A few days ago Pope Francis visited the island that gave its name to the ‘L’ in LGBT. His Holiness could have taken this opportunity to reaffirm the Church’s position on sexual morality.
That chance went missing though. Instead the pontiff picked 12 Muslim refugees out of the thousands huddled on Lesbos and took them home to the Vatican. The Holy See will pay for their upkeep until they get ‘a new life’, as the grateful migrants put it. The refugees hailed the Pope as ‘a saviour’, stopping short of calling him ‘the Saviour’, that term not being part of their religious lexicon.
This was supposed to be an act of Christian mercy, and so it could have been had any private individual done it. When done by a hugely influential public figure, this one-man salvation trick strikes me as an ill-advised publicity stunt.
“All refugees are children of God,” said the Pope, which is true. Yet currently over a million such children are cooped up in Europe, having arrived there illegally. Millions more will doubtless arrive soon.
Moreover, I’d suggest that at least two billion people in the world would like to settle in Europe, and a good proportion of those must be hatching plans for doing so. How many of them should we encourage? How many should Europe welcome? All of them?
According to our Chancellor’s calculations, three million will have arrived in Britain by 2030. Though he didn’t say so in as many words, probably most of them will be Muslims. Germany and France, those unwavering champions of the free movement of people, are likely each to receive a similar number.
And we aren’t even talking yet about the 75 million Turks brought into the Schengen Agreement as a bribe for not sending even more Muslims to Lesbos. How many of them will grace us with their arrival? I’d suggest six zeroes at least, more likely seven – this on top of the 40 million Muslims living in Europe already.
Does His Holiness think this is a good thing? Does he want Europe to be inundated with people who not only aren’t part of our civilisation but hate it cordially? Does he want Europe to become a caliphate, a goal to which many migrants are explicitly and doctrinally committed? Does he want more Europeans to fall victim to terrorist acts, which at least 10 per cent of the new arrivals are trained to perpetrate?
His gesture, admitted the Pope magnanimously, is only “a drop in the ocean”, but he hoped that as a result “the ocean will never be the same again”. His hope is my fear. The ocean may “never be the same again” because its waters will be poisoned.
When Jesus showed mercy, for example to the woman taken in adultery, it was partly to make a point. In that case, the point was that laws must be leavened with mercy because all of us are sinners who should never forget the difference between righteousness and self-righteousness.
What point was Pope Francis making? He is, after all, heir to the throne first occupied by one of Jesus’s most prominent disciples.
I’d humbly suggest that the Vatican’s first aim should be to guard, protect and spread Christianity. Therefore its first responsibility ought to be to protect the secular realm that historically fosters Christian faith.
Does His Holiness seriously think that either desideratum will be best served by implanting new Islamic saplings into the soil already contaminated by atheism?
If he does, then his action is laudable. But those of us who think differently fear that such stunts will further undermine the moral authority of the Church at a time when it could do with some bolstering.
Yesterday, for example, I put forth a completely secular argument against abortion because, I wrote, non-Christians wouldn’t accept one based on the moral authority of the Church. But then I wondered, why not?
When all is said and done, moral authority, as opposed to moral sense, must be outside us to have any value universally recognised and deferred to – to have any practical value, in other words. Now even atheists, provided they’re intelligent atheists, must realise that restoring the Church to her historical role of moral arbiter would have a resuscitating effect on society.
Whence else would a universal authority come? The Equalities Commission? LGBT publications? Environmental crusaders? The government, God forbid?
The first step in this mental process is to recognise the need for a universal, unifying moral authority. The second step is to realise that, in the West, only the Church can act in that capacity.
And the third step is to lament that, by performing perverse publicity tricks to indulge his leftward inclinations, the Vicar of Christ squanders even more of the moral capital accumulated by the Church since the time Francis’s job was done by Peter.