Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don't manipulate Pope's words to justify the Lisbon treaty

The Irish Catholic newspaper has just published a story by Michael Kelly, its deputy editor, entitled "Don't manipulate Church to oppose EU - Pope". The story claims to be a report of the Holy Father's address to the new European Union ambassador to the Holy See. The newspaper claims that "In his first remarks on EU integration since Ireland voted 'yes' to the Lisbon Treaty", Pope Benedict "warned against groups that seek to manipulate Christian values to oppose the European Union (EU)."

Michael Kelly's “report” fails to quote key sections of the Pope's address, namely the Holy Father's reference to
"above all, the indispensable and necessary support for human life from conception to natural death, and for the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman".

After referring to the Christian values as the basis of European civilisation, the Holy Father said:
"[D]o these values not run the risk of being instrumentalized by individuals and pressure groups desirous of furthering particular interests in detriment of an ambitious collective project -- which Europeans expect -- which is concerned with the common good of the inhabitants of the Continent and of the whole world? This risk was perceived and criticized by numerous observers that belong to very different horizons. It is important that Europe not allow its model of civilization to be eroded, bit-by-bit. Its original impulse must not be suffocated by individualism and utilitarianism."

There is absolutely nothing in the Holy Father's words which constitute even a reference to, let alone a criticism of, individuals and groups which campaigned against the Lisbon treaty. If anything, he was referring to the anti-life and anti-family forces "suffocat[ing] by individualism and utilitarianism" European civilisation.

It is precisely the protection of human life and family that motivated, above all, many of those individuals and groups which campaigned against the Lisbon treaty and they did so based on their observation of the cumulative effect of EU legislation in critical areas over a long period, and in the knowledge that Irish Sovereignty would be subject to the new EU superstate to be brought into being by ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Yes, some - but by no means all - pro-life/pro-family opponents of the Lisbon treaty are also opponents of the EU. But in no way was the campaign warning about the anti-life/anti-family impact of EU policies on Ireland and the rest of Europe, motivated by opposition to membership the EU per se despite attempts by the yes forces to present this picture. Nor did it manipulate the Church or Christian values.

This “report” leaves a lot to be desired . The least that should be expected from a Catholic newspaper is that it should quote a papal statement accurately. The Irish Catholic newspaper should not attempt to manipulate the Holy Father's words.