BRITISH NATIONALISM - A Catholic Perspective
VANGUARD is primarily a secular political magazine, which does not seek to promote any particular religious creed. However religion is scarcely a phenomenon we can ignore, since it clearly inflences people's political views - as recent events in Eastern Europe have shown. The opinions expressed in the following article are those of its author, Hugh Francis, but VANGUARD is happy to publish them in the interest of free debate. Reader's reactions, and a defence of British Nationalism from other religious perspectives would be of interest.
MOST PATRIOTS rightly deplore the materialistic mentality prevalent in modern Britain and contend that one of the most pressing needs of our country is the restoration of spiritual values to the place that they formerly occupied in our society. In this article I propose to outline why I believe that all the spiritual values we need are enshrined for us in Christianity, without the need (as so many appear to feel today) of going in search of various gurus and bizarre Eastern meditation techniques for enlightenment.
Few will deny the colossal contribution that Christianity has made to Western Civilisation; and that the disintegration of social life and the sense of a 'lack of purpose', both at the personal and national level, are due in large part to the progressive dechristianisation of society. In my view, a political party that values Britain's cultural heritage and that desires a restoration of healthy, well-ordered national life, must defend the Christian values that have acted as a unifying force in our society in the past, and not just pay lip-service to them.
This, of course, does not detract from the right of the party to determine its own policies in all political and secular matters and does not in any way turn the party into a quasi-religious organisation. It only means that the political party recognises that there is a basic framework of moral laws which must be respected and which are ignored at our peril.
What is this 'moral law' which should guide us, and where do we find it? Man, in his deliberate and free acts, knows that he must do good and avoid evil. He recognises an order in things that he is bound to conserve and forbidden to disturb. He knows that certain things, such as rape and murder, are, always and absolutely, wrong. In other words, all men, however much they may dislike the fact, know unmistakably that their activities are subject to a law.
Man can disobey this law (unlike a physical law, such as the existence of gravity, which is imposed on us), but he cannot disregard it. This is what is meant by the 'moral' or 'natural law' and the principal way in which it is known is by our conscience, which tells us what is right and wrong in a particular situation. Such a law can only logically come from a being who has the intelligence to frame it and the right to impose it, i.e. God Himself. The moral law is given to men by God, not in order to restrict our lives with a series of prohibitions, but, on the contrary, so that we can realise our full dignity as human beings and attain the purpose for which we were created.
The moral law is like the manufacturer's manual that comes with a new car: observing its contents will enable us to get the best out of the car, ignoring it is likely to bring the car to a premature and sticky end. Exactly the same holds for national life: a nation that legislates acts that are contrary to the moral law may appear to prosper for a time, but in the long term will become corrupt and disintegrate (as is happening in our country today).
God has not left us to rely on our conscience alone in order to know the moral law. He has spelled it out for us in the Ten Commandments and then in the teachings of Christ Himself, recorded in the Gospels. Finally (and, as a Catholic, I make no apology for saying this) He has established the Teaching Office (Magisterium) of the Roman Catholic Church to expound the moral law in all the different situations in which humanity finds itself down through the centuries. It is not possible to justify this statement fully within the confines of a short article like this, but I would ask the reader to consider these questions:-
Who is it in Britain today that defends the fundamental moral values that govern personal and family life? Is it the Tory Party, who despite all their protestations of being pro-family, have presided over the passing of legislation which can allow abortion up to birth and the creation, use and destruction of human embryos for 'medical research'?
Is it the Church of England, which condones homosexuality and appears totally indifferent to the collape of family life in this country?
One certainly does not expect much, and has not received much, from the British Council of Churches, who are too preoccupied with Apartheid and the canonisation of black African terrorists to have time for issues nearer home.
The fact of the matter is that the only body which takes any sort of consistent stand on moral issues is the Catholic Church. Unlike other organisations, it does not change its teaching to suit prevailing public opinion, and this has often put it at the receiving end of a lot of hostile opposition in recent years. Witness the deplorable episode when a crowd of homosexuals staged an obscene demonstration and committed sacrilege in the Catholic Cathedral of New York, because the Cardinal upheld the traditional Catholic teaching that homosexuality is a grave moral disorder.
I would emphasise here that I am speaking of the official teaching of the Catholic Church, that comes to us through the bishops from the Pope, and not of the pronouncements of various 'Catholic' committees or individual priests, whose thinking is often throughly tainted by fashionable liberal and outdated Marxist values.
It is important to clarify at this stage a common misconception. The Catholic Church proclaims a particular set of moral values or laws because they are true in themselves and have always been so, long before the Church ever existed. They do not become true merely because the Church proclaims them. Hence the absurdity of the idea of the Pope dreaming up various ideas over his breakfast in the Vatican and then promulgating them as infallible truths.
My contention is that a political party should, in the formulation of its policies, at all times observe moral law and draw on the rich fund of moral teaching to be found in the Sacred Scripture and authentically interpreted and taught by the Catholic Church. This will not only guarantee success in the long term, but will also prevent some of the extremist views which plague Nationalist parties from time to time. It will also ensure that the party holds the right policies for the right reasons.
For example, to be against abortion in this country because it represents a threat to the future of our race is an excellent reason for being anti-abortion. However it should not be the primary reason, which is that abortion is an attack on innocent and defenceless human life, and is therefore wrong, irrespective of the race of the child. Similarly, opposition to the concept of a multi-racial society should not be based of the hatred of other races (any form of race hated would be totally incompatible with Christian principles), but on the love of one's own race and the belief that different races have the right to pursue their own way of life separately in the lands where they belong.
At this point, the legitimate objection might be raised that since the Sixteenth century we have been a Protestant country, so why should a British nationalist party rely on Catholic teaching? I would say here that until just a few decades ago, fundamental moral norms such as the sanctity of marriage, the importance of family life, the protection of human life from the moment of conception and the illicit nature of homosexual acts were held in common by all the major Christian denominations and that it is only in recent years that many of these denominations have compromised on their former teaching.
Furthermore the moral teaching of the Catholic Church is meant to enable every person (and therefore nation) to lead a genuinely fulfilling and well-ordered life and is not intended for Catholics alone (unlike fish on Fridays or the obligation to assist at Sunday Mass).
"Most of the mainstream nationalist parties in Europe - eg the French NF - strongly support traditional Catholic teaching in moral matters" - Jean Marie Le Pen celebrates success at an FN rally.
By way of conclusion, it cannot have escaped the reader's notice that most of the mainstream nationalist parties in Europe (e.g. the French National Front, the German Republicans and the new parties in the Baltic Republics) strongly support traditional Catholic teaching in moral matters. The Roman Catholic Church is no enemy of nationalism (of the defensive rather than the aggressive kind) and indeed has provided the inspiration behind some remarkable recent nationalist movements such as in the Ukraine.
St. Thomas Aquinas taught that, after our parents, we owe the highest obligation in this world to our country, because it is our parents and country who together form us. The love of our homeland and countrymen, so long as it does not become a substitute for the love of God, is natural and wholesome. Surely an active and proud Christian patriotism is the best way forward for our country and continent.