Nollaig Shona Duit – Happy Christmas

December 25, 2009

Aled Jones made the pertinent observation – take CHRIST out of Christmas and you are left with M&S.

It is usual to wish people a Merry Christmas, which can mean festive joyfulness with cheerful and lively behaviour. Unfortunately our modern society seems to think that being merry equates with excessive drinking. Happiness is also equated with materialism and unnecessary consumption. Greed and self-indulgent behaviour have resulted in yet another economic and financial crisis.

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Confused or What?

December 24, 2009

On 16th September 2009 the Bishop of Down and Connor (Noel Treanor) made a presentation to the Irish Parliament as the representative of the Irish Bishops’ Conference to COMECE, having served for 20 years in Brussels. He said that, “Confidence in ourselves as a people and in our capacity to mould and shape Europe – rather than fear or suspicion – should mark our fundamental attitude to Europe”. “A Catholic can, without reserve and good conscience, vote Yes for the LT as there are no grounds to justify a No vote on the basis of religious or ethical concerns”. “The LT does not alter the legal position on abortion in Ireland”. Making reference to the guarantees obtained, “these represent a welcome and significant clarification of the already existing safeguards in the relationships between the competences of the EU institutions and national sovereignty on important ethical issues”. In support of his presentation he quoted Pope Benedict:

“If, after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, certain excessive hopes were disappointed, and on some points justified criticisms can be raised about certain European institutions, the process of unification remains a most significant achievement which has brought about a period of unwonted peace to this continent, formerly consumed by constant conflicts and fatal fratricidal wars. For the countries of central and eastern Europe in particular, participating in this process is a further incentive to the consolidation of freedom, the constitutional state and democracy within their borders. I am sure that God will bless the generous efforts of all who, in a spirit of service, work to build a common European home where every cultural, social and political contribution is directed towards the common good. To you, already involved in different ways in this important human and evangelical undertaking, I express my support and most fervent encouragement.”

Later in September, during the Pope’s visit to the Czech Republic, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, warned that the EU threatens countries’ traditions and identity. “Individual European countries have their own identity. The EU prescribes its laws or views to them and they do not have to fit with their traditions and history. Some countries are logically resisting this – for example Ireland”. The Irish Bishops then warned against using the LT to undermine the fundamental principle of subsidiarity. Their official statement contrasted sharply with the remarks of Bishop Treanor.

Bishop Treanor also spoke at the launch of ‘Christians for Europe’, suggesting that the No side fell into three categories – the misguided, the manipulated and the dishonest. As to grounds such as economic or political considerations, it was a matter of prudent political judgement for each individual based on informed and accurate assessment of all of the issues involved. Accuracy was essential and the moral claim on all involved in the debate encompasses the duty to provide accurate information and to avoid provoking unfounded fears through misinformation. This applied not just to the contents of the LT but also the way in which the debate’s conducted and the accuracy with which the EU institutions are presented. Cautioned against those who would seek to influence the outcome either by offering misleading or patently incorrect information. Evidence that that there are a number of publications and organisations who are intent once again on influencing the Referendum by introducing misleading or inaccurate information, including that the LT would undermine existing legal protection in Ireland for the unborn children, and emphasised that no organisation actively lobbying in the current campaign using either print or other media speaks on behalf of the Catholic Church. This was a thinly veiled attack on Alive and Coir. He placed a lot of reliance on Article 17 of the LT and the regular dialogue provided with Churches and faith communities. Rejection of the LT might jeopardise that. Clearly the COMECE view.

The concern of the laity has surfaced again this month. The counter view to Bishop Treanor was expressed in a letter to Ireland’s Eye from Margaret Herriott of Nenagh. “Even though Church teachings, as handed down from the apostles, are there ‘yesterday, today and forever’, there seems to be some considerable leeway exercised by bishops nowadays as to the interpretation of the code of Church practices in moral and spiritual doctrines of the faith. Following their support for the LT prior to the referendum on Oct’ 2nd, I wonder have they any idea what they were really recommending to the laity? One very serious example is the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is attached to the LT, wherein is enshrined by law the Convention on the elimination of discrimination against women. Under this the European Court of Justice could overrule our Supreme Court if a case is brought against Article 40.3.3 [Irish Constitution protection of the unborn] and for a woman’s right to choose. The Irish Government could be forced to introduce legislation to allow for abortion. In fact all family law is under serious danger under this Treaty and the Charter of Rights, as is our education system as well as freedom of religion, and much more besides. We should ask how long will it be until the EU insists on the removal of mention of the Holy Trinity and God in the preamble to our Irish Constitution? Our cardinals and bishops and politicians have sold us out to an anti-Christian Godless regime, which gives an elite, unelected group total control over the lives of millions of innocent and unaware Europeans.”

Even in the corridors of power across the EU it has started to dawn that foreign ministers and heads of state signed the Treaty without reading it and without working out the consequences.

Not with a bang but a whimper

December 1, 2009

Even now the EU Constitutional project, that has struggled over the last few years and will come to fruition today, the 1st December, is beginning the start of its disintegration. The machinations of the last two months following the Irish referendum result reveal everything that is wrong with an EU, dominated by a political elite and directed by a France-German axis. Objections to the Lisbon Treaty identified by the NO campaigners in Ireland and dismissed as dishonest will be subject to the test of time. As each of those issues come to a head and are revealed to prove the warnings to be right, it will not just be a matter of saying “we told you so”.

Research conducted after the Referendum showed that voters who had previously voted No and switched to vote Yes were not really in support of the Lisbon Treaty, but switched due to a sense of economic vulnerability. Only 17% of the Yes voters thought that the treaty was good for the EU. Suprisingly the 18-24 year old age group were the biggest supporters of the No campaign. Although the No Campaigns, especially Coir, fought a magnificent campaign they were the victims of a bias that favoured the Yes campaigns. RTE provided more coverage for the Yes Campaign and the European Commission interfered illegally. The Yes campaigns were able to massively outspend the No campaigns with Dublin buses carrying advertisements for a Yes vote and Ryanair had one of their planes repainted with a Yes vote livery. Despite this the deciding factor was fear arising from the consequences of the collapse of the Irish economy.

Immediately following the announcement of the result pressure was exerted by the European Commission on the Polish President to ratify the Treaty, which he did within a week. Then it was the turn of the Czech President to be pressured; Vaclav Klaus held out for a month and only signed after the Czech Constitutional Court decided that the Treaty did not violate the Czech Constitution and he received guarantees that the Czechs would obtain an opt out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. It was the Germans who created this last obstacle by raising the prospect that Germans expelled from the Sudetenland might be able to reclaim their lost lands under the Charter. This then prompted the Slovakians and the Hungarians to raise similar concerns but they were bought off with Declarations that gave them some comfort. As the clocked ticked towards midnight Aland, the autonomous Finnish Island, ratified the Lisbon Treaty. In the last week of November their parliament voted 24 to 6 in favour. All the i’s were dotted and the t’s crossed.

Vaclav Klaus opposition was based on the Treaty giving too much power to Brussels and the need to safeguard the sovereignty of the Czech judiciary. This was amply demonstrated by the extent of pressure and interference by the European Commission in the internal constitutional processes in Poland and the Czech Republic. French and German politicians, especially Sarkozy, were making inflammatory statements that bordered on threats and their diplomats were making direct approaches to government officials and the Czech judiciary. The only thing missing was the mobilisation of panzer tanks on the Czech border.

By contrast, the statutory provisions introduced by the German Parliament mean that the German Constitutional Court can override decisions of the European Court of Justice. This has not been agreed with the other twenty-six Member States. The Lisbon Treaty is not being implemented as intended as the Heads of Member States have realised belatedly that their own power is threatened. The new post of EU Foreign Secretary has been the subject of a tussle for control between the EU Council and the EP. It has now been downgraded to the status of a European Commissioner, albeit a Vice-President, with resulting accountability to the EP. There are many vice-presidents of the European Commission, which gives the President of the Commission the ability to dispense favours in return for support. Perhaps the worst example is the way the provision in the Treaty that was intended to reduce the number of Commissioners has been used instead to ensure that every Member State has a Commissioner. Behind the scenes France and Germany have agreed to agree policies and vote as one to ensure control of the EU institutions and the placement of their nominees.

The European Parliament elections in June have shown that people are disengaged from EU institutions over which they have no control and cannot influence. The Big Blue Machine just continues to roll on regardless. However, there are signs of resistance. The Lithuanian Parliament has rejected the vote in the EP against their ban on promoting homosexuality as an infringement of their sovereignty. They are taking steps to have it annulled and make sure that the EP does not in future exceed their legitimate remit.

In the European Council sphere attempts to introduce abortion as a right have been quashed and the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to ban the display of the Crucifix in Italian schools is being challenged and derided. This follows on from the same ruling in Spain. Similar rulings in Romania have been challenged and overturned. The popular response will not be a violent revolution or even a velvet revolution. People will just stop taking notice and ignore EC Directives and Court decisions. Civil disobedience will be so widespread that the machinery of government will grind to a halt. The EU will deflate like a big balloon.

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