31 JULY 1993, Page 20


Why Catholics are closing ranks against the moral abomination of Brussels


Last week William Rees-Mogg and I were discussing one of the most remarkable features of the debate over Europe in Britain — the fact that English Catholics are overwhelmingly anti-Maastricht. It is no accident, for instance, that William Cash MP, the gifted strategist who has master- minded the parliamentary resistance to this infamous treaty, is a fervent papist who, like myself, was educated by the Jesuits at Stonyhurst, the oldest Catholic school in the country.

The Catholic position is worth examin- ing. In the early 1950s, when I first became interested in the European movement, all its leading members were Catholics, begin- ning with Konrad Adenauer, the German Chancellor, Robert Schumann in France and Alcide de Gasperi in Italy. There was also, it is true, a secular element. Realiter, the Paris magazine which employed me, and which had many famous 'Europeans' on its board, was non-denominational, and its editor, Alfred Max, the most enthusias- tic European I ever came across, was a non-believing Jew. But most people, espe- cially on the Left, regarded the movement as a Catholic, not to say a papist, conspira- cy. Its members were les carolingiens, who wanted to model the future Europe on the sacral, confessional empire of Charle- magne. The communists in particular denounced the coal-steel pool, the first European institution, as the sinister, mus- cular basis for a theocratic state. Guy Mol- let, the Socialist leader, a strong anti-cleri- cal, had grave misgivings about the project on this account, and it was certainly one of the reasons why my own hero, Pierre Mendes-France, was never a keen Euro- pean. I remember Jean Monet, who found- ed the movement, asking me, as an Englishman, how he could change its cleri- calist image and so persuade a great Protestant nation like the British to join.

So what has happened since then to turn so many Catholics, especially English ones, against European federalism? The word `English' is important of course. English Catholics, unlike Irish and even Scottish ones, never put continental Catholic inter- ests before those of our country. We remained staunch patriots even in the worst periods of persecution, and never allowed our religious allegiance, or even our respect for the Holy See, to come into conflict with our duty to the crown. However, that is not the fundamental reason why Catholics are

turning against the European superstate.

Catholic doctrine has always treated the ambitions of the state with reserve and even hostility. It opposed Hegelian state- worship, leading as in time it did to all the horrors of Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism and Nazism. It parted with Mussolini when he announced, 'Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.' The great Pope Gregory VII, Hildebrand, devoted his life to fighting the totalitarian tendencies of the Holy Roman Empire as long ago as the 11th century, and died a martyr to his cause. Catholic teach- ing sees the family, a sacramental institu- tion, as the true social unit, and notes with abhorrence that in our century the over- weening state has always treated the family as an enemy. Konrad Adenauer testified that, during the worst moments of Hitler's tyranny, it was in the bosom of his family that he found psychological comfort and relief from the horrors of the Nazi state. Pope John Paul II has made exactly the same point about the experience of Poland, first under the Nazis, then under the Marx- ists.

It should not, therefore, be surprising that, as the Brussels tyranny grows, as its bureaucrats multiply and the list of its regu- lations — many of them inspired by social atheism in its worst form — lengthens daily, more and more Catholics begin to see it as a force for evil. Here is the new form of the totalitarian state, huge and hideous, flexing its bureaucratic muscles and preparing to engulf us. If Brussels tells us exactly how we may, or may not, slaugh- ter a pig or grow a pear or peel a potato, how long will it be before it tells us what church to attend? Of particular concern for Catholics is the Brussels work-ethic, which by forcing EEC members to make compul- sory provision for work-place creches implies that a non-working woman or mother is an anomaly, an anachronism. It teaches that for a woman to make raising a family her vocation is unacceptable and even unlawful.

Moreover, Catholics remember the chain of thought which brought one of their lead- ing historians, Lord Acton, to pronounce so famously on the tendency of power to cor- rupt. Brussels has far too much power and is now openly corrupt; irredeemably cor- rupt. The gruesome case of Jacques Attali and his bank is merely a tiny indication of where things are heading. No one has yet discovered, for instance, the extent of thiev- ing in agricultural subsidies, which has already led to one man disappearing (almost certainly murdered) and another killing himself; but it is likely to involve at least $10 billion. In the words of Dunning's motion, 'Corruption in the EEC has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.' But who will diminish it? Maastricht will merely widen its opportuni- ties.

If anyone needed further proof of the inherent tendency of the European super- state to corrupt all who worship it, he need look no further than the methods used to get Maastricht through parliament. This was a corrupt process, carried through by the most corrupt British government since the days of Lloyd George. Lies have been freely told, knighthoods and other baubles have been demanded and promised, while blackmail and, in some cases, physical force have been used to get MPs into the right lobbies. Catholics are naturally perturbed by the exactions of the Ulster men, more particularly since the Government has, in this case, compounded its skulduggery by blatant mendacity. Asked in 1886 how much it cost to buy the vote of an Irish Nationalist MP, Sir William Harcourt, Gladstone's number two, replied, 'Ten pounds — and five on Derby day.' Protes- tant Ulstermen come more expensive, and their exactions are invariably political and usually have to be paid in blood.

In short, Maastricht is a moral abomina- tion which has been pushed through parlia- ment by unjust means. It may be lawful that remains to be seen — but for Catholics, or for any other sincere Chris- tians, it can have no moral validity. If we refuse to obey its provisions, if we exercise the right of resistance to them, we may be guilty in the eyes of the law, and persecuted accordingly. But we are innocent in the eyes of Almighty God.