Today, the Telegraph plumbs new depths in its vendetta against the FCO over Popegate.
Yesterday, after quoting an anonymous threat from the Vatican to cancel the Papal visit, it was forced to admit that official sources had dismissed the memo as having “absolutely” no impact on the Pope’s plans.
Instead of backing off (having made the most of what was, even without the garnish, a good story), the paper has now doubled down in a truly despicable article that:
- Outs the author of the memo, 23 year-old Steven Mulvain, as gay, based on his Facebook status. (I wonder how the paper got that information? Surely, Mulvain didn’t have a completely open profile.)
- Names Mulvain’s boss – Anjoum Noorani – printing his photo to ensure that readers are in no doubt that Noorani is (gasp) a member of an ethnic minority.
- Hassles Noorani’s mother (!) in Windsor, as if she is in any way relevant to the story.
Of course, the paper doesn’t come straight out and allege that the whole affair is a gay/Muslim plot, though that is clearly the implication. Instead, it complains that the FCO failed to put a Catholic in charge of the visit, rustling up another anonymous quote from the Vatican:
The most striking thing about the Foreign Office team has been how ineffectual they are. They have been disengaged and, frankly, clueless.
I have never had the impression that any members of the team were informed or even sensitive to the Catholic Church or Catholicism generally.
Update: Damian Thompson throws some more paraffin on the fire:
The Catholic Church in this country is (a) not wildly enthusiastic about Benedict XVI, and (b) paralysed by political correctness. The four-strong FO team was led by a member of an ethnic minority and included a gay man. There’s nothing wrong with that: they could have done a fantastic job, particularly if the team had included a practising Catholic (perhaps from an ethnic community – they’re the ones who go to Mass these days). But they didn’t.
And there’s no evidence that any danger signals were spotted by Eccleston Square, which has delegated the papal visit organisation to the Left-wing Mgr Andrew Summersgill, a Magic Circle hardliner some of whose colleagues are heavily into rainbow coalition-style politicking. (If Summersgill had been told that the FO team included an Asian and a gay guy, I can imagine him asking why the transgendered community had been left out.)
The Foreign Office’s sick attack on the Pope: what did you expect?… My reaction is to say to the Bishops of England and Wales:
NOW do you finally understand what sort of snide, cheap and ignorant prejudice has flourished under this Government and its civil servants – wall-to-wall secularists for whom the Roman Catholic Church is at best an antiquated irrelevance and at worst a sick joke? […]
Oh, sure, the Foreign Office says: “This is clearly a foolish document that does not in any way reflect UK Government or Foreign Office policy or views” – and, of course, most of these proposals wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
But reflect the attitudes of Brown’s government and its politically correct employees is precisely what the document does.
Tim Collard – former diplomat and, apparently, “an active member of the Labour Party”:
Predictably, the usual suspects have blown it up into an international incident. I regret to say that our blogmeister Damian Thompson has made himself look a bit of a Charlie, heading his posting “The Foreign Office’s sick attack on the Pope: what did you expect?”
No, the FCO is not institutionally secularist, Satanist or whatever: it just contains a lot of people who like taking the mickey. Chuck it, Thompson!
Perhaps, we should ask why British diplomats are having to spend their time prepping for the visit of a head of state who (i) leads a religion rather than a state (diplomatic relations are with the Holy See, not Vatican City); (ii) exerts a disproportionate influence on international organisations, especially whenever abortion, contraception or HIV/AIDS is on the agenda (denouncing the latter as a ‘true pathology of the spirit” at the General Assembly Special Session on AIDS in 2001, opposing emergency contraception for women raped in Kosovo).
According to Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the principal agent of Papal diplomacy is the Pope himself, part of whose global role is to “contest systems or ideas that corrode the dignity of the person.” In practice, this means using international fora to oppose:
Delegations from certain Western countries who wish… to impose models of life that were actually the result of the propaganda of certain minorities within their societies… It will always be the duty of the Holy See to prevent the lowering of personal and social moral standards and to contribute to raising them.
No other religion enjoys the diplomatic privileges accorded to the Holy See=, with its status is yet another example of how Europe’s historical dominance skews the international system.
Maybe some brave soul in the FCO should set to work on a memo suggesting that it is time to start treating the Catholic Church like any other religious organisation…