Quote of the week (so far)…

So far as I know it is still in the realm of speculation, but newly minted fan of Splintered Sunrise, Damian Thompson has this to say on the rumour that Ann Widdecombe is to be the next UK ambassador to the Vatican:

A former Telegraph colleague of mine thought she was a jolly good thing until he sat next to her at a formal dinner and she alternately blanked him and lectured him. Now, actually, she is a jolly good thing, but she’s also the rudest Catholic convert since Evelyn Waugh. [emphasis added]

PS, Last we heard from Ann she’d bought a house in Dartmoor and was planning to write more novels…

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  • fin

    Nice to see the establishment has gotten over appointing Catholics as ambassadors to the Holy See, two in a row if its true

  • Mick Fealty

    Yes, but is it a good idea? I’ve another piece to blog on the behaviour of the Vatican over the Belgian state’s investigation into child abuse. Can a devout Catholic have the nerve to tell Benedict where his writ does and does not run? Widdecombe certainly has the character, but may not have the inclination for such a disagreeable aspect of the job.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Widdicombe of course joined the Catholic Church around the same time as John Selwyn Gummer as a protest against women being ordained in the C of E.
    Its a sad reflection on the fact that the legacy of Pope John Paul II has been the almost total disappearnace of “liberal Catholicism”.
    Sometime around the end of the 1980s during presumably an abortion crisis…..the parish priest of a County Kildare village was reported in the Irish Times as saying that “its impossible to be liberal AND Catholic”.
    In many ways he was right….

    For regular Irish visitors to England, there is actually TWO Catholic Churches. The “peasant” church (Polish, Irish etc) and the “English” church……as handed down thru Elizabethan recusant tradition or “Jacobite” tradition.

    With many of the London churches formerly “embassy” chapels…..Maiden Lane off the Strand for example. Or the Bavarian (previously Portuguese Embassy church) in Warwick Street, Piccadilly.
    The latter has a plaque to “legitimate” King of England, Scotland and Ireland who died in 1955. King Robert/Rupert ………ah those Jacobites havent gone away you know.
    The rather odd thing is that these people see Republicanism as Satanic…the first “republican action” ever being Satan challenging God.
    Oddly this is not seen as correct by people in Kilburn.
    Because the Irish Church is essentially the legacy of a peasant Church, the “English” Church is or should be very broad.
    But the convention is that the peasant types stay away from the recusant/Jacobite churches and the recusant/Jacobite types stay away from “ethnic” Catholic Churches.
    Oddly the exception is the afore-mentioned Warwick Street Church which ministers to Londons, gay, lesbian and transexual Catholics……much to the chagrin of Jacobites.

    These two peasant and recusant traditions in English Catholicism would be undermined by Widdicombes appointment as Ambassador. No doubt she and her apologists would see Widdicombe in the tradition of Catholic conversion in the style of Newman ( a favourite of Pope Benedict).
    They are of course wrong.
    Newmans conversion was essentially a religious experience.
    Widdicome, Selwyn-Gummer and the rest are more motivated by politics/culture.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    A rather old fashioned Whig argument.
    In 1960, opponents of John F Kennedy were peddling the same line.
    Can a devout Catholic (and JFK had some distinctly non devout attitudes) be a President of the United States.
    Most reasonable people would call that attitude Bigotry.
    If a Right Wing American in his audience suggested Obama was a “muslim” she was honourably slapped down by John McCain.

    When a no mark Orange Order District Master makes a speech that he wouldnt have one about the place, we call it Bigotry.
    When Polly Toynbe or a liberal commentator suggests Des Browne, John Reid or Ruth Kelly are incapable of doing a job in cabinet because of their Catholicism, we are supposed to think it different from right wing anti Catholicism.

    Sad to see so called Liberals go down the road to Bigotry.

  • Greenflag

    Hamlet knew where to send her 😉


    ‘f thou dost marry, I’ll give thee this plague for
    thy dowry: be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as
    snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a
    nunnery, go: farewell. Or, if thou wilt needs
    marry, marry a fool; for wise men know well enough
    what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery, go,
    and quickly too. Farewell.

  • Mick Fealty

    YOU’ve seen the Belgian story then?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes Mr Fealty….Ive seen the Belgian story.
    YOUve seen the American, Norn Iron and English stories then?

  • Greenflag

    ‘The rather odd thing is that these people see Republicanism as Satanic…’

    So too did the Irish Brigade fighting for the Bourbons and God and those who fought for the Habsburgs .

    ‘the first “republican action” ever being Satan challenging God.

    And the second was Eve taking a bite out of the apple th’oul bitch and thus consigning mankind to a life of toil and pain and eventual death in the hope of rising again mar dhea .

    Tell us another porkie then eh Benny ?

    The Irish Church in Ireland was a peasant Church now it’s mostly an empty church with the average priest age being in the late 60’s -and very few if any recruits . To admit to being interested in becoming a priest in Ireland in 2010 is almost the same as admitting one wants to commit to a future as a pimp or prostitute or con artist .

    The RC Church Hierarchy in Ireland have always been anti republican and anti democratic . From the mid 1700’s the heirarchy became increasingly pro monarchy and by 1800 they were pro Union . Like some of the Ulster Presbyterians they were ‘bought ‘ out by English largesse following the ‘traumatic’ loss of the American colony in 1776 and the 98 rebellion and the ever constant danger of French republicanism and it’s progressive views of liberty equality and fraternity .

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    In stating that some see Republicanism as a Satanic cult I wasof course referring to believers in monarchy and legitimacy and of course I was ridiculing their stance.
    The Irish Brigades in C17th France, Spain and Austria were not of course fighting Republicanism. The era of Republicanism in Europe effectively begins in 1789.
    At that time there were three remaining “Irish regts” in the French Army.
    Dillons was re-organised as the 87th Infantry in 1795.
    Berwicks 159th Brigade in 1794
    Roths as the 58th Brigade 1796.
    All in the French Republic,
    Of course by this stage the “Irish” nature of the Brigades had been diluted. But it will of course be noted that some fought in the American Revolution.
    Of course the exact nature of the relationship between the Irish Brigades and their notionally Jacobite allegiances is a matter of dispute between “Jacobites” who despise Irish nationalism and Irish nationalists.
    And much learned work has been done on the subject.
    “Greenflag” is obviously an avid follower of the work of O’Ciardhas work so I wont labour the point.
    A more obvious anti-republican line among the Irish regiments would be the Papal Brigade against Garibaldi.
    But you cant really be anti-republican before it (mostly) exists.
    There is a good argument for saying that the Republic of Ireland effectively installed the Catholic Church as a de facto monarchy and did not press the primacy of the Republic as much as it should have.
    The Catholic Church in Ireland was of course hostile to Republicanism from 1789 and reached a compromise with the British state, whicheffectively brought about a partial end to the penal laws and the building of Maynooth in 1795.
    But post Act of Union the Church believed its rights better protected in an Irish state.

    The point I make is that anti Catholic bigotry appears to me to be no more palatable when spouted by a “liberal” than when it is spouted by an Orange Order type bigot.

  • Greenflag

    ‘The era of Republicanism in Europe effectively begins in 1789.’

    That would have been the French Revolution . However republican ideals were held by many in Europe prior to the French revolution . There were even groups of United Englishmen and Scotsmen who were anti monarchical from the mid 18th century

    Here’s an excerpt on some early Dutch Republicanism as just one example .

    Anti-monarchism became far more strident in the Dutch Republic during and after the Eighty Years’ War, which began in 1568. This anti-monarchism was less political philosophy and more propagandizing with most of the anti-monarchist works appearing in the form of widely distributed pamphlets. Over time this evolved into a systematic critique of monarchies written by men such as Johan Uytenhage de Mist, Radboud Herman Scheel, Lieven de Beaufort and the brothers Johan and Peter de la Court. These writers saw all monarchies as illegitimate tyrannies that were inherently corrupt. Less an attack on their former overlords these works were more concerned with preventing the position of Stadholder from evolving into a monarchy. This Dutch republicanism also had an important influence on French Huguenots during the Wars of Religion. In the other states of early modern Europe republicanism was more moderate.

    ‘But post Act of Union the Church believed its rights better protected in an Irish state.’

    This is simply not true . The Catholic Church hierarchy condemned the Fenians in the 1865 uprising and from the pulpit sent them all to hell . It was long after the Act of Union and probably not until the very late 19th century that the ‘victorious ‘ Irish hierarchy having vanquished the established Church and dispatched any possible ‘Protestant ‘ threat to the RC Church’s dominant position in Ireland that some elements within the hierarchy started looking at the Church’s position under a Home Rule Irish Government and it’s prospects for advancing it’s position in those circumstances .

    Of course the ‘lower clergy’ being closer to the people were contaminated by some ‘republican’ contact a little earlier but even post Partition the Church was resolutely pro Free State and anti republican or as some might have said anti jacobite . It took De Valera’s “Catholic Constitution for a Catholic people to persuade the Hierarchy that FF could be trusted with safeguarding the church’s ‘control’ over it’s customers sorry flock 🙁

  • Greenflag

    “Greenflag” is obviously an avid follower of the work of O’Ciardhas

    I am ? I won’t belabour the point by admitting I’ve never heard of this O’Ciardhas . Perhaps O’Ciardhas is an avid follower of Greenflag 😉 ?

    If you want to post a link to this O’Ciardhas wonder please do so . Googling O’Ciardhas just produces archeological and family history raimeis . But I did learn it’s the I rish for Carey . What that has to do with anything on the thread is beyond my powers of mental telepathy

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I suspect if you need to google O’Ciardha then you are perhaps not as familiar with the history of the Jacobite era and the Irish Brigades in the 18th century as you believe. Dr Eamonn O’Ciardha has lectured and written extensively on the subject. and his book on “Jacobitism and Ireland… A Fatal Attachment” is available in all good bookshops.

  • Greenflag


    Thanks for the reference . I have heard of th title of O’Ciardha’s book “Fatal Attachment ‘ But I haven’t read it. This past year I have been reading mainly economy based tomes Stiglitz , Krugman ,Phillips , Klein among others and messrs Dawkins , Rubin , Coyne , Ridley etc on evolution and related matters .

    My Irish history is still based on Curtis, Lyons, Foster, Elliot, O’Malley, Geraghty, Litton , Tanner , Patterson , Lee , McCaffrey & Eaton and Robert Kee ( Greenflag ) > I must have missed O’Ciardha but then I’ve mostly been interested in the period 1776 to the present with above average interest in ancient history of these islands and elsewhere from 40,000 BC to circa 900 AD .

    I’ll have a gander at O’Ciardha’s work . Does he bring any new insights into the period that a leaving cert knowledge of the period would not have touched on ?

    Thanks anyway .

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I hesitate to recommend any specific author.
    But Id also recommend that you have a look at the Website of the Jacobite Studies Trust, which provides a very comprehensive guide to books on the Jacobite period.
    As does the Website of the 1745 Association.

  • I too am suprised at this comment. Kennedy’s response, below is worth reading.


    A clever answer and not the “render unto Caesar” respose which might have been expected. In essence if there was a conflict of interest where conscience must prevail then he would resign as president. Perhaps people were more naive then; anyhow it served its purpose.

    But in regard to Widdecombe she could quite simply be sacked, the point does not arise.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Fealty…….did you ever blog that piece on the Vatican and Belgium?