I KNOW that there’s other stuff going on this week, but surely a pope making jokes about being poisoned because there is financial corruption in the Vatican deserves a bit more than a throwaway down-page story in The Times.
A well-informed Catholic friend of mine commented on the story that “Pope Francis doesn’t bother wearing a mask because he knows that Covid is not the greatest threat to him.” When I think about the fuss over the death of John Paul I, supposedly poisoned, but who actually died of overwork, I wonder whether everything this century has not been overturned, so that what was once farce repeats itself as tragedy.
QANON, though, manages to be both farce and tragedy simultaneously. Archbishop Viganò has published his latest letter addressed to President Trump. It is worth remembering that 24 US Catholic bishops supported Viganò publicly when he first attacked Pope Francis two years ago.
Now, he writes: “This historical moment sees the forces of Evil aligned in a battle without quarter against the forces of Good; forces of Evil that appear powerful and organized as they oppose the children of Light, who are disoriented and disorganized, abandoned by their temporal and spiritual leaders.
“A global plan called the Great Reset is under way. . . The purpose . . . is the imposition of a health dictatorship aiming at the imposition of liberticidal measures, hidden behind tempting promises of ensuring a universal income and cancelling individual debt.
“The price of these concessions from the International Monetary Fund will be the renunciation of private property and adherence to a program of vaccination against Covid-19 and Covid-21 promoted by Bill Gates with the collaboration of the main pharmaceutical groups.
“It is you, dear President, who are ‘the one who opposes’ the deep state, the final assault of the children of darkness.
“Your adversary is also our adversary: it is the Enemy of the human race, He who is ‘a murderer from the beginning’ (Jn 8:44).” And so on.
By the time you read this, you may know whether the forces of evil have triumphed in the US election.
THE best writing about the situation in France came from my former Independent colleague John Lichfield, writing in The Local. “Who said this? ‘Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided.’
“Clue: he was speaking just after Charlie Hebdo magazine published its first cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2006.
“His name was Jacques Chirac. He was, at the time, the President of the French Republic.
“Why is it now impossible for any French political leader to say, as Chirac did in 2006, that it is not a good idea to ‘hurt the convictions’ of people of faith?
“The answer is partly that the drawings have been consecrated in blood as symbols of France’s commitment to freedom of expression and its status as a secular Republic. They have become (paradoxically) secular, religious symbols — far beyond their intrinsic worth as either drawings or jokes.”
He was writing before the most recent atrocity in Nice, which can only have hardened hearts on both sides still further. I am myself disconcerted by the blank declaration by the Minister of the Interior that France is at war with violent jihadists.
This unease is not because he lied. It’s obvious that France is, in fact, at war, to the extent that a state can be at war with something that is not a state. But is it wise to say so, and will it alienate the allies you need to win? There were very good reasons for the British Government to proclaim that it was not at war with the IRA, even while it set the army to defeat them.
EVEN if it is unwise to announce that you are at war with a terrorist group, it is at least realistic, in a way that announcing you’re at war with a virus couldn’t be. But the rhetoric that was once directed at the EU is now being turned by the same sort of people against the coronavirus, and by much the same people. In both cases, the magical belief is the same: that, by imitating the posture of a Churchill, a true leader can make all obstacles vanish. It is like blaming disease on lack of faith.
Here is Richard Littlejohn in the Mail: “So much for Churchill Reincarnate. If this was 1940, Boris would be cowering in his bunker beneath Horse Guards Parade and waving the white flag. As the bombs rained down, he’d order the population to stay indoors, huddled under the stairs or in flimsy, back-garden, corrugated iron Anderson shelters, and stand down The Few to ‘Protect the RAF’.”
This is entirely crazy, on an almost Viganesque scale. But I think that it will have more influence on the Government than the sober interventions from Archbishops. All they are asking for is a chance to pray. It’s so much less exciting than the demand for miracles.