Catholic MP engages with protestors on visit to Cardiff
When Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg stepped out of his car at St David’s Metropolitan Cathedral to deliver a talk on ‘Faith in the Future’, he was greeted by a crowd of mainly hostile protestors.
They had taken umbrage on a number of issues including the MP’s stand against abortion and had organised a protest before his talk at Cornerstone.
But Mr Rees-Mogg calmly walked over to the banner-waving crowd and spoke to them in his courteous and diplomatic manner for several minutes before moving into Cornerstone to give a lecture to 150 people followed by a lively question and answer session after a welcoming address by Archbishop George.
The MP gave his thanks to all religious for their service to the laity and thanked the Archbishop for his welcome; they had known each other when Archbishop George was a bishop at Westminster.
Mr Rees-Mogg talked on the subject of faith in public life which he said was “not a new issue” and had been in existence for hundreds of years.
“When it comes to the Reformation the secular power had become more authoritative than that of faith,” he said, taking the historic example of the 1302AD Bull by Pope Boniface VIII which said that the Church had predominance over the secular world.
Secular powers found that the break with Rome increased their influence with faith being a matter for the state and in Great Britain the laws against Catholicism along with the martyrdoms.
“From around 1980 you get the feeling that faith is slightly alien to the political world with the state taking issues on moral grounds and strict party policy,” Mr Rees-Mogg added, going on to referring to faith being somewhat isolated unless it fell in with political correctness.
He said that the secular world responded well to Pope Francis and absolutely adored him but still disagreed with Catholic policy on the sanctity of life. “It is wonderful how Pope Francis has gained this warmth, despite the fact that he has not changed one iota of Catholic teaching.”
The MP also referred to the criticism he had faced over his strict line on abortion, opposing it particularly in cases of rape victims. His opinions and beliefs were seen by critics as deluded and he found that this intolerance destroyed freedom of speech.
He continued this argument for freedom of the press and made the point that he was one of the few MPs voting against legislation, adding that a muzzled press led to political wrongs being hidden. He said that he refused to be bullied into complying with political correctness which conflicted with his deep faith, as had happened after the broadcast interview he made when he made quite clear what his views on abortion were.
His office received a massive amount or correspondence after the interview and he told the audience: “I had letters saying that although the writers disagreed with what I had been saying, they supported my right to do so. This was very encouraging.”
He referred to his engagement with the protestors who greeted him before his talk and was encouraged by the fact that some of them wanted to engage with him and his views but most just wanted to shout.
Mr Rees-Mogg said he stood up for his faith but did not pretend to think that he spoke with the authority of the Church. That was not his role.
At the conclusion of his speech he engaged with the audience in a lively question and answer session.
Images credit: Dr. James Campbell & Lucy King