyterorum‘ does not mean that the CoE is of Presbyterian polity (though, as many Anglican theologians have pointed out, there is no reason whay it should not be). Neither does it mean that the early church was of Presbyterian polity in the Reformation sense. It was merely a habit in earlier times to capitalise important words. It is incorrect English and misleading now, as we well know, but allowances must be made for historic documents.

            I doubt if any Roman plebeian, or even patrician, would recognise ‘pontifex’ as referring to Christ in the time of Julius Caesar

            😀 So do I. Perhaps you should have gone to Specsavers?

            The Ordinal makes it clear that the Church of England believes itself to have priests

            Of course it believes itself to have presbyters. The word ‘priest’ is a contraction of ‘presbyter’ via ‘prester’. So ambiguity is present in English-speaking contexts, and any disciple of Jesus pronounces condemned, not absolved, those who take advantage of it. As Paul wrote to Timothy, teaching is the primary task of presbyters:

            ‘Are you persuaded that the Holy Scriptures contain all Doctrine required as necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? And are you determined, out of the said Scriptures to instruct the people committed to your charge; and to teach nothing, as necessary to eternal salvation, but that which you shall be persuaded may be concluded and proved by the Scripture?

            Answer. I am so persuaded, and have so determined, by God’s grace.’

            and the Order of the Visitation of the Sick and the Absolution at Matins and Evensong both make it clear that the Church permits the practice of private confession

            The Absolution refers to ‘his people, being penitent’. It nowhere mentions private confession. In the ‘necessary’ context of a volkskirche, that signified a reminder to all members of congregations of the need for confession to God, as the next sentence makes very clear:

            Wherefore let us beseech Him to grant us true repentance, and his Holy Spirit.’

            The Visitation of the Sick refers to the ‘power of his Church’ to absolve all sinners, power left by God. This ‘leaving’ referred to all disciples, not just presbyters. So there is no sacerdotalism in this, as many have pretended there to be. Any Christian can confess to any another.

          • Pubcrawler

            “the church defined the canon, just as soon as it was written and received”

            Except it kinda didn’t happen like that:

            http://www.ntcanon.org/table.shtml

          • Old Nick

            What your table shows most elegantly is that the various apocryphal gospels which are announced with fanfare in the New York Times and articles on the wickedness of Christianity by B.D. Ehrman were not thought much of in the Early Church – thank you, I will steal ! What it fails to show, of course, is the level of dubiety about Revelation, which was beaucoup discuté for a long time (even though there were those who quoted it with approval). And the importance (what do we mean by canonicity ?) of 2Peter was, as you say, not immediately embraced. [The only other problem with your table is of course that it does not make clear to those unfamiliar with the authors concerned that some of these patristic texts are actually not v. long, and so easily might not feel the urge to quote certain texts].

          • Pubcrawler

            Oh, I didn’t make the table, I just posted a link. It is at least a handy rough guide to demonstrate that the road to the NT canon was not as smooth and obvious as pobjoy seems to think; the greater detail that you note is lacking in the table you should find by chasing the links within it — the great benefit of hypertext when deployed properly.

            Revelation, yes, a real can of worms…

          • Old Nick

            The table would make a handy teaching tool – if I were not retiring this term !
            There is a rather good passage in Cyril of Jerusalem where he justifies some apocalyptic statement by saying, “I write not from apocryphal books, but from Daniel”.
            What I always find odd about Revelation is that though the Orthodox are often in antiquity officially suspicious (despite the reliance on Daniel) their art is full of illustrations from it.

          • Pubcrawler

            Unhappy timing!

            As I understand it, the Orthodox are still officially cautious about Revelation and, while accepting that it is canonical, do not include it in the lectionary (or whatever the Orthodox equivalent is).

          • Old Nick

            I think that is right about the Orthodox lectionary – just was not sure. And then look at the parecclesion of the Chora Church: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/the-parecclesion-of-chora-museum-funerary-high-res-stock-photography/149695729

          • pobjoy

            It is at least a handy rough demonstration that the road to the NT canon was not as smooth and obvious as pobjoy seems to think

            Has an NT canon been defined? If so, who has defined it?

          • Pubcrawler

            Synod of Hippo

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synod_of_Hippo

            But it was still a few centuries until the Eastern Church recognised Revelation as canonical. Not every book of the present NT canon was ‘recognised instantly’, then, and some now excluded were once widely accepted.

          • pobjoy

            393 CE. How many of the participants did you know personally?

          • Pubcrawler

            The same number as you.

            –30–

          • pobjoy

            The same number as you.

            So people are expected to accept a canon of scripture, upon which an afterlife may depend, on the ground that an internet poster called ‘Pubcrawler’ says so.

            Tell your friends, folks!

          • Pubcrawler

            No. You’re being silly now.

            –30– (again, and definitely this time)

          • pobjoy

            –30–

            Is that supposed to read 30, thirty? That you personally knew/know thirty people who were at this so-called Synod?

          • pobjoy

            Everyone recognises the NT, within picoseconds of reading it. Not everyone likes what they read, as the NT predicts. And if you recognise it instantly, Pubcralwer, you can be sure that the chuirches who first read them did so, too. Don’t be taken in by far right twittery.

            What makes Peter Smith’s organisation absurd is that it claims to have been responsible for the whole Bible, yet it cannot prove one of its distinctive teachings without recourse to ‘deutero-canon’ or its own unfounded authority. It is farcical!

            It would not stand up in court, anyway.

  • preacher

    Leaving aside the political dimensions of the case ( Which are many, varied & usually result in confusing the issue ) I feel that we must decide on the obvious historical facts & the current situation.
    1/
    We never signed up to this unelected Euro government. We were lied to & sold a pig in a poke by a dishonest P.M who new fully what the ultimate aim was, yet denied the truth & lied.
    2/
    Dishonesty & deception are brazenly employed by the E,U parliament to further their grip on the victims of their deception i.e Greece.
    3/
    It’s become increasingly obvious that David Cameron is desperately using fear tactics to keep us in. He has not come up with anything factual, it’s all just more smoke & mirrors.
    Why won’t he debate openly with Gove, Johnson, or any other main Brexit leader ? Because he knows the outcome !. He achieved nothing that can’t be cancelled by the E.U after the fish has swallowed the bait.
    4/
    If the British people continue to play in a crooked casino where the cards are marked & the wheel is loaded so obviously in favour of ” The House ” there is little the rest of us can do to avoid the waiting catastrophe.

    This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to escape ( Perhaps the fact that we still have the Pound rather than the Euro was Divine intervention to provide us a life raft ? ). I will take no pleasure in saying ” I told you so !” in a few years to a bankrupt & struggling Britain.
    Be wise, vote OUT on the Twenty Third & let’s regain some pride & freedom that our young men gave their lives to deliver to us, don’t let the pen be mightier than the sword & their sacrifice be in vain.

  • Uncle Brian

    James Cleverly’s analysis of the Common Agricultural Policy and its impact on third-world farming is absolutely unchallengeable. What we don’t know, however, is whether a post-Brexit independent UK would adopt a policy that was significantly different.

    If Heath had never joined the Common Market in the first place and successive governments had never changed the old farm subsidies policy, then that would have been a better deal for third-world food producers. But can we be sure that, post-Brexit, we will go back to the old system? I don’t think so.

    • Albert

      It would be important to support our farming industry, not least because it would not be clever to have the entirety of our nutritional needs franchised out. But we have a small and efficient farming industry. The CAP protects the large inefficient farmers of Europe from competition from poorer farmers outside the EU. So it seems to me that we would be able to support our farmers and still give a better deal for the developing world.

      • Uncle Brian

        I fully agree, Albert. Please see my reply to Anton, about eight or nine comments up from this one.

      • IanCad

        Albert,
        I haven’t checked it out but I seem to recollect that here in the UK we produce something like 65% of our own food. It seems to me like an astonishingly high proportion. If it is so, then, if our huge wastage is factored in, we are just about self sufficient.
        We no longer need all those big steamers.

        • Albert

          A quick check suggests you are about right. We import about 40% of our food. Of course, lots of things have to be imported because we cannot grow them here.

          • Anton

            I believe that farming techniques mean we could now be self-sufficient if we had to be (although various tropical items and other things would obviously be off the menu). This was not the case during WW2 and the population was less then; I believe that better fertilisers are responsible for the change, but I welcome comments from those who know more. Whether we could become self-sufficient within a few weeks, IO don’t know – another interesting question.

        • Uncle Brian

          These percentages need to be handled with care. It’s possible to read too much into them. Two questions, in particular, need to be asked:

          > Are imports of things like wheat and beef, in competition with British producers, being lumped together with bananas, olives, and other products that have to be imported because they can’t be grown here anyway?

          > To what extent is today’s level of self-sufficiency the direct outcome of forty years of the CAP? This will have wide-ranging implications for future agricultural policy alternatives under a post-Brexit independent UK government.

          • IanCad

            Yes! UB. Figures are tricky beasts.
            Let’s look at caloric self-sufficiency, which may give a different perspective.
            The UK is a fertile land with a mild climate. Our entire caloric needs could be met from the bounty of only four thousand square miles of potatoes, or three thousand square miles of apples. It leaves an awful lot of land available for other crops and dairy products.

      • dannybhoy

        “But although the UK has a thriving farming sector – it exported £12Bn of food and drink in 2007 (ref 2) – Britain is not self-sufficient in food production; it imports 40% of the total food consumed and the proportion is rising (ref 1).
        Therefore, as a food-trading nation, Britain relies on both imports
        and thriving export markets to feed itself and drive economic growth.”
        http://www.foodsecurity.ac.uk/issue/uk.html
        and also,
        “Rising population will hit UK’s self sufficiency if government continues to ignore British food production, say NFU.”
        http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/24/uk-will-need-to-import-over-half-of-its-food-within-a-generation-farmers-warn

        If the UK continues its membership of the EU we can guarantee that more arable land will disappear for ever as more people seek to make their home here..

    • pobjoy

      I don’t think so.

      Britain would not be subsidising the CAP, and could import at sustainable prices. It would be in a free Britain’s own interest to develop healthy relationships with African farmers. Corbyn would certainly advocate that, anyway.

      • preacher

        True, but to rely on Corbyn ( who may not last too long anyway ) is like sitting on a creaky chair, you don’t know when it will collapse under you, but you know it will & when it does it’ll hurt !.

        • pobjoy

          But Corbyn represents a majority of Labour members; and even Blairites would see sense in co-operation with Africa.

          (Corbyn is not nearly as flaky as he is made out to be, anyway. He’s been an MP a long time, and has got things worked out. That does not mean that he is right about everything, but then neither is anyone else. He can give at least as good as he gets, when he puts his mind to it.)

          • preacher

            Yes, but he seems to try to run with the Hare & the Hounds.
            At the moment he’s with the Stay in camp.
            Also one feels he is simply ‘ caretaker manager ‘ but he changes with the wind.

          • pobjoy

            People have different perceptions. Buit if Brexit wins, and if he becomes PM, he and Labour will have no difficulty in supporting African agriculture on ethical grounds. The Tories, however, might.

          • preacher

            That’s Two big if’s brother, followed by a might !. LOL.

          • pobjoy

            Indeed., 🙂

    • Anton

      Food supply is about more than economics. It’s a wicked world and there are arguments for being self-sufficient at national level, which is possible given modern farming.

      • Uncle Brian

        Exactly, Anton. Being self-sufficient in food production is exactly what it’s all about. For France, Germany, and others, self-sufficiency in food production has always been, and still is, a top priority, which is why they have the CAP. For Britain, up until the seventies, it wasn’t, which is why the old British system of farm subsidies made due allowance for a large volume of food imports and was consequently significantly less harmful to third-world farmers.

        • Royinsouthwest

          With the exception of the two World Wars Britain has not pursued a policy of self-sufficiency in food production since the abolition of the Corn Laws which kept prices high and were particularly oppressive to the poor who had left the land to find jobs in industry.

    • Pubcrawler

      “But can we be sure that, post-Brexit, we will go back to the old system? I don’t think so.”

      Depends on whether the government of the day thinks there’s any votes in it.

  • the EU can fairly be characterised as a force that opposes the cultural Christian legacy of Europe

    Just this week, an EU grand fromage, Pierre Moscovici, laid into Christianity with some relish:

    “The former French economy minister said yesterday that he does not believe ‘in the Christian roots of Europe’. Asked about the election of a Muslim mayor in London, the first such event in a Western capital, the European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs replied: ‘Even if it is true that, on our continent, there is a majority of the population who are, let’s say, cultural or religious Christians, Europe is not Christian. I do not believe in the Christian roots of Europe. I believe Europe is diverse. United and diverse. Moscovici emphasized: ‘The election is a symbol of progress and Europeanism, a beautiful symbol.’”

    • preacher

      There seems to be an awful lot of ” Beautiful E.U symbols ” about – most or all of non Christian origins.

      • Albert

        Unlike the EU flag, which is decidedly Catholic.

        • preacher

          A separate issue Albert when viewed alongside the Pagan statue of Europa on a Bull & symbolic copies of the Tower of Babel.

          • Albert

            You’re going to have to explain those references to me. Are you saying these symbols are found in the EU? (Or am I missing the point dreadfully?)

          • carl jacobs

            There are people who think the EU Govt building was consciously modeled after (a famous painting of) the Tower of Babel.

          • Albert

            Oh yes! If only I was an Evangelical, I would now have another compelling argument against the EU!

          • carl jacobs

            See, now you are just trying to be annoying.

          • Albert

            What has a Catholic got to do to be arrested these days?

          • Call Carl The Dork Lard.

          • carl jacobs

            I think you have been in Scotland too long. You accent is starting to creep into your writing.

          • pobjoy

            That depends on how rich you are, so be careful. The principle of clerical immunity is one of the oldest Catholic Traditions, of course, but that presumably does not apply.

            There is no crime that a Catholic can commit that a cardinal has not already committed, with impunity. So it’s a matter of luck, really.

          • Anton

            Try repeating publicly some of the things Catholics said about Islam a few centuries ago.

          • Eustace

            Get a job in an orphanage?

            Open a bakery in Soho?

            Have a drink with an Italian journalist?

          • Old Nick

            No shortage of bull in the EU

          • Pubcrawler

            But is it Papal Bull?

    • carl jacobs

      He is advancing the idea that religion is incidental to civilization. In this understanding, man is (ahem) progressing towards a common understanding of morality that is not dependent upon religion. Where does it come from? From within man himself. This is the Creed of Modern Secular Man – “I will perfect myself by my own right hand.”

      • @ carl jacobs—I think the supranational élites have nothing against certain religions; the threat of divine wrath can be very effective in bringing the people to heel (and no religion does divine wrath quite as well as Islam). But the élites have taken against one particular religion.

      • Eustace

        Say rather “I will strive to improve myself through the acquisition of new knowledge” and I think you’ll be nearer the truth of the position of secular humanists.

        • carl jacobs

          Where to “improve” means to “converge on a limit the existence of which is known”, correct?

          • Eustace

            Incorrect, at least to my way of thinking. “Improve” means to grow in knowledge. So far it’s been an open-ended process.

            Say rather that “improve” means “converge on a goal, the existence of which is expected, but which may turn out to be something completely different, which may in turn lead to new goals and new perspectives”.

          • carl jacobs

            “Improve” is a quantitative evaluation. It means to reduce the error between the estimate and the true value of the quantity being estimated. It does not mean to “grow in knowledge” because people can manifestly grow in knowledge without being morally improved.

            You don’t need to know the truth of the thing estimated, but you must have some understanding of the measurement error or you are doing nothing of value. So, yes, you are attempting to converge on a limit that you think you already understand. Otherwise, it would be impossible for you measure improvement.

            Unless you want to say “Wherever I end up is improvement.”

          • Old Nick

            Pelagius dwelt in Ancient Rome
            And taught a doctrine there
            That whether you went to Heaven or Hell
            It was your own affair.
            Whether you went to Heavenly Joys
            Or down to Hell to burn
            Was nothing to do with God, my boys,
            It was all your own concern.

          • Eustace

            The meaning of the verb “improve” that I’m familiar with is “to bring to a more desirable or excellent condition”.

            What you’re describing is the meaning of the verb “measure”.

            If I strive to improve myself, I strive to obtain more knowledge in the belief that it is desirable to know more. The more I know, the more desirable the state of increasing knowledge becomes. As there’s no upper limit on desirability (i.e. the next thing may always be desired more than the last no matter how much the last thing was desired), limitlessness is built in.

            Knowledge is not limited to facts and figures. It also encompasses, among other things, moral knowledge. An increasing knowledge of what constitutes moral behaviour ought therefore be an integral part of my quest for more knowledge. If it is not then I’m voluntarily choosing not to acquire more knowledge, which doesn’t seem like a very desirable state of affairs to me. I can’t think of anything I know that I’d rather un-know. Ignorance is most definitely not bliss.

            Who knows, as I grow in knowledge, perhaps I’ll change my mind and choose not to gain more knowledge about particular concepts or ideas. I may even seek to forget knowledge I’ve acquired but find undesirable once I know it. I can’t see it happening, but perhaps I haven’t yet acquired the knowledge that makes me understand that it must. Who can tell?

            Perhaps such knowledge, if it exists, will turn me into a Christian. But if that’s the case, I have no way of knowing it yet. All I can do is pursue the acquisition of more knowledge with the aim of bringing myself to a condition that I judge to be more desirable or excellent than my present condition. In that respect wherever I end up is an improvement on where I was before. You may judge it to be lacking. But I’m not at all sure that someone else’s judgment of my situation counts for very much. Either to me or to God, if He really does exist.

        • ‘There is nothing new under the sun’ to be learned as far as morality is concerned.

    • dannybhoy
      • Uncle Brian

        Your link doesn’t work, at least for my little old laptop. The URL is over 700 characters long. Could that have something to do with it?

        • dannybhoy

          Ah.
          Sorry about that UB.
          I have tried to isolate it, but Google can’t/won’t allow.
          It’s going to lose its impact, but the picture shows a European standing with a hangman’s noose around his neck. The other end of the rope is attached to the branch of a young sapling representing Islam…
          The man is using a watering can……

          • Uncle Brian

            Yes, pity we can’t see it. Who awarded the prize, btw?

          • dannybhoy

            Dunno that either!
            Unless someone can tell me how to get a picture from an email to this blog, you are going to be left hanging, UB… :0)

          • Anton

            Try creating a tinyurl for it, although I can’t guarantee that that will solve the problem.

          • Uncle Brian

            I tried that, it didn’t make any difference. The same notice showed up on my screen as before..

          • Pubcrawler

            If it’s an image embedded in an email, then you’re stuck. But it’s a familiar trope. Something like this?

            http://m.imgur.com/gallery/9s0GR

          • dannybhoy

            Well done PC. That’s the picture the cartoon is based on. The one that was sent me is more stark, and perhaps came from some odd corner of the cyber universe..
            I have chased around and this is all I could find relating to the picture is gm1.ggpht.com.
            My friend is very interested in art and design.

      • @ dannybhoy—The link 404s.

    • “I do not believe in the Christian roots of Europe…”

      So he is denying a historical truth. This is typical of liberal intellectuals who are bent on recreating past history in the likeness of their desired future. It is one thing to say that they hope to see the Christian faith eradicated from Europe in future, another to deny its significant influence in the past.

      Two thousand years ago, Europe (if you exclude Greece and Rome which were very different civilisations then) was probably the most backward continent in the world. Every progress and blessing it has since enjoyed can be traced to the existence of a faithful church, being salt and light in their midst; a church, small in number but significant and influential.

      How much longer will God tolerate such ingratitude? His words to Israel in the past should be a warning to Christians today –

      “Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you…” (Deuteronomy 28:47-48 NIV)

  • Inspector General

    Sad old Africa. This from Mr Globalization – Tackling the paradoxes of globalisation. 2011
    ———————-
    “Africa also underwent a demographic explosion as life expectancy increased thanks to modern medicines and improved hygiene, improved food production and distribution, and a high birth rate. Africa may have had a population of less than 100 million in 1900, by 1960 it had risen to 200 million, by 1990 to 450 million and today over 700 million. Food production could not keep pace, so that large amounts of food now have to be imported”
    ———————
    More from this marvellous author…
    ——————–
    “Following the second World War, decolonisation started, often peacefully. Despite the enthusiasm for independence, there was a massive lack of educated and trained manpower to govern these new countries which were unprepared for independence (today Africa loses an average of 70,000 skilled personnel a year in brain drain to developed countries). They were also bereft of basic infrastructure and public health facilities. Ethnic relationship was an important factor in many government appointments. While governments often started with democratic systems, many quickly became authoritarian and the military became a major force, This may have helped consolidate these new countries, but it was not so favourable to their economic development. It was also a source of conflict within and between nations.”
    ——————–
    It doesn’t help that the unit of human organisation in Africa is based on the tribe as opposed to the family. You only had the latter when the race involved had marriage. Marriage is a relatively new concept to the African. (We won’t consider the polygamous indulgences of the tribal chief). Anyway, if you belong to one tribe and happen to meet up with members of another, violence cannot be ruled out…so yes, you can be a most prosperous food producer in Africa – if your neighbours allow you to be…

    • Ivan M

      The Chinese are teaching the Africans. Many of them of work and live in the conditions that Africans themselves live in. They may yet transform the continent.

      • Inspector General

        Apparently not. The Chinese have made it clear that their presence in Africa is purely resourcing raw materials, which need to be mined and shipped on a railway they built to the East coast. The only teaching going on is for the benefit of locals who provide the manpower. The Chinese have also stated that once they are done, if they ever are, and have pulled out, you would never know they’d been there. African Chinese hybrid children excepted…

        • Anton

          That might be what the Chinese authorities say, but colonialism is never that simple.

          • Inspector General

            They are not colonising in Africa. For a start, the Chinese are outrageous racists…

          • Anton

            You think that would back up your view rather than mine?

          • Inspector General

            Your view is not true, sir.

          • Anton

            Cultures that are on the up always want to colonise. It’s part of fallen human nature. Economic power is never enough for such cultures.

          • Inspector General

            Not the Chinese. They are for the Chinese and no one else. It was towards the end of the last century that the West was concerned about Chinese involvement in Africa. The Chinese have been faithful in what they said.

          • Anton

            Time will tell.

          • Inspector General

            The Chinese share a border with India. They tell their children that behind the border live ‘the monkey people’. That is an example of their attitude. To be frank using what one knows of the Chinese mentality, they would consider the black African beneath their concern and have no intention of being their meal ticket ( as the West has unfortunately become) now or at any other time in the future…

          • Ivan M

            The Chinese are showing the Africans that they can rise up with their own resources. There is no need to emulate the West, therein lie the example.

          • Inspector General

            You won’t get too many 5000 to 1 bets in the future, but if you do find one and it concerns the chances of whether black Africa is going to “rise up with their own resources” one recommends you shouldn’t waste your money…

  • len

    The EU is quite plainly anti God (or at least anti the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob)
    So to be Christian and to subscribe to EU policies will take a lot of compromise indeed to compromise so much you might as well give up any pretence of being a Christian at all.
    Secularists don`t mind Christians doing their ‘good works’ and helping people( not a bad thing to help people) but as soon as Christians start preaching the Cross people take offence but it is only through the preaching of the Cross of Jesus Christ that people might get saved.
    Church Joined to State, Church joined to EU Superstate?. Only the church will suffer now as it has done in the past from the corrupting influence of the State….

    • Ivan M

      Your last lines are ominous. Is the beginning of some anti-Catholic drivel?

      • len

        if the cap fits?

        • Ivan M

          Oh dear…

          • len

            Precisely….

      • Anton

        Don’t worry. In England it’s the CoE.

  • The Explorer

    Off topic, but the reporting of the Munich stabbing in which one died and three were injured is interesting. The assailant apparently shouted, “Allahu Akbar!,” and “You nonbelievers must die!”

    The motive for the attack is seen as a mystery. Drugs are given as a possible explanation; mental instability as another. Those might well both be factors, but I can think of a third possibility that seems to have been ruled out of consideration.

    • dannybhoy

      Did Greater Manchester Police send an apology??

      • Inspector General

        Greater Manchester Police hath no greater love than to exonerate the religion of peace…

        • dannybhoy

          I just wondered if one of their lads had lost his way en route to the training exercise at the Trafford Centre…
          Can’t wait to see what happens when Benny Hinn hits Manchester in September..
          http://www.bennyhinnmanchester.com/
          Attendees should ensure their personal injury insurance is up to date and they have bandages, plasters and jim-jams – in case of an overnight stay..

          • Anton

            The Benny Hinn Show? I recall his comment about each of the Trinity being in each, so that were really nine; his comment about wanting to mow his critics down with a “Holy Ghost machine gun” (as found in Ephesians 6?); his reluctance when challenged to provide a verifiable list of healings, and the failure to verify them when he did, shown on the TV documentary A Question of Miracles; his droning of the phrase “touch not the Lord’s anointed” when challenged by critics including evangelicals (who are also presumably the Lord’s anointed); his use of crowd manipulation techniques which caused one authority to compliment him on his expertise. All easily googlable.

          • Ivan M

            The man sounds like he is challenging the faith-healers on their own turf.

          • sarky

            That piece of crap makes me glad to be an atheist. A disgusting manipulator of the sick and poor. “Sow a seed and get rich and healed”. Disgusting.

          • Anton

            Do compare him against the Bible you used to read and decide for yourself whether he behaves like a Christian.

          • sarky

            I don’t, but many do.

          • dannybhoy

            I was thinking more along the lines of the selectiveness of political correctness Sarks, not Benny Hinn himself.
            I was just wondering whether in the interests of community harmony, the Police might feel they could even things up by going in heavy handed on the Christians..

          • The Explorer

            If it was a role play exercise, the guy in question obviously got carried away. But when five of Somali extraction gangbanged a woman in Sweden, the Swedish press reported it as a
            four Swedes and one Somali. Technically, that was accurate: four had Swedish citizenship, and one was a recent arrival. But it created a misleading impression about ethnicity.

    • Ivan M

      He wasn’t given any change for his train fare? “I’ll keel yoou ! I’ll really keel yoou!. Owwww.”

  • IrishNeanderthal

    What about our Prime Minister’s latest gaffe ahead of the Anti-Corruption Summit?

    I must say! Where’s Bocaccio when you need him to do another De-Cameron?

    • Ivan M

      He is making up for lost time. Apparently homoerotism didn’t get a fair shake in the Decameron. Expect some ghost-writing from the talented Linus.

  • I commented earlier that ‘the élites have taken against one particular religion.’ This is from today’s Washington Times:

    A Harvard law professor has called for liberals to begin treating like Nazis those who subscribe to Christian or conservative beliefs. In a Friday blog post at Balkinization, Mark Tushnet said conservatives and Christians have lost the culture wars, and now the question is ‘how to deal with the losers.’

    • Ivan M

      When can we expect the trials and confessions JR? You know these fellows don’t do things by half.

      • @ Ivan M—One does get the sense that they are moving in for the kill; I guess it’s the best opportunity they have had in 2,000 years. Imagine the pandemonium if a Christian, or anyone, had made those remarks about Jews.

        • Ivan M

          Those who have always felt this way, no longer feel the need for a “Judeo-Christian” fig leaf. The joke is on the evangelicals, but they are probably too stupid to realise it.

    • johnb1945

      Tushnet is being provocative. Considering his wife is Unitarian – a type of Christian last time I looked, I struggle to believe he is “anti-Christian”.

      America is full of Christians who are not, in fact, particularly Christian. They believe the Bible, Torah and all, is the inerrant word of God for a start.

      And they are politically powerful.

      America is the country where constitutional freedom of religion was invented. Those who wish to incorporate any religion into secular law are going to provoke a reaction. I don’t see Tushnet as being especially more controversial than some of the stuff flung in the opposite direction.

  • len

    The wheel has turned full circle for Christians and now you either accept’ the state ordained version of Christianity’ (social Gospel only.) Or become a ‘full Gospel Christian fundamentalist’,(in the minds of secularists and even some of the religious divisive, unloving,and judgemental’.)This is a time when those who do not have a love of the Truth will be deceived and become part of the end times apostate Church .This is a present reality for many professing Christians.
    This is a time when there is enormous pressure to be’ conformed to this present world system’ where the Church is sliding ever further into apostasy as greed and false teaching become ever more prominent.Christians are on ‘Gods threshing floor’ where the wheat is being separated from the chaff.

    • Anton

      Where do you mean? There is as yet only very mild persecution indeed in Western countries, except in their Islamic communities.

      • len

        There are many types of persecution.What Satan cannot kill he corrupts as he has done and still is doing in the church.There is also spiritual persecution which Paul suffered as a demonic entity persecuted him and influenced the crowds to attack Paul.
        Paul describes the fight against satanic influences and pressures that many Christians face as ‘a wrestling match’;

        Ephesians 6:12King James Version (KJV)

        12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places

        • Ivan M

          Is this why you spend 3/4s of your time wrestling against Catholics?

        • Russell Brown

          We wrestle not against flesh and blood as we wrestle with people’s minds, “spiritual wickedness” those in high places like politics and high up in the church, that is what Eph 6:12 means.

    • preacher

      Well Brother, there comes a time when you have to nail your colours to the mast – this is the start of it !.
      The true Church was born in adversity & continued to thrive. We don’t seek it, but if it comes, it comes. We must be prepared to stand strong & show true faith & fortitude. The choice is up to each individual, but if the Lord is our example, there is only one choice !. Blessings. P.

    • Russell Brown

      Hi Len, I turned me TV off 3 years ago, they can’t get you when you do that. I am just worried for the time some new EU law forces me to take down my Youtube videos about Revelation 17 etc.

  • pobjoy

    They point out that Europe has two millennia of Christian heritage

    So is freedom of expression part of this heritage, Mr Smith? Or was Theodosius’ promise to ‘inflict’ his will on dissidents the genuine article? I think we deserve an expert legal explanation.

    • Ivan M

      It is nonetheless part of that heritage.

  • Russell Brown

    In 1982 I had a vision at a papal mass of the pope and all the bishops and cardinals becoming the devil and his angels. I was 10 years old at the time. My family were Catholic, my priest one of the worst Catholic pedophile priests ever. (Father Clonan of Christ the king, Coventry), The Catholic church paid out 1 million in damages. He was my priest (but he never got me) as an angel told me to tell my Catholic family that Revelation 17/18 was the Roman Catholic Church and we fled, just in time.

    • Ivan M

      Was this before or after you ate chicken curry?

      • pobjoy

        So was chicken curry responsible for visions that supported those who claimed to be popes and cardinals?

        • Ivan M

          Chicken curry, LSD, purple mushroom anything that works. You may recall one Allegro(?) who claimed that the whole Christian craze was triggered by a poison mushroom cult.

          • pobjoy

            So visions of ‘Mary’ are not to be trusted, either.

            You may recall one Allegro(?) who claimed that the whole Christian craze

            But you seem to be on something yourself. John Allegro claimed that Christianity was a craze triggered by a poison mushroom. Not what you wrote.

            I recall it did not do him a lot of good, too. He should have proceeded Andante.

          • Ivan M

            No visions of any kind are to be trusted unless cleared by the Vatican. Surely you know this.

          • pobjoy

            I suppose you are extracting urine, but you could be serious.

          • Ivan M

            I have this vision that I am in conversation with a sneaky liar. Am I correct? Possibly. But I would still want to know the Vatican’s take on this.

          • pobjoy

            Am I correct?

            If you talk to yourself, perhaps. Let’s see.

            But I would still want to know the Vatican’s take on this.

            I thought you would. You mocked a ten-year-old’s perception of Vatican falsity with brusque lack of courtesy. You then, forced to see your own prejudice, resorted to false allegation of Christianity. Now you want to re-establish the Vatican’s authority, and accuse your correspondent of being a sneaky liar. Perfect, guilty projection, therefore.

            You obviously have a serious problem with accommodating the gospel.

          • Russell Brown

            You mocked a ten-year-old’s perception of Vatican falsity

            >
            This was not my vivid imagination, this was a vision as clear as this screen as I type of Satan appearing on the papal stage and the cardinals and bishops appeared like bats and ravens, in broad daylight, about 100 yards in front of me (I was in the VIP section at the front). His arrival coincided with the papal mass. I was a shy child but dozens of people around me had become aware I was having a vision as I was hiding behind the mans seat in front clutching his arm. My fear was made worse when I realized only I could see this and the pope could not see that Satan was approaching him, as I thought of the pope as on par with Jesus. The vision ended with the pope holding the golden cup of communion in the air, at which point I could no longer see the pope, he had become Satan, a huge frightening black bird. At which pointed I shouted out “oh no its the pope, the pope is Satan” (many heard me). I then fell to the floor but was immediately picked up from the floor by what felt like a hand in my solar plexus area and sat back on my chair, immediately I went from terrified to perfectly fine and a voice began speaking to me, in English, an angel, who told me many things but most significantly to “turn to Jesus with all of my heart and all of my mind”. We spoke in depth about what I had just seen and I was told to show my Catholic grandparents I had seen the following…

            “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.”

            Satan had the appearance of a black bird, at first I thought a raven but I remember his eyes were yellow. Later when I realized Satan was the black imperial bird of the Holy Roman Empire and the Reichsadler.

          • Ivan M

            It appears that you had mocked him to a greater extend by patronising him. If the events were as reported I have no choice but to accept their veracity. Nonetheless I can adduce alternate explanations. You on the other hand are in serious violation of the Second Commandment viz, claiming to speak for God when you are just a bloody arse.

          • Russell Brown

            I remember my grandmother asking Father Clonan about Revelation 17 after telling him about my vision, his reply was that the book of Revelation was a mistake and should not be in the Bible. He then started telling her the Bible was created by the RCC anyway. (If it was not for the book of Revelation our family would not have fled that church and I would probably have been another one of his victims).

          • Ivan M

            If Father Clonan is indeed of that evil inclination, I have to accept that the Angel had indeed saved you. Pray to the Lord Jesus Christ for all of us.

          • Russell Brown

            When I was 10 years old I was pure and close to God and an angel spoke to me as clearly and plainly as is possible, however, that was 35 years ago now. My theory is the reason why angels do not speak to me like that anymore (or most people) is because I am not pure enough and innocent enough anymore. My goal in life is to return to that innocence, that purity, that Eden in which like Adam I could literally have a two way conversation with God (via His angel). It reminds me of this verse.. “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Matt 18:3.

            God loved me as a child and I pray He remembers that was the real me before consumerism and the world left its mark in my right hand and forehead.

            I am not sure my prayers are as powerful as they were in 1982. Perhaps it is the pure of heart, the children that we should be asking to pray for us?

          • Ivan M

            It is certainly the case that those who are pure of heart are close to God. Nonetheless whether one is of pure heart or otherwise has no bearing on facts in the external world. In particular you should not expect to have greater insight into the Apollo programme or 9/11 or similar matters than others who have lived through those times. I cannot encourage you in your erroneous ways.

          • Old Nick

            The TLS review of it was headed “Allegro ma non troppo”.

          • Ivan M

            I had to look up the meaning. Of course I believe that he was playing fast and loose. It was as far out as it could get. But it is fascinating that out of that small area in the Levant came such numerous cults and interpretations.

          • Old Nick

            It is of course a musical term !

    • IanCad

      Russ,
      Your linked video presents historical facts in a manner that is not likely to gain many adherents to your – and mine – theological position. Granted – society is no less credulous than in times past – it has, nevertheless, changed and is not receptive to medieval imagery and over the top sound effects.
      The Word is clear. Christ will come to judge. Most surely times and laws have been changed. The fulfillment of Prophecy is not for us to speculate upon without reference to scripture. I have to say, you do yourself no favours by jumping on the silliest of all conspiracy theories – that of the “Fake” moon landings.
      One false idea leads to others: Black Helicopters, 9/11 Truthers, New World Order, False Flag Terrorism, Chlorination, Chem Trails – the imagination runs riot – and contributes to the contempt the worldly hold for those who cleave to things spiritual.
      We are told we see but darkly, and yet, are promised that one day all will be made clear. That day is not here; we have only The Blessed Hope. That is sufficient for us.

      • Russell Brown

        Ian, turn off your TV, stop listening to government sponsored comedians mocking those who believe in ‘conspiracy theories’. Grasp the fact those who are conspiring against you and against God are the ones who are trying to socially condition you to mock those who believe in “conspiracy theories”, history is full of them. Almost all wars start with a false flag. Almost all, Ian.
        Now I have not said anything about black helicopters or chem trails, but I have said that NASA is a military psyop as part of the progressive agenda (because it is) and I have said laws have recently and been quietly passed to make it legal for the government and government controlled media to hoax terrorist attacks in a ‘psyop’ intended in part to destroy religion (and under the pretext of forcing Islam to reform along liberal lines). Most of those involved in it are either part of the LGBT movement or radical atheists who want to destroy religion and replace it with the worship of the political class as our gods and protectors. Like I say I am, this is not a ‘theory’ I am presenting, I am telling you very clearly. There is an ongoing NATO psyop involving the MSM to force Islam to reform along liberal lines by faking terrorist attacks in their largely phony war on terror. Boston, San Bernadino, Paris and Brussels were clever hoaxes, staged events. Turn off your TV and do some research.

        • Russell Brown

          Boston, San Bernadino, Paris and Brussels were clever hoaxes, staged events. Turn off your TV and do some research.

          >
          I have complained to my MP about it, I have wrote to John Redwood about it and I am being helped by Peter Hitchens who also knows all of this but feels it is almost impossible for him to push this line in the MSM without getting sacked.
          Brussels was ludicrous, an insult to our intelligence, we caught them red handed.,…

          The hoax psyop was headed by Michael Villia (head of EU Public Relations and geostrategy). He is a Catholic, it was organised with the Yale lot, the CIA and used mainly refugees from the Serbian-Hungarian border as crisis actors in the airport, which was under renovation at the time.

        • Russell Brown

          Here is my twitter page if anyone wants more info…
          https://twitter.com/merciajew/

        • IanCad

          Russ,
          I’ve never had a TV and am naturally skeptical of our rulers.
          However, I do know enough about human nature to know that two may keep a secret if one of them is dead. Given that most CP’s require a large number of “insiders” your assertions are preposterous.
          I have to say it Russell; to aver that the four terrorist acts, referred to in your last paragraph, were put up jobs, is barmy.

          • Russell Brown

            They used refugees from the Serbian-Hungarian border as crisis actors in the Brussels airport. Everyone else has had to sign the highest form of non disclosure. Plus no one listens to individuals anyway. I have absolute proof that Brussels was hoaxed but no one in the MSM will touch it. Like I say Ian, put aside your assumptions and look into it.

          • Russell Brown

            I have to say it Russell; to aver that the four terrorist acts, referred to in your last paragraph, were put up jobs, is barmy.

            >
            You carry on thinking like that and the MSM and government will carry on legally deceiving you as part of their phony ‘war on terror’ (which is really all about destroying socially conservative Christian values). There has been practically no Islamic terrorism in the West post 911, its all been manufactured. The Hegel Dialectic.

          • IanCad

            Russ,
            I’m sorry, but conspiracy speculation and false witness run hand in hand

          • Russell Brown

            Its evidence based proof. Click the links I provided. Drop the MSM socially conditioned narrative about ‘conspiracies’ and then get back to me next week after you have done your research. Or carry on being deceived.

          • IanCad

            Russ,
            I’ve stated my case, as you have yours.
            I’ll let it go at that.

      • Russell Brown

        Ian, people would do well to understand that most of the Muslim community already believe this while most of us believe the government line.
        I used to debate in stern words the head of the Muslim Council of Britain. Yet I have recently had to write to him to apologise for the appalling behaviour of EU governments in hoaxing both the Paris and Brussels bombings, which I described as “a rather nasty psyop” against the Muslim community and I have told him, as a born again Christian I will be defending them from this.

    • turriseburnea

      When did the little green men arrive? And the pink elephants?
      Take your pills.

  • Article XXXVII of the Church of England.
    The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.’./I>
    So we can treat the advice of his minions with the complete indifference that it deserves.

    • Russell Brown

      Yes the Westminster confession will soon be illegal, (if its not already), despite the Holy Spirit revealing to me the part about the pope is true.

  • chrisH

    Great article.
    Indeed it was the Buttiglioni case in 2004 that first alerted me to the decidedly anti-Christian mindset that had engulfed the EU.
    In 2005, Ratzinger put it brilliantly as he got the Papal nomination-he warned of the Godless, soulless and even demonic nature of the EU-with the Church getting sidelined in the thanatos culture his predecessor had aptly described.
    Since then, it`s all got a lot worse-of course the Catholic notions of social teaching, solidarity and the like are nodded to-but don`t mean a thing.
    All the EU has done is co-opted a few weasel words and shanghai`d them.
    The desperate clueless and venal church NOW-under the already-catastrophic Francis-is a disaster. It could and should have been our bulwark against the tide of islam…but is now the doormat to the EU.
    Francis died as any spiritual force when he upbraided Trump for his plans to “put up walls”-he said that Jesus was more about “building bridges”.
    Sorry Frankie-the word “bridge does not occur ONCE in my Bible, whereas walls certainly do.
    Still-Trump loves the poorly educated…and Francis has to be that to look such a fool as Trump makes him.