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The Pope

He has gone. As I said a few days ago, Pope John Paul II was one of the great figures of our age. However controversial a figure he may have been for his views on issues like abortion, birth control and capitalism, the late Pope was, in my eyes, a hero for playing a part in giving people in Eastern Europe the confidence to bring the Soviet Empire down.

In the days and weeks to come, people far more qualified than me will want to draw out the implications of the life of a very great Pole. At this point, all this lapsed Christian-can can say, is, “Thank You.”

69 comments to The Pope

  • I'm suffering for my art

    I agree insofar that *if* some people persuaded enough bishops that a Polish pope would be useful to bring about the downfall of the Soviet Union. If that was why he was selected, then these people deserve enormous credit for their farsightedness. As for the Pope himself, I think he played his role to a tee. He was the right man for the time. However I think he may be over-eulogised.

  • mike

    ” all this lapsed Christian-can can say, is, “Thank You.”

    Amen.

  • James

    As I’ve said in the last thread on this topic, I see no reason why he should be admired to the extent he is. I’m wondering who the next world figure to die will be that we’ll start claiming “was instrumental in bringing down Communism”. At least there were solid grounds for eulogising Reagan in that role.

    I think the bigger issue now is what do we get in his place; a more liberal Pontiff or a more conservative one. And what the effects of that will be.

    In the meantime, at least he’s been relieved of his suffering.

  • It’s nice to see somebody in Europe opposed to Communists. But I was hoping someone could explain the strategy of sucking up to every Islamo-Fascist on the planet. His selective indignation remains a puzzle to me.

    It seems that he did as much as possible to embrace Catholic homosexuals. Particularly the pedophiles in company. Here in New England, we were not amused.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    James, HelenW, rest assured, as I am a “born-again atheist” there is not much chance I am going to sing the man’s praises over-much. There is something to said for giving credit where I think it is due when a man as significant as the Pope dies. Like I said, there is plenty to be critical of in his record.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    It would be interesting to see which death caused more printer’s ink to be used (at least in the States) – Terri Schiavo’s or the Pope’s.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I’m Suffering, that is a good question. The Pope is lucky that he was able to go without such a dreadful circus of legal and political commotion.

  • James, it was pretty well documented a few years ago in a Time Magazine feature, that the Pope and Reagan met early in Reagan’s term, and agreed to conspire to bring down the Com Bloc. Reagan laid out his notion of outspending the Sovs and outcompeting them in every military arena around the world, and the Pope agreed to use his bully pulpit (and to quietly use priests and willing members of the Catholic laity behind the Iron Curtain) to subvert the Warsaw Pact from within. If Time magazine was willing to admit this much about two individuals generally despised by its staff, then it is probably true, and deserving of additional credence as what attorneys refer to as “a statement against interest.”

  • Verity

    Helen W – As for “sucking up to every Islamo-Fascist on the planet”, he was a Saturday night amateur compared to Tony Blair, whose servility before terrorists of all descriptions was something of a joke among the IRA.

  • Jacob

    I imagine that JPII hated communism strongly and profoundly, like anyone who ever lived under a communist regime. He probably had a much better understanding of communism than most of the Western leaders or intellectuals. This understanding motivated him to act more vigorously against communism than previous Popes, who “only” had religious grounds to oppose communism, but no first hand experience.
    But I don’t see how his anti-communist activity played a crucial role in bringing down communism.

  • Verity

    And now the electorate of Britain, still hanging onto the shreds of their democratic tradition, are having their national election postponed because the head of Cher’s religion has died? How Third World is that? Could Ferdinand Marcos have done it any better?

  • mike

    Actually Verity, I’d heard it was merely the announcement of the date of the next general election that Blair has postponed (until Tuesday?), rather than the date of the election itself.

  • James

    James, it was pretty well documented a few years ago in a Time Magazine feature, that the Pope and Reagan met early in Reagan’s term, and agreed to conspire to bring down the Com Bloc. Reagan laid out his notion of outspending the Sovs and outcompeting them in every military arena around the world, and the Pope agreed to use his bully pulpit (and to quietly use priests and willing members of the Catholic laity behind the Iron Curtain) to subvert the Warsaw Pact from within. If Time magazine was willing to admit this much about two individuals generally despised by its staff, then it is probably true, and deserving of additional credence as what attorneys refer to as “a statement against interest.”

    Point taken. But perhaps the question “How many divisions has he?” is the wrong one. Questions closer to “How many casualties has he suffered?” or “How big is his wallet?” might be more appropriate. His “efforts” within the USSR notwithstanding, I think it’s clear which side among the two paid the biggest price to bring the Commies down.

    As for Time magazine, in public at least, even many of the lefties love the Pope.

  • Verity

    Mike, that’s not what I read, but as I didn’t make a note of the source, I can’t dispute you. However, postponing the announcement is just as bad. I cannot mourn the Pope’s passing because he has presumably gone to where he wished to go, but I respect the people who are mourning him.

    However, however respected this Pope was, his death should not be a consideration in the announcement of the date of the British election. This is more Tony Tranzi and people should be alert to it.

  • HelenW.

    The pope embraced gays?

    Well he didn’t burn them at the stake, but he did condemn homosexuality in no uncertain terms.

    What are you talking about?

  • “But I don’t see how his anti-communist activity played a crucial role in bringing down communism.”

    Tell me, are you actually serious?

    I also think that the comparison of the extent in which the Pope and Reagan helped bring down communism is incomparable, but it’s the latter that is being over-eulogised!

    “even many of the lefties love the Pope.“

    Really now? I am sure he deserved their love for his stances in issues of morality, traditional family or for this, for example, an excerpt from his encyclical Centisimus Annus (1991):

    Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is thus reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decision disappears, the very subject whose decisions build the social order. From this mistaken conception of the person there arise both a distortion of law, which defines the sphere of the exercise of freedom, and an opposition to private property. A person who is deprived of something he can call “his own”, and of the possibility of earning a living through his own initiative, comes to depend on the social machine and on those who control it. This makes it much more difficult for him to recognize his dignity as a person, and hinders progress towards the building up of an authentic human community.

    Or this:

    Not only is it wrong from the ethical point of view to disregard human nature, which is made for freedom, but in practice it is impossible to do so. Where society is so organized as to reduce arbitrarily or even suppress the sphere in which freedom is legitimately exercised, the result is that the life of society becomes progressively disorganized and goes into decline.

    Yes, that must have made him really popular in certain leftist quarters.

  • Jacob

    “Tell me, are you actually serious? ”

    Yes.
    Communism was brought down not by revolt from below, from the masses. Communism was acutely hated by the masses, by everybody living under it, but it was maintaned dozens of years by sheer terror, repression and murder. It could have been maintaned, by the same methods much longer.
    Communism fell when the rulers (meaning Gorbachov) got tired and weak and demoralized and thought (erroneously) they could somehow reform communism without destroying it. When they renounced the rule of terror they sealed their fate, but it wasn’t the irrepresible revolt of the people that caused them to change course. The change came from above.
    Look at the communist party in China – holding on to it’s power.
    Many people, including other Popes, have spoken out against communism without bringing it down.

  • Guido writes: Well he didn’t burn them at the stake, but he did condemn homosexuality in no uncertain terms.

    Hello Guido. That was about half what I wanted to express. It may seem like a triviality to most, but I can assure you that Gays were mostly grateful for the distinction.

    It is my understanding that JP II accepted homosexual people as God’s work, and condemned homosexual behavior as a sin. That approach seems practical and respectful and consistent to me. Previously, Homosexuals were routinely dehumanized and vilified for their very existence. So I see his break with that illiberality as remarkable.

    He welcomed Homosexuals into his church and reached out to those who suffer with AIDS. In these respects, his unflinching love of humanity is enviable.

    OTOH, he did Gays no favor by attempting to aid and comfort pedophiliac priests. I don’t connection pedophilia and homosexuality, but JP II gave Phobes a way to project guilt by association.

    Altogether, I would rather fault him for his jihad blinkers. His vocal opposition to concluding the 1990 war with Saddam was blindingly stupid. We don’t have to extrapolate into the future to appreciate the countless deaths and human suffering that were saved by an invasion of Iraq.

  • mike

    Verity: how is delaying the announcement of the date of the general election just as bad as delaying the the actual date per se?? However, I agree that the death of the Pope doesn’t warrant such a delay.

    There was a decent article in the Sunday Times this afternoon (so I won’t link) by Andrew Neil to the effect that politicians spend their time in the media arguing about things they are used to (imaginary levels of public spending etc) but which people are not actually too bothered about, rather than talking about the things the general public are interested in but which they are not bothered about. Same thing here – Blair is just on automatic pilot (and so would any of the current crop of big politicians were they PM).

    I’m sure the archive of Brian’s articles here (or the archive category of blogging and bloggers) will contain something which has said all this before, only better.

  • Verity

    Mike, Blair isn’t on automatic pilot. He is very frightened of this election and he’s grabbed the lifeline of tranzi twaddle. The Pope’s death, in a tranzi world, must impact on all Britons, whether RC or not because Blair’s a one-worlder. I find it highly offensive that he would allow the death of any foreign person to interfere with the domestic announcement of the election date to the citizens of Britain. If one in five Brits thinks the announcement of the date of their critical General Election should be delayed because a foreigner has died, I would be astounded.

    None of this is intended to be disrespectful to the late Pope. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide mourn his passing. Hundreds of millions don’t. It is sheer impertinence to try to bolt this on to the domestic British election process and get some mileage out of it.

  • mike

    Well as I’ve said, I don’t think the death of the Pope should interfere with the PM’s announcement of the general election date. But I fail to see how Blair is getting any mileage out of it… he’s just being his usual tranzi self so far as I can see, but he’ll still have to fight the election on the same date.

    Or maybe Blair has delayed because he is suddenly considering himself in a newly vacant high office from which to do his ‘vision-thing’…. ha!

  • jon

    I always wonder why the true heroes of the decline of Communism are always overlooked. Let us remember the brave Hungarian border guards who, although they would be imprisoned or worse if they wouldn’t oppress their own people, decided to not oppress their East German neighbors. So they let them travel into Austria.

    Those guys didn’t tear down the Berlin Wall, but they made it irrelevant. As I see it, some guys with machine guns not doing their jobs very well brought down communism in Europe. I hope history will get their stories down someday, since I want to read them.

  • Findlay Dunachie

    Pope John Paul II was the sort of Pope that atheists like – popular but ineffective. Did the huge crowds that came to his celebrity appearances signal any large number of conversions, or a resurgence of Chritian beliefs?

    During his pontificate, the Republic of Ireland went secular and Spain and Italy could be said to have done the same. After the fall of Communism, church-going in Poland slumped, showing that it had largely been an anti-Communist gesture. Indeed church-going in the “West” continued to decline.

    Two causes dear to the Pope’s heart, which he never showed any signs of abandoning, opposition to birth control and abortion, were ignored by the “faithful”.

    These causes have been dismissed with a shrug by his irreligious admirers as a sort of weird aberration, yet, whether he foresaw their results or not, they are bringing about (perhaps the first more than the second) the slow extinction, a sort of social suicide, of Western, post-Christian civilization, as the population that lives by its values fails to replace itself.

  • Pete_London

    Blair can’t call the election because he’s giving us his simpering, Diana-era, I feel your pain act over the Pope. Opportunity knocks and he can’t take the stage quick enough. Sweep everything aside, Blair needs room for those lips to quiver!. Holding the Wicked Witch’s hand in Westminster Cathedral will round it off nicely.

    Expect to hear he was the People’s Pope anytime now.

    As soon as the situation allows he’ll forget about the Catholic vote, pout his statesman’s pout in front of the mirror then sweep into Buckingham Palace to see the Queen and call the election.

  • Joel Català

    [Jacob] “Communism was brought down not by revolt from below, from the masses. [...]
    Communism fell when the rulers (meaning Gorbachov) got tired and weak and demoralized and thought (erroneously) they could somehow reform communism without destroying it. The change came from above.
    Look at the communist party in China – holding on to it’s power.”

    I think Jacob is right. An additional couple examples: Cuba and North Korea. Reforms in Cuba will probably be brought by the dissidents, plus the CANF and some demoralized castrist insiders. I see North Korea as a bigger problem, mainly due to the support they receive from China plus their possession of nukes.

    However, I see some problem in his view since all revolts begin from some sort of “above”.

  • Jacob

    “As I see it, some guys with machine guns not doing their jobs very well brought down communism in Europe.”

    As I remember, it was the Baltic States that first demanded, then proclaimed independence, and Gorbachov hesistated in sending his tanks in to oppress them. That was predictable, after 6-7 years of “glasnost” and “perestroika”.
    Those “guys with machine guns” weren’t the ones who ignited the anti communist revolution.

  • Verity

    Pete_London – Yes, Blair will be off chewing up the scenery in Vatican City, doubtless costumed as a cardinal. I am still amazed that he didn’t visit the troops in full Lawrence of Arabia regalia and an entire tube of Man Tan, but put it down to the steadying hand of Alastair Campbell. Remember, Campbell had to yank the floor length black astrakhan coat Blair had made to visit Putin in Moscow out of his luggage … Doubtless Cher will be paying a little more respect than she did at the funeral of the Queen Mother and eschewing the deep decolletage.

    I still don’t see what the death of a foreign dignatory has to do with the British electoral process.

  • ben gun

    Well he may have stood up to socialism – a competing religion – but he did much to encourage and spread death and suffering through his ‘conservative’ catholicism that talks of sexual abstinence, forbids the life saver of condoms…

    Such lunacy does not help social progress. Now to see whether the next pope has the courage to escape the killing dogmas.

  • Johnathan

    Verity, the image of Blair in religious costume is not good for my digestion or nervous system. Aaarrgggghh.

    Blair is expected to name the election tomorrow. A day’s delay out of respect for a great Christian leader leader like Pope John Paul hardly ranks as Britain bending the knee to a foreign power. I thought Henry VIII, the guy who had some marital difficulties a while back, fixed that particular problem.

    Had Phoney called an election today he’d have been hammered in the press and elsewhere.

  • mike

    “he did much to encourage and spread death and suffering through his ‘conservative’ catholicism that talks of sexual abstinence, forbids the life saver of condoms…

    Yeah well people didn’t have to listen to him did they? And as Findlay Dunachie points out, fewer and fewer people did listen to him. The Pope was a hard-liner, no doubt about it.

    But that’s in the nature of moral choices – if you truly believe that contraception is a sin against the sanctity of life, and you believe you should act on the strength of your moral convictions then you should not consider the use of condoms. The thing people don’t like about the Pope’s controversial views is not that they were ‘unreasonable’ (they are perfectly rational to my mind), but that they were hard. But moral responsibility is hard.

    That the Pope never caved in to competing ‘moderate’ voices in the Church is what I admire.

  • Verity

    Britain isn’t a Catholic country. Certainly, we all respect the emotions of the small percentage of Brits who are Roman Catholics, and extend our condolences, but day after day, wall to wall Blairesque coverage? “Millions mourn”, headlines with the word “crowds” – what is the point? This death was seen to be imminent weeks ago, it’s happened, it’s been covered, it’s not relevant to the lives of the vast majority of Britons. Why is it receiving such blanket coverage? Why is the British media so subservient to to the New Labour programme of diluting the British identity? I ask this in all seriousness. The BBC, sure. No one expects them to be honest. But The Telegraph? The Times? Day after day after day of non-news? Ask yourself why.

    I haven’t been following the French news, but I’m guessing this item has been demoted by now. Maybe Tuscan Tony can tell us whether it’s been relegated to page 2 in Italy yet.

    My god, three more days of reading “millions mourn”, “millions line the route”, “millions descend on Rome” … Then they’ll try to force the news of the selection of a new one onto us.

    No offence, but the Pope was a man of god. He’s now been gathered to god. What’s to mourn?

  • Johnathan

    Verity, you are being melodromatic and I certainly don’t find that here in Britain the coverage of the Pope has been sentimental or excessive. There has been a lot of coverage in the press and tv here, although the elections are now pushing some of that off the front pages. There is no parallel to the mass insanity over Diana. Quite the reverse.

    A man who led a church followed by more than 1.0 billion souls for 27 years dies – that merits serious coverage. He was a towering figure, like Reagan or our own blessed Maggie. Given that moral issues have risen to the fore in recent weeks — like the Schiavo case — the Pope’s demise has gotten people thinking hard about such things. Good.

    Sometimes Verity your sheer hatred of Blair and all his works (which I share) leads to imagine that everything revolves around him. It doesn’t and hopefully in four weeks’ time, the creep will be seriously cut down to size.

    By the way, Verity, are you still able to vote here?

  • Verity

    Jonathan, Be fair. I didn’t say the coverage parallelled the Diana lunacy – which was largely led by a self-engaged thespian prime minister and a hysterical public – not the media. I am saying I think the media hammering on is excessive. What is there new to say? The Pope has died. Millions of people are sad. Lots of people are going to Italy. It doesn’t have to be repeated in The Times, The Telegraph and the BBC 24 hours a day. That’s all.

    With respect, I think ordinary people would have been exercised about the Schiavo case whether the Pope was alive or not.

    Yes, I’m British and I am eligible to vote in British elections.

    I am not implying that Blair is directing this blanket coverage of the death of the Pope. I am saying he has created the multi-culti regime wherein the death of a pope gets so much sentimental attention in a country not historically fixated on Roman Catholicism. Disclaimer: I harbour no negative feelings against Roman Catholics, priests or popes.

  • mike

    “Ask yourself why.

    Alright Verity having asked myself why, I conclude that the papers are writing about this because they think that will help them sell more copies than would writing about anything else. I mean I bought the Times last saturday for their thing about the Pope but that’s it, I didn’t buy it on sunday or yesterday. God knows why people want to keep reading about the Pope – maybe they aren’t continuously reading about him, maybe the people who bought a paper on sunday simply never got around to buying one on the saturday. Christ, give it a rest for god’s sake!

  • Johnathan

    “the media hammering on is excessive”. I’d dispute that, Verity. The top 10 news items on my Reuters website right now are led by the Pope, the election, the MG Rover-China joint venture talks, record oil prices, the Michael Jackson case (now that is a bore), etc.

    The practising population of Roman Catholics in Britain is now on a par with, or even bigger, than practising Anglicans, according to a story I read in the Telegraph about a year ago.

    Blair has added to the bs about multi-culturalism, fair point, but I see nothing remotely sinister about the amount of interest in what happens in the Vatican right now, nor do I mind him going to the Vatican to the funeral, any more than I would mind if a Jewish PM went to the funeral of the Chief Rabbi.

    I certainly don’t see any anti-Popery from you, Verity. As for me, I am a lapsed Christian anyway, so I guess I am headed for Hell.

  • Verity

    ” …any more than I would mind if a Jewish PM went to the funeral of the Chief Rabbi.” Genuine question: Is there a Chief Rabbi of the world? As in the Archbish of Canterbury and the Pope?

  • GCooper

    Johnathan writes:

    “”the media hammering on is excessive”. I’d dispute that, Verity”

    I’d refrained from commenting on this sudden media fascination, assuming that it was just my innate distaste for organised religion that made me, too, feel the coverage being afforded the late Pope was wholly disproportionate and quite out of character for the British media.

    But no less a pundit than Gillian Reynolds, in today’s Telegraph, inveighs against the amount of BBC’s R4 concentration. Indeed, she uses the word “torrent”, which isn’t like her, at all.

    Mind you, coming from a Telegraph writer, this is a bit rich. The past few days have seen not so much a torrent as a landslide of mawkish sentimentality in the paper – and yes, there is something of the queasy Dianafest about it.

    This isn’t the traditional reaction of the British media to the death of a Pope and even if one accepts that he was a memorable one, this seems entirely beyond the amount of reporting and commentary we are used to when Pontiffs die – and I’m old enough to remember some of it.

    As for the number of RCs versus the number of Anglicans, I can’t see this as much of a justification. All it shows is how much the C of E is in decline – not that we are in the middle of some period during which people are converting to Catholicism. If we are playing a numbers game, what will happen when the spiritual leaders of the Sunnis and Shias die?

  • Verity

    May I add the unlikely voice of The Grauniad in the person of Martin Kettle, who says, “The Pope’s death exposes the erosion of confidence in our institutions” and, “It’s as if the Reformation never happened.”

    Who is it who has so carefully unpicked the fabric of confidence in our institutions? Just asking.

    British royalty and heads of government do not traditionally attend papal funerals, but there’s Phony & Cher powering through for the best seats … and Prince Charles … Why?

    Here’s the whole depressing thread and I’m sorry I don’t know how to do links on Firefox, but it’s an interesting read: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1452198,00.html

  • GCooper

    Verity writes:

    “British royalty and heads of government do not traditionally attend papal funerals, but there’s Phony & Cher powering through for the best seats..”

    Did the online Vaticanograph carry the shot of Cherie in the black lace mantilla?

    Now there was an image with which to frighten small children!

    How obliging of the Pope to provide such a photo opportunity at such an important time in the life of the Osbournes.. I’m sorry, I think I meant to type “Bliars”.

  • Johnathan

    “How obliging of the Pope to provide such a photo opportunity at such an opportune time for the Osbornes”.

    Crikey, you really are paranoid (snigger)

  • GCooper

    It gets worse!

    The BBC now has a webcam trained on the deceased Pope, lying in state.

    Do they exect him to move, or something?

  • Verity

    “Do they expect him to move or something?” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! They’re showing respect!

    But good point. Why is the licence payers’ money being wasted training a camera on a dead body in Italy? This individual had no relevance to the laws or body politic of Britain.

    Why all the fuss? Especially as, in the sinister way of Britain under the power crazed, vindictive Blair regime, the population has evinced no hunger for it and it is being directed from above. Columnist after columnist and letter writer after letter writer has said, in effect, “how bizarre” – even The Guardian – so why is it happening?

    To RCs reading this, this post is not intended to be hurtful to you or disrespectful in any way to your deeply held beliefs. We are commenting on externals, not faith.

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    Jakob:

    I don’t know whether Gorbachev hesitated, but he did indeed send in the tanks to oppress the Lithuanians in January 1991, not long after winning the Nobel Surrender (er, “Peace”) Prize.

  • Johnathan

    “Why all the fuss?”, asks Verity.

    sigh

  • Tuscan Tony

    Verity, re your 5th April 4.06pm comment:-

    In fact I sent an emil out to my English mates just now re the most bizarre (well, bizarre to an anglo saxon anyway) text message I (and presumably all holders of Itlaian SIM cards) got from the Italian Home Office (equivalent) today warning me in no uncertain terms that any thoughts I might be having of hitting Rome Friday would make for a fraught trip filled with “hot days and cold nights” through which I should expect be queueing. Love the use of SMS for some things, but the pope’s funeral arrangements?!?

    Re the news coverage, I only read English papers, sites and blogs, so can’t help you there.

  • Pete_London

    Verity

    Agreed. I’m a conservative, right-wing (lapsed-ish) Catholic yet agree that a respectful but distant recognition of the Pope’s death would have been appropriate for Protestant Britain. I can only assume that our society has become so celebrity obsessed that the death of anyone famous is now a signal for mass national grieving. He’s famous, grieve you swine!

    The oddest aspect to me of all this coverage from the MSM is that they flood our living rooms and papers with images of just what an impact the Pope had on so many and demonstrate what a depth of feeling he evinced, yet he was completely and vehemently opposed to abortion, contraception and homosexuality. A liberal Holy Trinity if ever there was one. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear the BBC come out with:

    ” … and in other news, old religious bigot snuffs it in Rome.”

  • Tuscan Tony

    ..oh, and I was reminded duiring my visit back to England last weekend of the headline in The Sun (always worth a read!) in 1979, after the death of the second pope elected that year – “Pope Dies Again”

  • Verity

    Blair is intent on destroying Britishness. He said several long, long years ago that he was going to destroy Britain’s conservtive instincts. But Britain is a deeply conservative country, which is what has served it so well for centuries. He is a force for malevolence.

    Pete_London, yes, all this facile emotion in libertine Britain for a man who would have disapproved of just about everything in modern life. Although to be fair, it is not the Brits, it’s the media. For the last Pope, I think his death was announced, and RCs went to mass and prayed for his soul and that was about the size of it. It was acknowledged with respect, I think there were some shots of the funeral on TV, and then the papers and TV screens were filled up with something else.

    They’re trying to run the Pope’s death as though it were as important to Britain as the Queen Mother’s death, and that is the point of all this.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Verity, and others, with respect, I don’t see Blair’s going to the funeral or most of the media coverage as destroying Britishness. Bush is also going to the Pope’s funeral, for example, and yet I trust that Jefferson’s Republic is secure. Bush would be amazed if people started accusing him of undermining America because of it.

    Blair has done a lot to destroy Britishness, more out of his sneaky EU policies, his trashy “cool Britannia” bullshit, his gutting of the House of Lords, dumbing down of our education system, attack on the Common Law, the ban on foxhunting, …the list is endless. (I have ranted about much of this on this blog the last two years or more). But attending the Pope’s funeral? Come off it.

    I would normally share your sentiments on all this but I find all the reactions to the coverage of the Pope etc. to be rather histrionic. And I am an atheist, remember!

  • GCooper

    Verity writes:

    “They’re trying to run the Pope’s death as though it were as important to Britain as the Queen Mother’s death…”

    Interestingly, a comparison I made on the ‘phone to an American, this very morning.

    I’ve nothing but feeling to go on, but my strong impression is that this event has already received considerably more coverage than the death of the Queen Mother. And for all Johnathan’s histrionic sighing, there is genuine and widespread puzzlement at this. Even that arch liberal, Andrew Marr touched on it today – and in so doing, put his finger on what is perhaps really behind this.

    Recent years have seen the growing influence of Roman Catholics in UK public life. A couple of years ago (assuming one counts Bliar as a closet RC) the leader of all three main UK parties were Catholics. A Catholic was the editor of the Daily Telegraph (and still seems to be very influential there), there are many prominent RCs at the top of New Labour and the new head of the BBC is another.

    Does this matter? It might. Harking back to the thread about Michael Howard, I mentioned that Adrian Hilton was ditched, simply because he dared voice concerns in the Spectator about the undue influence of the Catholic Church within the EU (and, presumably, by implication within the UK) which was sufficient to have his political career snuffed out.

    Not a Popish Plot, so no reason for the return of the Test Act, but possibly something to watch and consider, all the same.

  • GCooper

    Johnathan writes:

    “rather histrionic…”

    Carl Jung, where are you now that we need you?

    I used the very same word about your “” response to Verity’s post.

    Put it down to synchronicity.

  • Verity

    Dear Jonathan, here we go clashing swords again! But not really!

    I don’t care that Blair’s going to the Pope funeral. I would expect it of him. There has never been a funeral he didn’t want to be part of; and there has never been a photo op anywhere in the world that he wouldn’t drop everything and fly out to (except, mysteriously, the tsunami; his absence still exercises me). I think it’s OTT, and I think President Bush going is also OTT.

    But the man who will be the head of the Church of England postponing his marriage for a dead Pope? That, to my mind, is bizarre and I am will to bet a few pesos that it was on strongly worded advice from Downing St. Our royalty has never attended Popes’ funerals – never mind cancelled their wedding service! Blair has bullied the royal family into this. Now they’ve had to put off the Grand National for several hours because of the postponement of the marriage. For a dead religious leader, whose predecessors’ deaths have been accorded respect, but not a lot of attention because they’re not relevant.

    This all emanates from Tony B Liar’s office and is intended to add a universal European aspect to every minute aspect of British public consciousness. And to elevate the Pope’s funeral, in British consciousness, to the level of the Queen Mother’s funeral. The Liar hates British royalty. Actually, he hates everything to do with Britain.

  • Verity

    Charles, for whom I have no sympathy, so I’m not talking as a supporter, has waited 30 years to marry this woman. His heart is on his sleeve. He doesn’t give a stuff about the Pope. He would not have postponed his marriage to the love of his life by one more day without some savage bullying.

    Oh, will Blair and the fat slapper be sharing the Queen’s Flight with Charles and Camilla, or will Charles be flying commercial?

    I’m glad I won’t be in Britain on Friday, because TV’s going to be wall to wall funeral of a man the vast majority of British citizens have zero interest in. Better hit your local Blockbuster’s early before they sell out of entertainment.

    Hey! Maybe Blair could pop in on the funeral of Prince Rainier on the way back! I’ll bet they need someone to give the English version of the eulogy. Woohoooo!

  • To those who wonder what the fuss is about the dead pope: It’s to do with a personality cult, a zombie cult if you like. Someone tell me–does not the body in its red and white raiment look like that of Santa Claus? Someone get ahold of Nietzsche, quick–Santa is dead.

    I’m an atheist and I revile JPII’s efforts at imposing his moral philosophy on people who do not subscribe to it. Yes, the Catholic Church has its standards, and yes adhering to them is admirable if quixotic. Quixotic because I’m not all that much of a weirdo, and I have gone without medical insurance rather than pay into a Catholic health insurance program. I go out of my way to tell Catholic hospitals and their affiliated doctors why I won’t patronize them. I just realized I need to carry a card instructing people NOT to take me to a Catholic hospital should I ever be so far gone as to be unable to say that. Yet I remember being moved to tears at the waves of Soviet- and god-bothered Poles kneeling to adore the host JPII raised at an outdoor mass in his native land many years ago.

    Much fuss is being made of his death here in the U.S., no less by people who normally are on the liberal end of the spectrum. (Wags have begun referring to NPR as “National Pope-death Radio.”) So I don’t think the British fixation on this death is about refitting HMS Brittania in accordance with a Euro-ideal. It’s just the media cashing in on popular hysteria over the death of a personality cult figure.

    Oh, and as to why the BBC has a webcam trained on the body–maybe they’re hoping to catch the great forgiveness, the Great Rapprochement, among JPII, Mao and Stalin.

  • Johnathan

    GCooper writes, “Not a Popish Plot, but something to watch and consider, all the same,” writes GCooper.

    I don’t like the way this sentiment is going. The old “divided loyalty” innuendo that has been hurled at Jews is getting chucked at RCs. Leave it out.

    Verity, Prince Charles is a prize doofus, but I don’t think he changed his marriage date after listening to Phoney. I think Chuck has shown a long history of interest in different religions like Islam, etc, so his behaviour was probably self-directed. This is a guy who talks to plants, remember.

  • GCooper

    Johnathan writes:

    “I don’t like the way this sentiment is going. The old “divided loyalty” innuendo that has been hurled at Jews is getting chucked at RCs. Leave it out.”

    It has nothing to do with a “divided loyalty” argument but your reflexive suggestion that it has precisely illustrates what was unfair about the Adrian Hilton case – not least the accusation that it was John Gummer who spiked his guns. A point taken up, incidentally, in Mr. Hilton’s favour, by the prominent Catholic journalist, Charles Moore.

    Are there any other subjects you think unfit for discussion, yet which seem to be acceptable to the Daily Telegraph?

  • Johnathan

    GCooper, I am not trying to censor you and if you want to make whatever points you want, go ahead. You asked the question whether the role of RCs in public life mattered and answered your own rhetorical question by saying that it might. Might matter in what way, exactly?

  • GCooper

    Johnathan writes:

    “Might matter in what way, exactly?”

    Doesn’t it seem possible that a (more or less) RC Prime Minister with a devout and highly influential RC wife might have some political influence on issues like stem cell research, euthanasia and abortion? Or that similar debates could be swayed by other people prominent in public life?

    This isn’t race we’re talking about here, but a chosen set of beliefs which are probably at variance with those of the majority. So, yes, it matters and I believe it is worth noting.

    As did Adrian Hilton – which is why he was removed from the Conservative list.

  • Johnathan

    GCooper, if Blair’s views on things like abortion, for example, are at variance with the great majority of people (a contestable assumption, but I will leave that aside), then his views won’t become law, so in a democracy there is nothing to fear, I should have thought. In any event, there are also probably more avowed gays, atheists and agnostics in public life than say, 20 years ago. What has changed has been the demise of the old Anglican establishment and is strongholds in politics, academia, etc.

    I suspect that a lot of English nationalists fear the supposed growing influence of Catholics and how this might influence the European Union issue. It is sometimes argued that RCs are more predisposed to supporting a EU superstate than other religious groups, a view no doubt borne from looking at the role of great Catholic politicians like Schuman, Monnet, Adenauer, and De Gaulle. Not to mention the dreadful Chris Patten.

    I’d like to know whether as a group, catholics really are more pro-EU than anyone else.

  • Johnathan

    GCooper, if Blair’s views on things like abortion, for example, are at variance with the great majority of people (a contestable assumption, but I will leave that aside), then his views won’t become law, so in a democracy there is nothing to fear, I should have thought. In any event, there are also probably more avowed gays, atheists and agnostics in public life than say, 20 years ago. What has changed has been the demise of the old Anglican establishment and is strongholds in politics, academia, etc.

    I suspect that a lot of English nationalists fear the supposed growing influence of Catholics and how this might influence the European Union issue. It is sometimes argued that RCs are more predisposed to supporting a EU superstate than other religious groups, a view no doubt borne from looking at the role of great Catholic politicians like Schuman, Monnet, Adenauer, and De Gaulle. Not to mention the dreadful Chris Patten.

    I’d like to know whether as a group, catholics really are more pro-EU than anyone else.

  • Verity

    Jonathan, G Cooper made a fair point. People with a deep rooted mindset are going to think in a certain way – not because they’re scheming but because they live in the edifice of their own set of beliefs. I don’t think it’s sinister that several people prominent in public life just now are Roman Catholic. I don’t care as long as they don’t try to foist their notions on me – and there’s the rub. Some of them feel morally obliged to do so.

    I don’t think the Blairs are driven by any particular morality. They are driven by power and snippy, destructive disapproval of everything that is British, including our history and our former education system. That they are a pair of opportunistic lowlifes – who else but parvenus would commandeer the Queen’s Flight? – and this shouldn’t be confused with their being RC. They are both Marxo-Gramscians first with a rage to control and shape a country of 60m people in their foul image. So is all the flotsam and jetsom that swills around them – Jack Straw, Margaret Beckham, Margaret Hodge, Tessa Jowell, Patricia something and the other faceless ones.

    The point has not been addressed that a perverted amount of coverage has been given to the death of a foreign religious leader with a small, discrete following in Britain. The intention is to brainwash the British into believing this man was important to their lives, which, except in the case of RCs, he wasn’t.

    Before this blanket coverage, if you had asked me the name of the Pope, I would have said, “Oh, Peter or Paul or something”. They don’t impinge on the lives of non-RCs.

    None, I don’t agree with you. The media in Britain is not “cashing in” because – again, saving RCs – there’s no interest in it. The BBC is state owned and this is all part of its multiculti agenda. This tsunami of media coverage crashing about our shores is not normal. Telegraph columnist Vicki Woods commented on it in her column, Martin Kettle of The Guardian of all things, commented on the abnormality of this, too as have several other columnists whose names I don’t remember offhand. Actually, after Vicki Woods’ column appeared (and I’m guessing she was flooded with grateful emails), The Telegraph cut way back. As of last night, the BBC was still headlining a four/five day old story. Pope dead. Pope carried around on a funeral bier. Pope on display. Crowds mourn Pope. Millions descend on Rome. Dear god (so to speak), how long can they spin a non-story? There’s an election on!

    Or … or … kind of handy for deflecting attention from the failing, flailing of institutionally corrupt NuLabour, isn’t it? Childhood illiteracy and innumeracy, diseases rampant in government run hospitals, third world public services, voting fraud “that would disgrace a banana republic” and so on …. Bit of serendipity there, really…

  • Verity

    Says Jonathan, gamely trying to fight his corner without hurting anyone: “GCooper, if Blair’s views on things like abortion, for example, are at variance with the great majority of people (a contestable assumption, but I will leave that aside), then his views won’t become law …”

    Oh, please! With a majority that size, most of them talentless, gormless lefty nitwits and spine-chilling “Blair’s Babes” dependent on the patronage of Blair ‘n’ Cher to continue their invisible political careers. They vote the way the whip tells them to vote, and the whip is dependent on Bliar’s patronage. Give me a break!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “oh please! With a majority of that size….” writes the exciteable Verity. If Blair had wanted to ram his supposedly theocratic nostrums down our throats, he’d have done it by now, since there is a goodish chance that his majority will fall sharply in four weeks’ time.

    Your problem is that you take a decent argument (Blair is a dodgy, power freak) and then take it to such extremes that you lose credibility. You’re mad.

  • GCooper

    Johnathan Pearce writes:

    ” If Blair had wanted to ram his supposedly theocratic nostrums down our throats, he’d have done it by now,…”

    If you think he’d be as unsubtle as that, you are completely mistaken. That isn’t how people work – certainly not politicians and least of all consummate politicians like Bliar.

    If you don’t understand the role Bliar’s religious beliefs played in his decision to invade Iraq, then I can only conclude you either have not read, or have not understood those political analysts who have explained it, over and over again. Why do you think even the loathsome Paxman had the wit to ask him whether he prayed with Bush? Why do you believe that Bliar is regular cited as epitomising “conviction politics”? Where do think those convictions come from?

    Of course he wouldn’t be so stupid as to try anything dramatic, rather he chooses the people around him carefully, promotes with foresight (why else advance the career of the clearly useless Ruth Kelly?) and work over a period of time – a long period of time – to slowly shift the terms of debate.

  • Verity

    Jonathan, do read the posts before you fling epithets around. At no point did I imply that Blair is trying to ram theocratic nostrums down British throats.

    I have noticed over the last couple of years that once you become emotionally involved in a discussion, you tend to read everything from an emotional, egocentric point of view, often misconstruing what the poster wrote.

    I contend that the unmerited amount of attention being accorded the Pope in Britain is part of the lefty one-worlder anti-capitalism agenda and is not, in Britain at any rate, in response to assessment of audience interest. Surely, whether you agree or not, that is not so difficult to understand?

    I commend you, Jonathan and everyone else who is still clinging on to this thread, to read Peter Oborne’s ‘How Blair Betrays The Crown’ in this week’s Speccie.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Verity, if my language got heated then that is my error. Apologies. But come on a minute. You referred higher up to the “perverted” media coverage of a foreign figure. Now even though I am rather bemused the idea of a videocam coverage of him, the use of the word “perverted” is a pretty emotional use of language to me.

    I read the Oborne piece. It’s very good.

  • Verity

    Jonathan, hello again. I thought this thread must be all clapped out, but checked in just in case. “Perverted” isn’t limited to sexual perversion. One can pervert the truth, for example. Or pervert a mission – by finagling it into a position for which it wasn’t intended.

    By this measure, I believe the British coverage of the death of this Pope has been perverse – and I include not just the usual suspects, but The Telegraph in this Dianaesque eulogy-fest. I believe the first minister was perverse when he dumped the heir to the throne, his future monarch, and eventual supreme governor of the Church of England to go scampering off to the funeral of a foreign religious leader. As Peter Oborne notes.

    And in today’s Times, where it’s still top of the charts, a writer called Alan Hamilton has come out with this little number, listing British dignitaries, beginning with Prince Charles, who attended the memorial service in Westminster Cathedral, closing with “…and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who heads Henry VIII’s breakaway faction.”

    It would take a heart of stone not to burst into tears of helpless laughter.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Well Verity, having read the Oborne piece, I can see your point of view. Blair comes out of it badly. He usually does. I recall with delicious glee his fury at being shut out of the Queen Mother funeral situation. I think he went slightly round the bend at this point. (One of these days some good psychologist ought to write his biog. It would make for fascinating reading).

    I can see why you and many others have developed a huge loathing of Blair. My approach is slightly different. I hate the guy, but tend to think of him as funny in a pathetic sort of way rather than sinister. His ghastly wife, his dreadful friends, the camp speaking style; I mean, in about 10 years time, when we look back on this age, we will ask the question: how did a sentient group of people elect this turd?

    And on that uplifting note, I will leave it.

  • Verity

    Well, Jonathan, that was a graceful comment. He is sinister because of the harm he has wrought to the British body politic and British civil society and is still capable of wreaking. I read that the “ghastly wife” whose husband wanted a “more prominent role” in the Queen Mother’s funeral, cut Prince Charles dead at the Pope’s memorial service in Westminster Cathedral. And the fishwife coarseness in refusing, as the prime minister’s wife, to curtsey to the Queen turns the stomach. I’ve always thought she has the slightly mad look of an axe murderer. I see her creeping down a dark corridor, her mad eyes darting around, axe raised above her head, Psycho violins shrieking …