Great Britain

Another attack on Catholic politician

Wlodzimierz Redzioch talks to Giuseppe Corigliano about the attack on Ruth Kelly, Catholic Secretary of State for Education and Skills in the British government of Tony Blair.

Those who observe the political scene in Europe hold that there are many free masons in the EU institutions but nobody raises the alarm that these people can serve better shady interests of their lodges than act in Europe's interest. Today politicians and state officials can officially declare to be homosexuals, fighting for their rights, and nobody can object to that because of the rules of 'political correctness'. Nobody would dare to raise an objection that a Jewish politician has special connections with Israel (Raymond Aron, French Jew, historian and philosopher, claimed openly that people could not demand any Jew to be objective as far as Israel is concerned). Whereas 'being Catholic' in the world of the European politics is a sufficient reason for discrimination. A Catholic who is faithful to the teaching of the Church finds it difficult to act as a politician because people see him/her as conservative and limited by his/her religious 'dogmas', and sometimes even as 'an agent of the Vatican'. The best example is Prof. Rocco Buttiglione who was declared to be inappropriate candidate for the EU commissioner, and recently, the attacks on the British minister Ruth Kelly.

In December 2004, due to some changes in the British government, Ruth Kelly, 36 year-old woman from Northern Ireland, was appointed as Secretary of State for Education and Skills. Kelly is not a politician. She studied economics at the famous London School of Economics, and then she worked on The Guardian as an economics writer. She has borne four children, but her motherly duties did not prevent her from starting political activities. At first she was a deputy of the Labour Party, then she worked at HM Treasury and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister. The brilliant career of Ruth Kelly shows her extraordinary talents and great professional skills. However, this did not prevent her from fierce attacks. According to her critics her fault was that she belonged to the 'mysterious' organisation Opus Dei and her 'conservative Catholicism' (she goes to Mass almost every day, and her opinions concerning euthanasia, abortion and research on embryo cells reflect the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church). The anti-Catholic and anti-Pope attitudes in Britain, in spite of the ecumenical dialogue and considerable secularisation of the society, are still vivid, particularly in Northern Ireland where Ruth Kelly comes from. I asked Guiseppe Corigliano, Opus Dei spokesman, to give his comments on the attacks on the Catholic minister.

Wlodzimierz Redzioch: - While I was reading the articles attacking Ruth Kelly I had in mind the book by Prof. Philip Jenkins, entitled 'The New Anti-Catholicism. The last acceptable prejudice', Oxford University Press. What does it mean?

Giuseppe Corigliano: - This is really a strange situation. The right to fundamental liberty, i.e. religious freedom, is questioned in the contemporary world. It was very strange that, while people are demanding every freedom, there should be discussion over the most fundamental liberty: freedom of religion. This concerns Catholics in the first place. It is alarming that in the world, which is supposed to be free of class, racial and religious prejudices, people are not judged by their professional activities but by their religious faith.

- Sociologists have stated that most Americans did not get to know ancient history from historical books but from Hollywood films. Today people, who never read manuals, learn history by 'swallowing' (as the letters to the editors of best-sellers say) novels that are full of perversions and historical lies, for example 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels and Demons' by Dan Brown. Brown's books have especially contributed to create 'black' myths about the Church and they also present Opus Dei in a negative light...

- Dan Brown's book is really an example of slander, tolerated in the name of freedom of speech. The author writes about Opus Dei as a 'mysterious' and 'dark' organisation. The Opus Dei Prelature can be 'mysterious' only to somebody who does not want to be informed. There are so many websites, historical and popular books about Opus Dei that one can boldly claim that our Prelature is the most media exposed institution of the Catholic Church. Moreover, in the whole world, including England, our apostolic activities have been well known.

- Some critics of the Church claim that they attack the Church in order to fight against clericalism. Can we call Opus Dei 'a clerical institution'?

- One should stress that the message of St Escriva de Balaguera is of an especially secular character. He taught that Opus Dei should help people to hold an intense and personal relationship with God without entering into anyone's professional or political choices, giving them freedom just as every believer in the Catholic Church is free. Opus Dei emphasizes, basically and fundamentally, the free and independent initiative of every human being, and consequently it makes everyone 'resistant' to clerical mentality, which intersperses politics with religion. Thus one should not fear 'integristic' behaviour of those who are spiritually formed by Opus Dei.

- Thank you very much for the conversation.

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