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The ‘Cult’ of Roman Catholicism 18 February, 2005

Posted by monopod in Religion, Writing.
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Writing about web page http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110006282

HOUSES OF WORSHIP

Calumny and a ‘Cult’

Impeccable liberal credentials won’t help Britain’s
new education secretary.

BY SCOTT NORVELL

If the paranoid left of British letters are to be
believed, schools in Britain could soon become very
frightful places indeed.

The new education secretary, Ruth Kelly, you see, has
promised to bring more discipline to the classroom,
and she is a member of a mysterious religious cult
that requires no small measure of it. She is said to
regularly attend rituals involving candles, funny
clothes and archaic languages. She willingly hands
over part of her hard-earned salary to a central
authority and presumably has agreed to abide by
ancient edicts handed down by a high power. She may
even, like some members of the cult, forgo fun things
or endure minor discomfort to help herself empathize
with her redeemer.

The cult is called Roman Catholicism.

Ms. Kelly, a 36-year-old mother of four named to Tony
Blair’s cabinet in December, has committed the
unpardonable sin of admitting that she has a belief
system to which she prefers to adhere. After weeks of
scary headlines about this belief system, Ms. Kelly
admitted in an interview with the BBC’s David Frost
earlier this month that she receives “spiritual
guidance” from a Catholic lay organization known as
Opus Dei.

Everyone, of course, knows all about Opus Dei from
“The DaVinci Code.” They know that its adherents,
backed by legions of albino monks wearing spiky
garters, fiendishly keep Christianity’s deepest
secrets, murdering nuns and anyone else who threatens
to expose them.

The hysteria in the British commentariat about Ms.
Kelly’s ascendance into the Blair cabinet was about as
restrained as Dan Brown’s bestseller was accurate
about Opus Dei, an organization of conservative
Catholics whose 85,000 members take their faith more
seriously than the average once-a-weeker.

The Scotsman newspaper found someone from a support
group for cult victims to wonder aloud whether Opus
Dei adherents would soon be recruiting in Britain’s
schools. The Times tracked down scientists who
professed to be horrified by the prospect of Ms.
Kelly’s religious beliefs interfering with stem-cell
and other “vital” research. The Independent even
created a new word for the movement: Catholofascists.

What must be particularly troublesome to these
analysts are the contradictions that Ms. Kelly herself
presents. She is reported to be an ardent trade
unionist, was indoctrinated at all the right schools,
reported on economics for the Guardian and has been a
Labor parliamentarian since 1997. That someone with
such sensible left-wing credentials could toe the
Vatican’s line on abortion, euthanasia and
contraception apparently beggars belief.

Anyone with firm convictions scares the relativists
who dominate public discussion in Britain these days.
Anyone who professes to know the difference between
right and wrong, between good and evil, seems to scare
them.

Unless, that is, those firm convictions are founded in
a faith other than Christianity. If Ms. Kelly were a
Sufi Muslim, say, her belief system would surely be of
little concern to the commentariat. Or, more
accurately, it would be a cause for celebration. There
surely would be no snide asides about
buttock-thwacking pilgrims en route to Mecca or
dervishes whirling down the halls of 10 Downing St.

The treatment afforded Ms. Kelly is hardly unusual in
Europe, and the Vatican appears to be getting testier
and testier about it. Pope John Paul II slapped around
the Spanish government for marginalizing Catholicism
in one of its heartland districts and dressed down
European Union officials for giving aspiring Justice
Minister Rocco Buttiglione the boot after he admitted
to sharing the church’s attitudes toward
homosexuality. The president of the Vatican’s
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal
Renato Raffaele Martino, recently decried the “new
holy inquisition” shadowing the continent’s Catholics.

A poor choice of words, perhaps, for a Catholic, but a
warning worth remembering every time a public servant
like Ruth Kelly with otherwise impeccable credentials
comes under scrutiny merely because she believes there
are laws higher than man’s and isn’t afraid to say so.

Mr. Norvell is the London bureau chief of Fox News.

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Comments»

1. Zhou Fang - 18 February, 2005

Unless, that is, those firm convictions are founded in a faith other than Christianity. If Ms. Kelly were a Sufi Muslim, say, her belief system would surely be of little concern to the commentariat. Or, more accurately, it would be a cause for celebration. There surely would be no snide asides about buttock-thwacking pilgrims en route to Mecca or dervishes whirling down the halls of 10 Downing St.

And he thinks the left wing is paranoid?

2. Zhou Fang - 18 February, 2005

The point being that Norvell’s article reveals much more about himself. Fox News and the rightwing press has themselves been in a constant state of hysteria over the non-possible of liberal actually taking over, ‘jews ruling hollywood’, ‘gays perverting our children’, or even worse, muslims getting into government. Liberals are understandably annoyed at the actual event of a minister whose beliefs include a genuine reduction in freedom, he pretends that the wrapper of religion makes it all nice again. It would be the same argument one uses to justify the Taliban.

3. Luke Parks - 18 February, 2005

What’s wrong with distrusting the Catholic church and Opus Dei anyway? Especially when it comes to education. What was it Ignatius Loyola is supposed to have said? ‘Show me a child when he is seven and I will show you the man.’


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