IT seems to me that only a person who has led a very sheltered life would call for unity among the Christian churches. When Cardinal Hume said recently that the divisions in Christendom were "a scandal", and that the Catholic Church must now be committed to unity, I wondered if he had any inkling of what it was like to sit in a grotty pub in the Shankill Road and listen to the deep, abiding and fundamental repugnace of Rome held by ordinary Protestants.
Their unshakeable suspicion is that words about "unity" are nothing but a sly Romish takeover bid; their gut-instinct is against any ritual which even smacks of "Popishness". Loftier folk may dismiss such sentiments as mere bigotry, but that is how life is down in the grass roots.
In England — as opposed to Northern Ireland — antiCatholic feelings have diminished and modified, but that is largely because people are more inclined to be indifferent to religion. And it would not be a feature among the educated classes anyway. But it is still there: every Catholic journalist gets abusive letters from the general public pointing out that Catholics are pagans, idolators, backward and conspirators against the Bible.
Calling for "unity" gives such folk dangerous paranoia. The difficult Christian task, I would say, is to maintain a perfect tolerance and understanding, without stimulating their loathing by talk of takeover bids, as they would see it; and as unity would be, in their eyes, since the Pope is not up for negotiation, and ordinary Catholics would be rightly scandalised by any demotion of the BVM.
But wait a minute. Such odd things are happening within the churches today that weird realignments are taking place. Some Catholics would negotiate the Pope away; the Americans have given the thumbs down to infallibility and have shown open rebellion on sexuality. Progressive Catholics candidly loathe the present Pope for his "reactionary" views. Whereas some Protestants, paradoxically, see him as the last beacon of Christian morality in a world gone daft with gay lib and the church blessing of third marriages (as the Unitarian church does).
What seems to be happening is a right-left split in all the churches: all the churches divide between progressives and conservatives. Thus conservative Catholics have more in common with the conservative Anglican such as the Bishop of London than in the trendier Catholic clerics involved with Liberation Theology, regarded as protoMarxism. And conservative Anglicans jolly well think they have more in common with the Pope than with the Archbishop of York. Ditto for liberals on each side, providing you change the names.
The true, staunch, traditional Catholic would actually feel more at home under the pastoral care of the Chief Rabbi, the gentle but unyielding patriarch Sir Immanuel Jacobovits.
"Condoms?" he says. "It is only giving people the means to misbehave! Let them hark at the Ten Commandments if they want to cure AIDS!".
No one proclaims the theology of Natural Law straighter than Sir Immanuel, and his Catholic admirers are now legion. But I don't know where that leaves Christian unity.
Truth on Aids
AND speaking of AIDS, it is instructive to observe that out of the first 1000 British victims of the terrible disease, 981 are men, the vast majority homosexual men.
All AIDS patients are to be pitied, but I must say I resent the way in which women have been slandered in the anti-AIDS campaign. Because the Government is so terrified of the gay lobby, so timid about being accused of homophobia, it has strained to be even-handed in its implication that AIDS can be caught by any sexual contact.
But that is just not true in Europe or America (the African epidemic is out on its own). In our part of the world, AIDS is predominantly a disease of sodomy, with a strong secondary link with drug abuse. Speaking such a mater-of-fact truth is regarded as "offensive", so women have to be blamed equally with men.
In that "compassionate" TV AIDS play, starring Claire Bloom and Daniel Massey, the man is made to say "this is something I picked up from some dirty little slag in New York". Far more likely that he picked it up at a gay bath-house in California, but that won't do; you dare not offend the gays, so you had better accuse women instead.
Proclaiming that AIDS is equally liable to be transmitted by heterosexual intercourse as by buggery is untruthful and dangerous; by casting the net too wide, the campaign misses the target group. VD clinics are now inundated with requests for testing by heterosexual people who have been unwise or immoral — and wasting thousands upon thousands of pounds showing negative tests, because the authorities will not come out with the simple truth that "non-druggie" heterosexuals very seldom contract AIDS.
THE DIGGER starts on October 14 — it is the new investigative magazine designed to give Private Eye a little stimulating competition. The Eve has a very firm grip on younger readers, for its satirical content, but it has lost its touch where real radical investigation is concerned. There is room on the market, anyway, for both publications.
Nigel Dempster — the doyen of gossip columnists, scion of the Daily Mail — always maintains that both gossip columns and investigative magazines are a moral force in society.
Occasionally, he says a view shared by Richard lngrams, I think — people are restrained from misbehaving by the simple thought that they might be found out and featured in the public prints.
When someone accused Private Eye of "sending children home from school in tears" (when they read in the Eye of their parents' naughty ways) Ingrams — and Dempster — responded that the parents ought not to be doing the wrong thing in the first place. Don't blame the messenger for the message.
I doubt that The Digger will home in on personal peccadilloes so much: business, finance and
Government corruption will be more its style. I hope it will take on the other big battallions in the establishment too: the BBC, the trade unions, the civil service, the local authority bureaucrats, the nomenklatura of the educational establishments who run schools for the convenience of their own plans rather than in the children's interests.
The Digger's publisher is John Mulcahy, a maverick Irishman who successfully ran Hibernia as a radical fortnightly, launched the Dublin quality paper, The Sunday Tribune, and started the Irish satirical mag, The Phoenix. He and his wife Nuala have seven children, all wonderful-looking creatures with brains and personality.
Nuala Mulcahy, at the age of 56, has recently completed her first year as a student at Trinity College Dublin, where she did well in her exams on classical antiquity. "She's very clever and we're very proud of her," says her son Jack. An encouragement to all mothers of large and lively families — there is intellectual fulfillment after children.
AT a Human Life conference in Edinburgh recently, the American Sinologist Steven Mosher gave a most devastating talk about forced abortion and infanticide in China, where he has lived.
China's one-child policy is extremely coercive. Married women must attend a monthly meeting with the Women's Federation of the Chinese Communist Party to report that they have menstruated; they must get permission to have a "legal" baby; if they become pregnant without authorisation, they are forced into an abortion. If they hide the pregnancy until the last moment, the baby is killed at birth (by an injection of formaldehyde through the soft tissue in the cranium). The West is highly complacent about this aspect of Chinese life; relations with China are good and who wants to upset the apple cart? There is also an element of racism, Steven Mosher agrees — we want Asiatics to control their population because it might be very daunting for us if they outnumber us. However, the way Chinese life is going because of the one-child policy might be infinitely more dangerous; selective abortion and infanticide is producing a preponderence of little boys. All of these little boys have two parents, and four grandparents doting on them — but no cousins or siblings to provide the natural disciplines of family life. This is the perfect recipe for producing a race of Hitlers and Mussolinis (both spoiled brats as children, significantly). Delinquents too The whole philosophy of population coercion is inextricably linked with the utilitarian and coercive politics of Communism. "Just as we can plan the number of bicycles," a Chinese official told Mosher, "so we can plan the number of people." Of course it doesn't work — the one outstanding feature of all Communist societies is that central planning is a hopeless failure, leave alone the repulsive equating of human beings with commodities.
Steven Mosher said he had no particular views about abortion before he went to China. But after seeing the suffering of the women and the callous disrespect for human life involved, he is now a committed antiabortionist.
His outspoken reports on China embarrassed Stamford University, which was cultivating its links with Peking (or Bei-jing as it is now called).
Efforts were made to shut him up and his PhD was withheld. "Imagine if I had gone to South Africa and reported on coercive abortion towards black women. . . . We do have double standards about principles."