Thursday, 7 April 2016

A Timely Warning

The past few days I've been on Retreat at the Oratory School, led by the Rector of the Shrine at Walsingham, Mgr John Armitage. Five of the priest retreatants were members of the Ordinariate, which was a good proportion. The addresses were good, the prayer time very helpful, but as always I took a book or two along.
Mgr John Armitage
One of  those (plucked at the last minute seemingly at random from our bookshelves) was Leslie Paul's "Sir Thomas More" - a short biography which my wife had when she was still at school - so it is not in the forefront of  Thomas More scholarship. One paragraph though caught my attention. Maybe it is because years ago I went to Romania with one of our St Stephen's House Ordinands, to attend the ordination of a young Orthodox priest who had studied with us in Oxford for a year. In one of the churches in Brasov was a map of Europe - England out on the edge, at the centre Romania. During that visit we went up into the mountains of Transylvania. All I knew about that part of Europe was the name of Vlad - whom we called "The Impaler". In Romania though he is a national hero, who saved Christendom from the invading Turks.

This came back to me as I read a page in Paul's book  on Thomas More - here it is:
"The Papal supremacy was, in More's eyes, the guarantee of the spiritual unity of  Christendom. It was useless to pretend that the Bishop of Rome was just as other bishops; to assert this was to discredit Christ's word to Peter. And if Christendom rally existed, then it must have a head for the same reason that a country had a prince; the head was either Pope, or General Council, or Pope appointed by General Council. If the unity was broken by denying the papal supremacy, then, no matter what justifications might be produced for it, the victory was one for the forces of darkness.They needed little encouragement. More asserted that the surrender to the 'great Turk' within a nation meant ultimate victory for the infidel who was fighting his way up from Constantinople into the heart of Europe in More's own lifetime; and whose menace was so little understood that one Pope at  least was prepared to make an alliance with the Turks in order to defeat his European enemies, and the Lutherans would rather the Turks had Rome than the Popes.Such was the measure of European folly. The papal supremacy and European unity went together,destroy the one and it would be impossible ever again to guarantee the other; disorder and dissension would increase everywhere, and Christ's church itself be endangered. In disowning his debt to Europe, Henry VIII was turning his back on European civilization, and More was virtually the only layman in England who saw what it all implied for the future."

Hagia Sophia debased with Minarets: so what of St Paul's in London?
We need a new Statesman of More's calibre to tell our politicians that any deal which would let Turkey into the European Union would be madness; that to speak of "Christian Ideals" without mentioning Christ or his Church is purest fantasy; and that we should discriminate carefully which 'refugees' we allow into the country - persecuted Christians first, then other minorities suffering at the hands of Muslims. Remember history.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to see a priest wear a full size dog collar, especially now the Protestant world and his charismatic pastor wife have taken to the Roman collar (no disrespect intended to those Anglo Catholics who wore them as a statement of their intention).