Tuesday, 11 February 2014

On Your... Eminence!

"Marx" is not a name to associate immediately with a Prince of the Catholic Church, yet Cardinal Reinhard Marx it is seen here with Catherine Pepinster, editor of The Tablet: he was talking in Oxford this evening.

The Archbishop of Munich, one of Pope Francis' "C8", and a heavy hitter in every sense, was giving the 2014 Newman Lecture, his theme “A Certain Idea of Europe”: I was glad to have been there. Not just for the substance, but for the reassurance of seeing that there's at least one very human presence besides Pope Francis in the top echelons of the Church - someone with an internationalist outlook, able to communicate 99% effectively in a foreign language (if not more than one), sporting not a vestige of scarlet but what looked like designer stubble, and referencing - his only mention of an American - Philip Roth, for goodness' sake.

Europe, the Cardinal said, was in pole position to dominate the year's headlines, not just being in the news, but making the news. The commemoration of the centenary of the beginning of World War 1 was as important as the elections to the European Parliament this May. "All the soldiers who fought in the terrible civil war of Europe were baptised and had learned the 10 Commandments. This history is not over, but very present... Europe is still in the making."

Peace and security are two sides of the same coin, he stressed, paying tribute to the EEC/EU for providing us with a secure peace for longer than his own lifetime.

I buy the Cardinal's idea that only the Church can bring the Gospel to society, and what indeed is the future of mankind without the Gospel? As he stressed, he isn't a politician, but I'm glad there are such as he intent to "inspire the European project with the voice of the Gospel" (another Marx-ism), and to urge all of us in the rich West to learn a culture of restraint.

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