How they are connected

Apropos of my little dig at Ma Pepsi the other day, I’d like to flag up a genuinely interesting and relevant article from the Suppository. Granted, it’s more than a decade old, but it does shine a light on current events nonetheless.

This is an extract from Clifford Longley’s book The Worlock Archive, which inter alia deals with the friction between Archbishop Worlock and Cardinal Hume that was something of an open secret at the time. Clifford’s extract deals with, you’ve guessed it, John Paul II’s pastoral visit to Britain in 1982, something that came to be seen as a roaring success due to the continuing strength of popular Catholicism (and, if you think popular Catholicism is finished, please note that last year some 300,000 people turned out to see St Thérèse’s relics despite very little publicity) but was marred by shocking organisation and serious money problems. Clifford explains:

AND so the Catholic Church in England and Wales travelled towards the ultimate Catholic happening – a personal visit by the Pope. It was a great upheaval, requiring many clergy to leave aside their familiar tasks and undertake entirely new and strange ones. Canon lawyers became temporary business managers, seminary lecturers became press officers, hospital chaplains police liaison workers. One group had to negotiate with car companies for the manufacture of a right-hand-drive popemobile; another to strike deals with insurance companies; another to supervise the growing trade in official souvenirs of the papal visit and extract the appropriate rake-off for the Church. Amateurs though they were, they turned out to be very good at all this.

Well, yes, but more by providence than design, as even an optimistic chap like Clifford would admit. And there was also the money issue:

Thus the Church had to borrow from the banks – the total budget was more than £6 million in 1982 values – and raise the money to pay for the visit afterwards, partly from church collections, partly from royalties on branded goods (which quickly became a minor industry). For an institution which traditionally lived hand to mouth, usually more interested in its overdraft limit than its cash in hand, there was a lot at stake.

Indeed so, and it shows up some of the possible problems that would confront September’s papal visit even if one could rely on the Bishops’ Conference not to make a pig’s ear of matters. But this is by the by; what interests me is what Clifford says about the political and press aspect:

…exceptionally, papal advisers agreed to allow very substantial British input in the briefing of the Pope and the preparation of his addresses. This enabled some careful downplaying of one or more of the most sensitive matters. It was widely felt among English Catholic leaders, for instance, that if the Pope went round the country berating the population for the looseness of its sexual morals, especially in the use of contraception, the visit would rapidly turn into a public relations disaster which English Catholics would have to live with for a long time to come.

Indeed, the whole purpose was for JP2 to give an upbeat, feelgood performance of the sort he was so good at. To have had him give off in public about some controversial issue really would have been embarrassing. But luckily, there were willing volunteers available to keep JP’s texts as uncontroversial as possible:

Worlock reported in one of his recollections of the papal visit that when the rather delicate matter of briefing the Pope was raised, I moved that the matter be left with the Cardinal and subsequently he got a team of three or four together under George Leonard. Apart from Leonard, Hume’s group preparing draft texts for the Pope consisted mainly of Vincent Nichols, Alan Clark and James Hook (Leonard’s deputy), working under the Cardinal’s supervision. Worlock was asked to prepare a couple of drafts himself.

Now, this is rather interesting. At the time, Fr Vincent Nichols was Derek Worlock’s sidekick in the Liverpool archdiocese, and his involvement in the papal visit would have marked his card as an up-and-comer, as with the administrative involvement of Fr Seán Brady in JP’s Irish visit. This casts a fascinating light on Archbishop Nichols’ current pronouncements about the delicate communications involved in Benedict’s visit, especially if you think of his involvement in drafting deliberately uncontroversial texts for JP. B16 of course likes to write his own texts, but no doubt Eccleston Square will have briefings ready to go on what subjects it would be politic for the Holy Father to avoid.

It also points up a recurring phenomenon in English Catholicism (and Irish Catholicism, for that matter), where the same names and faces keep on popping up in different contexts, year after year. You think there’s an enclosed, incestuous world there? You bet there is.

Vincent Nichols, of course, has since got the top job in English Catholicism, though in some ways he’s an aberrant case. It’s no secret that +Vinnie is not universally popular with his brother bishops, being seen as not very clubbable and rather too nakedly ambitious. It is known that, prior to his appointment to Westminster, at least two English bishops wrote to the Vatican urging that he shouldn’t get the gig, something that is almost unprecedented. He has made some friends in Rome by being just about the only bishop in England who’s actually read Ratzinger and has some idea what the HF is talking about, which doesn’t hurt when you consider just how heterodox the English bishops can be. However, if Nichols has become visibly much more orthodox over the years, I am sure that has nothing to do with the ambition of a crafty ecclesiastical politician, but is rather a case of +Vincent being moved by the Holy Spirit.

What’s more interesting than the episcopacy in some ways is that category known as “influential laity”, the sort of people who get invited on the BBC to discuss Catholic issues when Nichols and McMahon and the boys are lying low. And of course you find small circles of people who think more or less identically. If you performed some minor stylistic edits on Ma Pepsi’s article, it would be indistinguishable from the stuff Austen Ivereigh has been writing on the issue.

Clifford Longley is a good example of the phenomenon. He continues to occupy his long-term berth on the Suppository as Ma Pepsi’s right-hand man, and is also a regular on news discussions thanks to his ready availability for interview. The Tablet connection is one that runs through this like lettering through a stick of Blackpool rock. The Peppermint Spinster herself has been doing lots of media, as you’d expect. Lord Chris Patten, recently appointed by David Cameron as his papal visit czar, sits on the Tablet Trust, the body that publishes the Suppository. And of course you have another Suppository bigwig, and former press secretary to Cardinal Cormac, Austen Ivereigh, doing (or not doing) the press operation, something I will now deal with.

As noted, the press operation is being bankrolled by the Catholic Union, and is effectively (or perhaps not so effectively) being run by Jack Valero and Austen Ivereigh. Jack, who possesses some of the shiniest suits I’ve ever seen, is of course the UK head honcho of Opus Dei and seems to have his finger in every pie around. Austen is a good mate of Jack’s, and furthermore is like the cat who always lands on his feet, appearing as if by magic at the heart of whatever Catholic media initiative is going on at any particular time. Now, I have some regard for the CU as a lay organisation that does useful work, but I must raise the question of whether the CU gave any serious consideration to what sort of media operation would be needed, or if Dan Brennan and Jamie Bogle simply listened to a pitch from Jack and Austen and wrote them a cheque. I have no conclusive evidence either way.

So, the core of this media strategy, if one can call it a strategy, is Catholic Voices, which is all about giving 25 enthusiastic lay people some media training to enable them to go on the airwaves and put the Catholic point of view. In principle, this is a great idea, the apostolate of the laity in action, and something along these lines should have been done years ago. That’s not to say that questions can’t be raised about the execution. There has been some grumbling about whether the array of professionals who make up the Voices are representative of a community that’s predominantly working-class and very multi-ethnic. There are questions about whether it’s quite as independent of the BCEW in practice as in theory. There are rather more pointed questions about what exactly this media training involves, and whether it equips the Voices for dealing with a media that’s likely to be ignorant and hostile in equal measure.

For instance, currently the media find it difficult to discuss any Catholic issue without bringing it back to the sex abuse scandal. That’s perfectly natural from a journalistic point of view, and obviously anyone doing an interview needs to be on top of their facts as regards the Scandal. I recently saw Bishop Malcolm McMahon doing News 24’s HardTalk on precisely this issue, and +Malcy was so poorly briefed that he only survived by virtue of Stephen Sackur literally not having a clue what he was talking about. It was like watching two incompetent boxers repeatedly failing to land punches on each other. Now, let’s say for talk’s sake that if you’re a Catholic Voice, your preparation on this most important subject consists of a briefing which directs you under “further reading” to lots of articles by Austen Ivereigh. This sort of thing may be what you’d expect of a man who will entertain his engagement party with YouTube clips of his triumphant appearances on News 24, but really, is it what’s needed? Especially when these articles are of very variable quality, and their main distinguishing feature is a resolute defence of the English hierarchy?

You don’t need to be a traddie obscurantist to form the impression that the “progressive” Catholic establishment in England is precisely the greatest block to the openness and transparency that everyone agrees is needed. This backslapping culture of people covering for each other, getting jobs for their mates and burying any criticism of Eccleston Square is something that can no longer be afforded. Does it aid the task of cleaning up the Augean stables to get endless op-eds in the Tablet reassuring the faithful that all is well? I would say not. And the joke is that Austen will tell you to your face that there’s no such thing as the Magic Circle. Ya think, DiNozzo?

Hat tip for the Longley article to the indefatigable James Preece, who is an object lesson himself, in a different way. Despite being a passionate and argumentative guy (a good recommendation, you would think, for media work), James has been deemed unsuitable for inclusion in the Catholic Voices programme on the grounds of being too Catholic – that is, he’s too loyal to the Pope and can’t be relied on not to say anything that might embarrass the Bishops’ Conference. There’s a lesson there for us.

40 Comments

  1. neprimerimye said,

    June 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    The greatest fear of the bureaucracy at the heart of the church establishment is popular Catholicism. Its a class thing at bottom.

  2. Marc said,

    June 19, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Thanks for the post! an excellent read (I knew nothing about C. L. apart from the fact that he is indentured at the T.). Who is this DiNozzo, by the way?

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      June 19, 2010 at 8:14 pm

      It is a reference to a popular tele-vision programme.

  3. Mark P said,

    June 19, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Out of curiousity, were you this angrily religious when you were on the far left?

    Or did you pick it up like fleas while hanging around the blogs of arch-Catholic reactionaries?

    Or is it one of those intimations of mortality sort of things a lot of people get as they get older?

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      June 19, 2010 at 9:40 pm

      Angry? I’m never angry. And church politics is remarkably similar to Marxist politics of course.

      • Mark P said,

        June 20, 2010 at 1:14 am

        Yes, I’m well aware of the similarities between Marxist politics and church politics, although I tend to think that the Anabaptist sects are more interesting in that regard. The Catholic Church can do a reasonable approximation of the CPs, but in religion as in politics the sectarians are more interesting.

        As for you not being angrily religious, that’s not the impression I’ve got from your comments on the harmless hobbyists of the National Secular Society or lefty American Nuns. If you prefer the term “vigorous” rather than angry, feel free to substitute it. Either way the question remains, when did this wave of religiosity overtake you?

        I’m curious because I have close relatives who have rediscovered a Catholic piety as they’ve aged and mortality has become a more intrusive reality. However, they’ve tended towards a left Catholicism, which clearly has something in common with their wider politics. You on the other hand seem to have taken to hanging around the most ridiculous reactionary to the point of self-parody Tories. So you’ll hang around Damian Thompson’s blog while relentlessly sneering at less malevolent Catholics.

        You are obviously under no obligation to account for your views to me, but seriously, what gives?

      • splinteredsunrise said,

        June 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm

        I appreciate your concern, really. It’s a Tubingen School thing. If you’re requesting a blog on the thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar, be careful what you wish for.

        Anyway, all will become clear in due course. At least, clearer than it is now.

  4. robert said,

    June 19, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Indeed except the Marxist Church never recovered from the sectarian splits after Khruschev denounced Pope Stalin.

  5. Gregor said,

    June 19, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Kinda weird experience for me reading this blog. Whenever my fellow lefties talk about religion, I usually have to take them through the Ladybird books stage: usually need to explain a bit about why the Old Testament is called The Old Testament.

    Anyway, I sometimes get a bit out of my depth in your posts on Catholicism but still love them and sympathise with a lot of your views. We had a minister visiting our Orthodox community and a lady asked him what he admired and didn’t admire about the Orthodox Church and he automatically said that he admired our ‘confidence’.

    I think that was something that we don’t even think about but I got the guy’s point. Our bullish traditionalism doesn’t get questioned much from within, and look at all the troubles it’s saved us from? We’ve avoided the Scylla of embarrassing agnostic Bishops like Richard Holloway as well as the Charybdis of creationist literalists. These are the forking paths that the RCC faces if it tries more theological liberalism.

    The closest thing to the English Catholics Bishops scenario was probably Bishop Basil at Ennismore gardens. The result: the little Englanders skulked away and snivelled to The Independent about the Russian peasants ruining their gig. Astonishingly the Russian Bishops didn’t seem remotely concerned.

    (Incidentally, isn’t it great to see the toffs being put in their place in modern Britain for once? And how come its up to arch-reactionaries to do this whilst ‘progressive’ Nick Clegg is their best buddy?)

    Incidentally, I’ve heard some Orthodox saying good words about one of Pope Benny’s books.

  6. Policraticus said,

    June 20, 2010 at 6:56 am

    a propos the Russian Orthodox keen interest in B16’s writing – look no further than http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/1343399?eng=y
    Sandro Magister explains it all chapter and verse.
    Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev, President of the Moscow patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations who in the Introduction to the 2009 book, ‘Europe, Spiritual Homeland’ (presented to the pope on December 2nd) states: “The Christian is called to profess his faith boldly, out of love of God and of his truth, and for the salvation of his soul, for eternal life. He must denounce by legal means the clear violation committed by society or by the state against the laws and commandments of God. And if this action should prove impossible or ineffective, then he must move on to civil disobedience.”

  7. Chris Williams said,

    June 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Splinty, if it’s the ‘progressive establishement’ that’s the problem, then how come that there’s an OD guy right in the middle of it?

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      June 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm

      There are few pies that Jack doesn’t have a finger in. Moreover, Jack is not a man to ruffle the feathers of the Bishops’ Conference.

    • ejh said,

      June 20, 2010 at 4:14 pm

      While I have no wish to defend whatever our host is trying to hint at on this subject, I should observe that Opus Dei don’t really have any problem with working within a progressive establishment. Or any other kind. The important thing for them is that they be there.

  8. Austen Ivereigh said,

    June 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I have no wish to intervene in this discussion, but just want to correct the record. (a) I have nothing to do with the press operation for the papal visit, which is organised by Eccleston Square. (b) The press operation for the papal visit is NOT paid for the Catholic Union; the costs of the CCN come out of the bishops’ conference budget, as you’d expect. (c) Catholic Voices is not “the core of the media strategy” for the papal visit; it’s an independent, separate operation. The media strategy for the visit is designed by the CCN, and CV is not part of the CCN. (d) While it has been helpful in many other ways, the Catholic Union hasn’t contributed a penny to Catholic Voices; the funding for CV comes from a charitable foundation and some individual donors. (e) Feel free to question the representativeness of CV, but any sociological study will show the Catholic community is no longer predominantly working class. Cheers. Austen.

    • Simon Platt said,

      June 23, 2010 at 9:06 pm

      Perhaps not predominately working class. But nor are they all Oxbridge graduates (nothing against that, mind) from the south of England (not much against that either, I suppose, but the question does bear asking).

      Incidentally, where *are* these “catholic voices”? Why do I never hear anything about them, except on blogs expressing disappointment of one kind or another?

  9. Policraticus said,

    June 20, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    One should be grateful to Dr. Ivereigh for clarifying certain things viz the Church’s media strategy for the papal visit to Gt. Britain [excluding Wales - a fact often overlooked] and in particular, the role of Catholic Voices within the totality of that strategy, elements of which were predicted in a Tablet editorial quite some time ago. It would be good to know which ‘charitable foundation’ is behind the costs of CV in the interests of transparency -after all, even the Catholic Education Service [not known for its orthodoxy in faith and morals in respect of the primary educator (parents)] recently admitted that ‘he who pays the piper calles the tune’ in respect of warning the Catholic school community off the UK Coalition government’s plans to set up academies. Knowing who the main funder is for CV might enable the unelightened observer of the CV initiative just exactly what Dr. Ivereigh means by the Catholic community being ‘no longer predominantly working class’. Is there something terribly wrong with being Catholic and ‘working class?’

    • Austen Ivereigh said,

      June 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      Obviously nothing wrong with being working-class; how could there be, given Catholic Social Teaching? I merely observe that British Catholics are no longer predominantly w-c, and therefore it is unreasonable to accuse the CV team of being unrepresentative on the gounds that it is not made up of predominantly w-c people. (Actually I really don’t know what “class” most of them are; does anyone still think like this? Maybe that’s not an appropriate question for this blog.) I’m happy to accept it’s unrepresentative on other grounds, although it’s a very broad group in many ways. As to revealing the identity of the charitable foundations which have given to CV — sorry, I can’t. Like many donors, they prefer to be anonymous. The individuals are, you know, bankers and businessmen — the sort that usually give to Catholic causes. None of them have given with any conditions; they’re just happy to see some Catholics being well briefed and well trained, so that it’s easier for the Church to be part of the national conversation. If they see that happening, they’ll consider their money well spent.

      • crouchback said,

        June 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

        Very Broad…???…how many Dead Stoat Carriers….?????

        ie…..how many have door stopped their Parish Priest, their Bishop, and the Cardinal Archbishops of Westminster and St Andrews and Edinburgh asking for the return of the Traditional Mass to any parish within ……oh lets say……an hours drive from home….????

        Not bloody many I’d bet….!!!

  10. Paul Priest said,

    June 20, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    I can’t help but feel a little suspicious ; especially after reading Joanna Bogle’s article in the NCR [wonder how conducive she and Jamie would have been if someobody's opinions of them were a little more broadly known? never mind].

    £50,000 is the stated figure by Jack Valero. Surely that must mean the running costs and expenses ? Not the actual total figure – unless all the co-ordinators are so altruistically motivated that they’re doing this for nothing? If not – further scrutiny might be required? This ‘charitable foundation’ – Opus Dei ? Worth Abbey ? other shadow-puppeteers behind the curtains ; not purchasing something for nothing ?

    The Catholic Union has allowed Catholic Voices to include Catholic in its name
    outside the normal route of doing so via gaining episcopal permission ; and one must feel compelled to ask why recently whenever a pertinent National Catholic issue has arisen within the media – Jack or Austen has been there to provide pragmatic , accommodating, insouciant commentary we could all well do without…but where are the CCN ?
    Instead it’s mork and mindy’s mugs eveywhere.
    Still I suppose the recordings provide cheap entertainment for social functions but Austen dude – couldn’t you have hired a clown [er maybe superfluous] an illusionist [er..ditto] a comedian? [er this is getting worse!]…um….a karaoke machine? I’m sure there are people who’d pay ready money to see yours and Jack’s rendition of ‘I got you babe’ ?

    Feel free to question the representativeness ? Ok !

    Let’s see shall we :- the group composition was self-declared in the briefings to be directed towards a ‘Pauline construct’ to reflect the diversity and multi-facetted variety of cultures, backgrounds and traditions within national Catholicism ; where a complementarity of talents and capabilities could be integrated and utilised.

    No such entity arose : rather it was a ‘fit-up’ from even before the interviews.
    The 20-40 age limit eliminated a vast array of major highly informed and experienced long-term lay Catholic commentators and bloggers [even though if you look at the line-up you'll soon discover this age-limit was actually subsequently ignored]
    Three of the major most well known young Catholic bloggers [Laurence England, James Preece and Catherine Lafferty] were either not considered or fobbed off with ‘red tape’ or insult ; before I even went to my pre-interview meeting with Jack Valero I myself had already been ‘dissed’ by Austen as utterly inappropriate.

    The resultant ‘elitist’, far-from-remotely-Pauline group is a conglomerate of economic, political, legal ‘up-and-comers and ‘our sort’ [sic!] of token Catholics. The majority of the team are from Oxbridge or major London universities and City or Westminster operatives; most are politically Conservative [a few are even scarily vociferous party activists] ; an unusually high amount are far-from-inexperienced ordinary Catholics [as is constantly claimed] , but are very much part of the inner-rings, cliques, clades and niche-markets among the ‘professional Catholic’ chattering classes.

    ….not a Shepherd, Carpenter or Fisherman amongst them. Working class members need never have applied.

    In other words they are future ‘movers and shakers’ [bar a few tokens for diversity] – worthy acolytes for the initiative which seeks the continuance and aggrandisement of Austen Ivereigh and his flavour of ‘accommodating’ Catholicism; which is far from orthodox, informed or consistent.

    [Even the most ill-educated Catholic would be appalled at the dearth of insight , relevance to the issues and actual Catholic teaching within the briefing notes – the notes on the Clerical abuse ‘crisis’ are ill-informed, lacking in reference to pertinent Vatican documents, devoid of any structural defence , statistics or facts regarding the major events ; and ultimately are little more than journalistic hackery by one Austen Ivereigh; where he blames the entire issue on pre-vatican 2 clericalism ; while allowing already magisterially proscribed issues such as women priests together with the removal of clerical celibacy as ‘now open for debate’ and possible solutions to the ‘crisis’. Even when it comes to a potential link between abuse and reckless clerical homosexual activity it is dismissed with a quite derisory “sorry [Cardinal] Bertone!”.
    I might add that even in the interview briefing where one was to defend ‘Catholic’ teaching one was rather provided with articles by Mr Ivereigh towers and an Opus dei moral theologian which argued that condoms were acceptable within a marriage where one partner was hiv+ [irrespective of the UN/US depts of virology statistical evidence that should such advice be followed 10% of the wives of hiv+ men would seroconvert within nine years ; giving them a potential death sentence] – apart from it being contrary to Catholic teaching within Humanae Vitae and also a wilfully defiant stance against the Pope’s recent comments on the issue to boot!

    But that’s far from surprising. We know that Austen Ivereigh’s friend Mark Dowd is making a hyper-critical savagely indicting documentary against His Holiness ; and Catholic Voices are actually participating in the Peter Tatchell presented anti-Papal documentary for Channel 4 – where it can be guaranteed that their ‘defence’ will be as gap-filled, embarassing and ineffective as Hinge and Brackett’s recent gaffe-laden media love-ins.

    These poor sods in the Catholic Voices team are very far from being even remotely adequately trained to counter opposition or defend the Church on the relevant issues. To such an extent their media iterviews will be worth recording as car-crash video nasties – live eviscerations redolent of what Nero and Diocletian did to early Christians. Fifteen seconds after confronting an informed erudite Secularist or anti-papal activist and they will be mopping up their own blood with their useless briefing notes.

    James Preece recently denounced Austen Ivereigh as a liabiity. I’d go further to suggest that given his association [deputy editor] with the abortion-promoting, population control-defending, euthanasia-justifying, heretic-supporting, anti-Clerical, anti-papal , heterodox and apostatic ‘bitter-pill’ – the Tablet – He is more a fifth columnist and Vichyist renegade.

    …and today Mr Artificial Intelligence himself comes out with another doozie ; that Catholicism is no longer predominantly working class !!!
    [Incidentally I'd have loved you to have seen all the CV co-ordinators' faces when I said I was a shelf-stacker at the interview - I think they'd have been more effusive had I told them I buggered goats before sacrificing them to Moloch!]

    Response ?
    NEWS TO US AUSTEN DARLING !!!
    Outside the sanctuary where all the professional laity prance around being ‘liturgical’ ministers of this, that and bugger all ; outside the quangoes and diocesan offices and lay-steering committees and debating chambers and the vast array of hired enablers, facilitators and co-ordinators….

    …the vast majority of Catholics left in the congregation…
    The poor sods who do all the praying and paying-
    ARE WORKING CLASS!!!

    If Austen Ivereigh wishes to prove otherwise ?
    Substantive corroborating evidence please !

    Because we ordinary Catholics – the ones on the front line who actually believe in Church teachings and try our best to live them out day-by-day
    – look around us in Church and are very aware that the majority of the middle classes were the first cafeteria-Catholics from the 80s and 90s to vanish from the pews !!!
    [ that is - unless they were allowed to have a bit-part in the bacchanalia around the altar...]

    I think we’re all rapidly coming to conclude that there are lies, damned lies, and Ivereighisms !

    • Res Miranda said,

      June 21, 2010 at 10:41 pm

      Mork & Mindy? Hinge & Bracket? Valero & Ivereigh are Dick Dastardly & Muttley, surely?

  11. Zuzy Creamcheese said,

    June 21, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    It is clear and obvious that Mr Ivereigh lacks any knowledge of sociology and is happy with the neo-liberal system that has adminstered this country since 1976. Why else would he seek to deny the obvious that the majority of people in this country are working class and for that matter identify themselves as such? Moreover Mr Ivereighs fantastic assertion that the majority of Roman Catholics in Britain are no longer working class is simply bizarre. Has he visited a Roman Catholic church in London recently I wonder.

    It seems Mr Ivereigh is unaware that an absolute majority people in this country are waged workers lacking any other income and owning little more than a mortgaged property at best. Most of whom willingly identify themselves as being working class. In fact a sizeable minority of them are members of the largest voluntary organisations in this country the trades union movement. A movement that is based on collective organisation of workers in the workplaces to ameliorate the exploitation that is their lot in this society. I note that Mr Ivereighs organisation London Citizens takes monies from some elements of this movement but denies its very basic principles.

    Given that there are some millions of Roman Catholics in Britain, many of whom have recently migrated here in order to find work or are the descendents of those who did so within one or two generations, it seems absurd to suggest that all such people have ceased, in some miraculous manner, to be working class. Or is Mr Ivereigh suggesting that Roman Catholics in Britain have in some fashion risen from the working class? This might prove to be news to the Filipina maids and the Polish building workers who flock to churchs every Sunday. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of children and grandchildren of Irish immigrants now otherwise integrated into the workforce.

    Mr Ivereigh tells us that the members of Catholic Voices are not unrepresenative of the Roman Catholic community in Britain. Indeed he denies that Class has any meaning in Britain today openly wondering as to whether anybody thinks like that about the concept of class. As I have argued above the majority of people in this country do indeed ‘think like that ‘about class even if they do not accept a Marxist conception of class struggle. As we can well assume Mr Ivereigh has little knowledge of this majoruty given that his own social position and those he associates with is anything but working class. Mr Ivereigh of course feels sorry for the oppressed and downtrodden but does not associate with us at a social level.

    Happily Mr Ivereigh, wants it to be known that there is ‘nothing wrong’ with being working class, a great relief to me i’m sure, and mentions Catholic Social Theory in this regard. He is an expert I note with a book to promote on this very subject. A book in which he is far from forthcoming about social class passing over the concept by describing it as unCatholic! It may well be so but it is a reality for the many millions on low wages and/or threatened by the loss of a job, or running the risk of having an already low living standard being eroded by cuts from his friend David Cameron.

    Did Mr Ivereigh not mention that he is a friend of Davids? Did he not mention that he is seeking a deal with Cameron that will see London Citizens train thousands of ‘community organisers’ to do the bidding of the ConDem administration? No, he reserved that boast for The Tablet a ‘liberal’ Catholic weekly that backed Mosley in the 1930s. How that will go down with those union branches that fund London Citizens I do not know.

    But let us turn to that most representative body of British Catholicism known as Catholic Voices. Even if one were to accept Mr Ivereighs assertion that the majority of Catholics in Britain are no longer working class the idea that Catholic Voices are a representative body of Catholics in Britain is very strange. Unless a very sizeable minority of Catholics have studied theology, as have many Catholic Voices, or belong to what sociologists describe as the New Middle Classes, that is to say have higher degrees and work in the professions. Mention of which brings me to the nature of the professions the Catholic Voices work in. A number are barristers working in commercial law for example and others work in related commercial fields. I suspect though that more Catholics are baristas rather than barristers if I may be allowed a weak joke to conclude.

  12. crouchback said,

    June 23, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Listen I’m working class…….all I want is the real Mass. The Ghastly Novus Ordo has to go. I’ve been twice this week to Novus Ordo freak shows…..it has to stop. It is killing the church.

    Very well said OTSOTA…..you old got buggerer, you.

    • Zuzy Creamcheese said,

      June 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      Oh you poor thing. Working class, sincere belief and a desire for a ritual you find comforting.

      • crouchback said,

        June 24, 2010 at 10:19 pm

        Yes Zuzy…..I think you’ve diagnosed all my ills…..fancy running round here to mop my fevered brow…????

        Bring a whippet or twain, fish and chips, deep fried mars bars and some beer…..I’ll get me clogs ‘n put some coal on the fire.

  13. crouchback said,

    June 23, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Goat…..Goat……Paddy McGintys Goat……is what I meant to say.

  14. CU said,

    June 23, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    The CU is not bank-rolling Catholic Voices – they are administering money from other sources – quite a difference.

    • Res Miranda said,

      June 23, 2010 at 8:54 pm

      And who are these sources?

      • Paul Priest said,

        June 23, 2010 at 10:33 pm

        …and if you’re not willing to tell us ; surely you are obliged to inform your Ordinary from whom you derive your apostolic executive mandate? And out of courtesy the office of the Normative Ordinary – i.e. His Holiness ?

        Surely if these people have been given the name ‘Catholic’ under His Grace’s and His Holiness’ auspices – each has a right to know by whom Catholic Voices is being funded ; and whether these individuals/organizations are known friend or foe ?

        Admittedly with the media-record of Mr Valerian and I’ve-reigh-ally-not-researched-this-issue ; one might think the most obvious secret benefactor was the National Secular Society ; but they’re not that cunning; and I doubt anyone would have predicted how bad the chuckle brothers would be.

  15. Zuzy Creamcheese said,

    June 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    And why have Catholic Voices, leave alone the rest of the world, any right to know by whom they are funded?

    Since when did the leadership of the Catholic Church any respect for abstract human rights?

    Jeez you’ll be talking about democratic accountability in the Catholic communion next!

  16. Paul Priest said,

    June 24, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Sorry – my ambiguous English Zuzy – I didn’t mean the individuals in Catholic Voices needed to know by whom they were funded ; But the Archbishop and Pope DO ; as CV via the CU has the executive mandate solely at the discretion of the Ordinary to be a ‘Catholic’ organisation.

    …and please : The notion of abstract Human ‘rights’ is a fantasy; one need only refer to the feminist-composed ‘rights of the foetus’ – to be born wanted, to live a life free of long-term emotional stress or physical pain, to be born into a safe, economically and socially sustainable life-paradigm etc – all default excuses towards justifying abortions to all those who aren’t born perfect into an ideal world .

    Why do you think Jesus – and you can’t deny that as an ethicist he was bloody hot…brought in the notion of rights – but the dignity due to one’s neighbour; and the ethical ideals to which the individual and society should aspire – the ‘rights’ are a default of the ‘treated with dignity’ – therefore you can’t abuse the ‘rights’ by reverse induction and treat the individual with contempt while simultaneously appealing to their human rights – unlike the population control freak or the scoundrel eugenicist who will use every appeal to human rights in the book; while denying the respect and dignity due to a human being [think the definition of personhood in the realm of ethics - the mandate to euthanise and eugenicise!]

    The dignity of man – inherent within the Corporal [Mtt 25] and Spiritual works of mercy and the Sermon on the Mount [Mtt 5-8]
    Not only that while the world was hacking itself to bits the Church adamantly maintained at the Church councils of Arles, Quiercy, Nancy, Valencia & Trent that it is IMPOSSIBLE for any individual to lose their dignity as a human and thereofre they must be treated accordingly – as someone in the image of God.

    Where do you think universal health care, universal education , alms for the poor/ disabled/ disenfranchised originated ? ever heard of monasticism ?

    …and if you’re appealing to modern democracy might one ask if you know who invented the principles of modern democracy?
    One St Robert Bellarmine
    Don’t believe me ?

    http://onthesideoftheangels.blogspot.com/2007/11/enemies-of-democracy-as-if-real.html

    …when it comes to accountability – our perspective is very different from mere doxic opinion of the polis [aristotle] but as a zoon nouon echoon – a living entity – an embodied soul – with duties and responsibilities to God and neighbour. During their lifetimes a cleric is judged on how he exacts his apostolic duties afforded him by his bishop [and yes, the majority of bishops do not give two flying fiddlers for exacting this guidance or support or scrutiny and discernment ; but it is supposed to be there!] . But in the life to come , as St John of the Cross & Chesterton remind us – we’ll be judged on how much we loved and on whose side we were on – the dark or the light.

    …if our suspicions are correct regarding the whole set up of the papal visit – there are many within the Catholic hierarchy and the professional laity who should feel compelled to ask just how much have they sold-out their God, their Church and their Pope !?

    • Paul Priest said,

      June 24, 2010 at 8:48 pm

      This example kind of proves my point…

    • Zuzy Creamcheese said,

      June 25, 2010 at 12:12 pm

      Zuzy Creamcheese is not English but is a polysexual internationalist!

      I have some sympathies with your view that abstract rights are fantasy. Indeed ‘rights’ are always and must always be cncrete as they are historical specific. That is to say under the slave mode of production it was one mans ‘right’ to take another in slavery. Today such a right is anathema but one does have the ‘right’ to sell ones labour power to whomever one wishes. Which is a legal fantasy under the ConDemn regime!

      To take up another of your points I can in fact dispute your assertion that jesus was an ethicist. Of course your Jesus was an ethicist but I find that their is a lack of evidence as to who and what the historical Jesus was to make a call on this.

      As for your point about democracy I find it entertaining and it is an interesting reflection on the role of Catholic thinkers in the evolution of democratic forms. But it is marginal at best to the evolution of democratic thinking and practice. Old conservative that I am I cannot but help adhere to that more traditional theory that democracy was an invention of the Greek city states.

      With regard to democracy it too is an abstract concept and requires further development. For like rights democracy is a historically specific concept and means different things to different classes at different times. For example the rising bourgeoisie, with its cant about equal rights, fought for a vote for every man (the bourgeoisie was ever sexist) and for unicameral legislatures. But for the working class the workers council form is more apprpriate guaranteeing, as it must, that democracy is not simply confined to voting for a ‘representative’ but is a living thing permeating daily life. As CLR James wrote “Every cook can govern”.

      Accountability to one fellows is something I think that the workers council system embodies for all citizens and accountability to any other body or to a deus ex machina is for individuals to decide upon. But yes i too suspect that the visit to britain of your Pope has been organised to benefit what our American cousins call ‘interest groups’.

  17. birkenstock said,

    June 24, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Sorry, came late to this party. Just one comment for Dr Ivereigh – there’s nothing wrong with being working-class, period. No further qualification required. Quite unbelievable pomposity.

  18. birkenstock said,

    June 24, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Oh, and one more thing: CU isn’t administering the money for Catholic Voices, that’s total tosh. What sort of creative book-keeping is this? Jack Valero needs to say very clearly where the money has come from, where the money has been spent and where future appearance fees, though the odd outing on Premier Christian Radio doesn’t smack of a media strategy to me, will be invested. Transparency rather than obfuscation is required.

    • Res Miranda said,

      June 24, 2010 at 11:33 pm

      Birkenstock is right: where is the money raised (£37,500?) being spent? Could Dr Ivereigh enlighten us? Is he giving his services entirely gratis?

  19. Heavens to Betsy said,

    June 25, 2010 at 12:56 am

    Dr Ivereigh. Like Dr John Reid.

    Ha ha.

    Dr Ivereigh is very pompous for a such a little man.

    I bet he takes viagra to make himself taller.

    • birkenstock said,

      June 25, 2010 at 7:10 am

      Well, he’s a poor advert for viagra’s lengthening propensities. Touch of the Napoleons, I fear.

    • Res Miranda said,

      June 25, 2010 at 7:45 am

      I just choked on my tea.

  20. birkenstock said,

    June 25, 2010 at 7:54 am

    It’s a bit early for Thought for the Day.


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