The Vatican is throwing a hissy fit over the fact that the Chinese government has just appointed the head of the Roman Catholic Church in their country without consulting with Rome first.

The last batch of Wikileaks showed, beyond doubt, that the Vatican deliberately tries to influence the domestic policies of nations throughout the world and much of this is done through the offices of their "men" on the ground. Roman catholic bishops throughout the world are working as fifth columnists in whichever country they find themselves in and their loyalty, whatever their nationality, is primarily to the Vatican nation rather than their country of residence. At least, the Pope and his political aides obviously expect it to be.

Really, I can understand the motivation behind China's action. Not only that, I think they are setting a sensible example for the rest of the world to follow. I don't like the idea of governments appointing religious leaders within their own countries without reference to the church concerned and so the Chinese solution to foreign influence under the guise of religion is too extreme for my tastes and, no doubt, all democrats. However, this does not mean that governments should not lay down laws to control political interference in their nation wherever that comes from. If a nation or any other foreign organisation wants to communicate with another nation's politicians it should be done through the diplomatic channels already in place and not by any other means. The Vatican nation is running an intelligence agency in every country it has access to without any fear of diplomatic retaliation. This is wrong.

Of course, the Roman Catholic hierarchy is not the only bunch of foreign politicians interfering in the politics and culture of other countries. In Britain, the loyalty of most Muslims to various foreign religious groupings and individuals has resulted in extreme damage to British culture and our politicians willing to appease and pander to the Islamic community whilst not giving a damn about the inherently peaceful members of other faith traditions, including Christians and atheists. A report in our newspapers today states that our government agencies have had absolutely no impact on the level of anti-British feeling and loyalty to foreign institutions within our Islamic community since the terrorist attacks in London. Muslims, in this respect, are no different to Roman Catholics, they are basically cultural fifth columnists.

But this perversion of religion for political ends exists even closer to home. Throughout the world, national, Anglican churches are being bullied into adopting foreign moralities, doctrine and culture by the Archbishop of Canterbury who appears to have decided that the Pope and the various ayatollahs  have the right idea when it comes to international politics and faith leadership. And morality is, most definitely, a political issue.

So what should the governments of democratic nations do to stop aggressive influence by foreign religionists on domestic politics and society? To me the answer is simple and obvious. They should democratically impose democracy on the situation. Although countries such as the Vatican should still have full diplomatic privileges through their embassies, and religious groupings should have representatives in the same way as the Church of England has "our man at the United Nations," all other officers should be appointed locally. Officers in positions where they are easily able to influence the politics of a nation (for example, in respect of episcopal churches, their bishops and above) should be chosen by secret ballot at whatever level or levels appropriate for each denomination. No doubt, in the case of Roman Catholicism, this would be the domestic bench of bishops. The Church of England would probably continue with its appointment by committee, although this should be democratised by the insistence of secret ballots within the process and more enlightened churches, such as TEC and SEC would continue with their admirable good practice.

Furthermore, foreign religious leaders should be treated the same as foreign political leaders. Should such leaders try to influence the political processes, society or culture of a country other than their own, outside of official diplomatic channels,  then the governments of the country attacked should come down on them like a ton of bricks as they would if a secular foreign power tried it on in the same way.

There is not just one freedom. We have to balance different freedoms against each other. In my opinion, the freedom to enjoy and develop ones own culture unmolested by aggressively promoted foreign cultures should be regarded as a higher freedom than the freedom to blackmail, bribe and bamboozle people that the world's religions currently enjoy.



  1. Wow, MP, what alternative universe do you live in? This hass been going on for ever and will continue. The process is not right or wrong it just is the process. Those who use the process may have “good” or “bad” ends in mind but tr4ying to change this is like “nailing jello to a wall”.

  2. The chances of me changing anything of greater import than my underpants is extremely unlikely. I am basically a writer of entertainments.

  3. The problem with the US law, “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion” is that it necessarily operates in only one direction. Religion talks to people about values they will take to the voting booth. That being so, politicians are going to try to influence religions.

    So when new religions especially theocratic ones like Islam teach their values, democracy is at risk. It is a risk we can afford and indeed must. But ignoring it, or simply assuming it will go away is not the solution. Teaching theocrats that there is a better way is.


  4. I think there is a difference between teaching the faith and doing politics (e.g. “there is only one god” and “kill the infidel” are different, the first teaches, the second commands). Unfortunately the religions of the world don’t want to separate the two.

  5. Don’t sell yourself short, MP. You are shining a light on “the process.” The Vatican’s interference would offend a great many people, but they get away with it because most of us don’t bother paying attention to what’s happening outside of our own garden. The more we all talk about it the less influence they will have.

  6. Thanks, Tom, and, of course, you are right. I have seen too many examples of bloggers changing the world in big and small ways to be able to disagree with you. However, the point I was making to Mister Grumpy-Knickers was that, as my motivation to blog is social, with anything other than that being accidental and a bonus, there is no point in telling me not to bother blogging about something because I can’t change it. If he wants to annoy me he would be a lot more successful if he just accused me of being boring 🙂

  7. Wait! MadPriest wears underpants? And he changes them? Who would’ve thunk it?

    WV: plybrie
    Layered cheese held together by glue?

  8. No, Kevin. Not during any service. I take them off last thing at night and hang them over the fireplace for Santa to put my presents in. Then, in the morning, if I get a new pair as a present, I put them on. otherwise last year’s pants have to do for another twelve months.

  9. “Muslims, in this respect, are no different to Roman Catholics, they are basically cultural fifth columnists.”

    What utter drivel. The Muslim in our congregation couldn’t be more Western, and she comes from and will return to Iran.

    There are Muslims in the Balkans who could not be more Western; Iranians are desperate to throw off the clerical bosses, Indian Muslims have long been moderate.

    You don’t have to and shouldn’t parody the popular press.

  10. IN THIS RESPECT!!!!!!!!!

    For goodness sake, you’re supposed to be the intellectual genius around here. Yet you jumped on your middle class liberal hobby horse quicker than the Daily Mail could write “Send them home!” And without reading the post. I expect such knee jerks reactions from some of my readers but you could do better.

  11. This is why there’s no hope for ever helping them, MP — they’d rather be offended, play clever word games, and play at good guy than actually look at what’s in front of them.

    Enjoy Christmas and wait for the world to go boom. It’s all you can do.