Sir Humphrey (reading from a newspaper): 'The egregious Jim Hacker ...'
Jim: 'Eh? What does egregious mean? Outstanding?.
Sir Humphrey: 'Yes, sort of outstanding.'
I returned home very late on Thursday evening to the kind of news that makes one think one has fallen down the Rabbit Hole and is staring at a Mad Hatter's tea party. The Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (the CES) whose episcopal chairman, Malcolm McMahon OP, was telling us recently that it was unproductive to fight a government with an overwhelming majority - while three of his episcopal brethren were defeating the provisions of the same government's Equality legislation in the High Court - has appointed Greg Pope as its deputy director.
Well, let us not be mean spirited. Congratulations to Mr Pope. One has to think that any job is a move upwards from the increasingly perverse institutions housed at the palace of Westminster. And yet there is a problem. The problem is that Greg Pope has apparently spent large amounts of his time in the legislature voting for laws which represent the very best in anti-Catholic, secular practice. John Smeaton has analysed Pope's record in Parliament in great detail here. And it includes voting for laws or supporting parliamentary motions facilitating some of the following:
* praise for a condom manufacturer for helping schools host “National Condom Week”
* the defeat of an amendment which would have required doctors to provide pregnant mothers with certain information and an offer of counselling before any abortion of an unborn child on grounds of disability
* “Contraceptive Awareness Week”
* the reduction of the homosexual age of consent to 16 (to equalise it with the heterosexual age of consent)
* the defeat of amendments which sought to retain the requirement for doctors to consider the child’s need for a father or male role model before a woman is given fertility treatment.
You can find the dreadful details here. It makes for fascinating reading.
So why might the CES have hired a man like Pope? Well, of course the CES has to lobby on behalf of the Catholic Church in this country with regard to Catholic education. Someone with Pope's experience and contacts would be handy to have, n'est-ce pas? He has been in Parliament for thirteen years after all. I'm glad the CES have recognised their need for such a skilled advocate, since their recent quasi-total aquiescence in the face of proposed government legislation for sex education was proof positive of their incompetence. They came close in fact to collaborating in the pillage of parents' rights by supporting the most weasley ammendment dreamt up by a human jelly fish. And then they attempted to spin this into a victory while the rest of us looked on weeping: we hear almost every other week about yet another Catholic school which prefers to use Channel 4's guide to bonking in its sex-ed classes anyway.
But then isn't that the problem? What the CES needed right now was not a deputy director who could facilitate this kind of suppine resignation to the suppposedly inevitable, but rather one who could pose a genuine, imaginative defence of the principles of Catholic education in the public square. What the CES needs right now is a deputy director so formed by Catholic principles and so adept at the machinery of parliament, that never again will the CES find itself climbing into bed with the most anti-Catholic and immoral legislature to disgrace our country.
Instead of which, we get Greg Pope who in 2007 voted AGAINST a bill would have required practitioners providing contraception or abortion services to a child under the age of 16 to inform his or her parent or guardian. Voted against, i.e., he thought that contraceptive and abortion services should be made available to under-16s without their parents' or guardians' knowledge. This isn't the Rabbit's Hole. It's the Brave New World.
Now, is it possible that Greg Pope has actually had a Road-to-Damascus conversion in the last few months? Is it possible? Entirely possible of course, but that would have had to have been since February 2009 when he signed this early-day motion in favour of Contraceptive Awareness Week. Should we await Pope's conversion story? Or is it that his voting record on Life issues has been so bad, so utterly, mind-bogglingly egregious that he feels duty bound to work for the Catholic cause to repair some of the damage? That is always possible. If we have any incisive Catholic journalists left, perhaps they can put the question to him. And if this is the case, no doubt he will be more than happy to advertise his regret for the work of destruction in which he has so amply participated.
Well, call me a cynic, but I have this nagging feeling that even as we remain open in our judgment to Pope's potential reform, we would probably be safe betting money that never a word will be said to justify this appointment. How just how can such a man, with such a PUBLIC record of opposition to the Church be recruited to represent the interests of Catholic parents in the public square? And since these are all matters of public record, how will the CES defend the appointment of an individual whose practical lobbying skills are of nugatory importance in comparison with his understanding of, and adherence to, the teachings of the Church on Life?
All together now:
I see a clinic full of cynics
Who want to twist the peoples' wrist
They're watching every move we make
We're all included on the list