It was amusing when Fr. Richard Whinder stood up to welcome our guest speaker, Jacob Rees-Mogg, at the latest meeting of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy -given that the two look so alike. Thank goodness one wore dog-collar and the other a tie else we might not have told them apart!
Mr. Rees-Mogg proved a considered and engaging speaker. He gave an address rich in praise for the Catholic faith in which he vocalised genuine desire that clerics would learn to be bolder in taking a spiritual lead within the nation. For he believes our nation is not as militantly atheistic and secular as the media would have us believe but that most British people retain a deep seated respect for their Christian heritage. Furthermore a strong spiritual and moral leadership is needed at present.
Mr. Rees-Mogg also gave sound advice warning clergy to steer clear of political meddling. If we are outspoken on subjective matters relating solely to political policy, not objective truth relating to the next life, the danger is we can be mistaken and lose credibility to speak on God’s behalf. Though clearly some political matters touch on moral and ethical questions becoming spiritual matters too.
I agree- there is nothing as disappointing to authentic Christian witness as that cleric, especially if it is a bishop, who remains silent on matters like abortion but vocal on populist political causes like the environment. Yet such clergy, who are short on supernatural faith but strong on political theory, seem two a penny today. And, of course, it is equally lamentable when politicians do the same in the opposite direction- failing to get public policy right whilst stepping into the religious domain by instructing us on how we should think and believe. Let priests be priests and politicians be politicians!
There were plenty of other interesting points but it is not my place to share the details of private talks in a public forum. So let me share instead how I was struck by Mr. Rees- Mogg’s integrity. Whatever your party political views, if you are a Christian JRM deserves your prayers and support. He is a man of deep personal faith whose passion for the family, the church and pro-life causes is vital in the current political landscape. Indeed we must pray for Christian politicians of all shades and parties as they walk a difficult path at present. We need them to represent our faith.