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(回答先: シオニストGuardian：ご指摘、ありがとうございます。ついでに・・・。 投稿者 バルセロナより愛を込めて 日時 2005 年 1 月 29 日 07:19:31)
Why Ruth Kelly's faith and her politics cannot be separated
OPUS DEI? Ruth Kelly? The Da Vinci Code? The Secretary of State for Education?
Of all the stories one could not have predicted to hover around the fringes of the news in early 2005 as the new Labour Government approached re-election, the association between a rather brilliant new education secretary and what the newspapers characterise as a shadowy cadre of elite Roman Catholic ultras certainly takes the biscuit. What next? Will Peter Hain, the Leader of the House, be found to be a former member of South Africa’s white-supremacist Broederbond? Will the Lord Chancellor be exposed as a Freemason, or the Children’s Minister as a Satanist?
And much of the reporting, Ruth Kelly must feel, has been unfair. Opus Dei, it is true, can be linked to many in the Francoist Establishment in 20th-century Spain; but some of its members opposed Franco bravely. And so far as they were a political force at all in Madrid, they were in many ways a modernising influence — nothing like the sinister and murderous organisation depicted in The Da Vinci Code, a work of pure fiction. Opus Dei in Spain consisted of clever and clubable achievers, not secret torturers.
Nor are they today. There is no fairminded reason for the Education Secretary to feel embarrassed about her association with Opus Dei in 21st-century Britain. Though elements of secretiveness have always surrounded the organisation, its members (like the Freemasons) are respectable people who intend through associating together and subscribing to their organisation’s guiding principles, to be a force for good.
Though Opus Dei’s instincts have consistently been for authority, continuity and order, they are not mindless reactionaries. These men and women are distinguished by intellect and achievement. The network does not impose judgments on its members; it has no blueprint or secret plan for history, just a set of shared convictions; and Ms Kelly may reasonably feel that she has no need to distance herself either from contemporary Opus Dei, or even from its past.
All the same, I think that in yanking her quite so violently from obscurity to power, the Prime Minister may be taking more of a risk than he realises. And I suspect that Ms Kelly understands this better than he does.
The success of The Da Vinci Code has been phenomenal. Senior politicians tend to let the tidal flows of popular culture slosh around rather beneath their notice, but this fundamentally silly but vastly engaging book has taken the Western world by storm. Rocketing sales may be evidence of more than its readability and gripping story. I wonder whether our era of relative godlessness may have brought with it a new susceptibility towards cults, supersititions and conspiracy-theories of every kind. Headlines about Ms Kelly and The Da Vinci Code chime with a public mood: people whisper of secret conclaves and a hidden hand in the affairs of state.
How should Ms Kelly dispel these anxieties? An excellent start was made — and then disowned. We do not know who it was who spread the rumours at the time of her promotion, but we must now assume it cannot have been Ms Kelly, because she has categorically denied them.
It was said she had told the Prime Minister that there were certain ministerial posts she would feel unable to accept because they would involve a clash, or the appearance of a clash, with her religious beliefs. The rumours mentioned Health and International Development, because of Catholic beliefs about abortion and contraception.
When I read these rumours I gave a silent cheer. At last — a politician with the integrity and intellect to understand what Rocco Buttiglione (the EU Commissioner-designate whom the European Parliament threw out) failed to see: there are real conflicts between some Christian, Muslim and Judaic beliefs, and the mainstream of secular modern European politics.
Some years ago, as Times parliamentary sketchwriter reporting a Commons debate on stem-cell research, I offended a number of religious readers by suggesting that just as we require MPs to declare any financial interest which might touch legislation passing through the House, so we should require MPs whose religious affiliation touched a topic of debate to declare that affiliation. A stake in the future of one’s immortal soul strikes me as having at least as much potential to affect one’s judgment as, say, a stake in the financial results of a pharmaceutical company involved in stem-cell research. Both should be declared, I said.
I was serious. I still believe it. If an MP makes an impassioned speech on the ease with which medical research can proceed without using fertilised human eggs, I think we deserve to know whether he or she is a Catholic. A conviction that stem-cell research is wicked in the eyes of God may have influenced his or her judgment. It may not have done so, of course, just as share ownership may not prejudice an MP’s view of legislation touching the value of the shares. The point about declaration is that is allows us to weigh for ourselves the MP’s judgment, in light of what we know about his interests. If the MP feels that his judgment may then be seen in a poor light, he can absent themselves altogether from the debate.
So ‘Good for you, Ruth!’, I thought when I read that there were ministerial posts she would avoid. She had understood that her faith would devalue her credibility in these areas; or bring her into conflict with her own Government’s policies.
It was disappointing, then, when Ms Kelly denied that she had ruled herself out of any ministerial job on religious grounds. Instead she is anchoring her position in the time-honoured — and thoroughly dubious — assertion that she knows how to distinguish between faith and politics. Ms Kelly insisted in an interview with the Daily Mirror that her faith was a private matter which had nothing to do with her job. “I have a private spiritual life and I have a faith. It is a private spiritual life and I don’t think it is relevant to my job,” she said.
What? That is wholly inconsistent not just with the whole drift of Opus Dei’s work, but with Christ’s teaching. Of course one’s faith, and the moral code anchored in it, is relevant to one’s job. It is impossible to read the Gospels in any other way. Would Ms Kelly serve in a Cabinet legislating for the slaughter of the firstborn on the ground that her own views of right and wrong were private? If now she is to serve in a Cabinet which tolerates the slaughter of what she believes to be the “unborn child”, how can she possibly say she could occupy a ministerial post in the department responsible because her faith would not be “relevant” to her job?
She has rejected a suggestion that her religious beliefs could affect the way she carries out her role in government in relation to sex education. How so? Does a believer not believe religion has lessons in this area? And, more importantly, at a time when the status of “faith” schools is a vexed question, can Ms Kelly really stay dispassionate in the tussle between those who do and those who do not believe that the State — and the taxpayer — should be sponsoring faith-based education?
I admire Opus Dei and I admire Ruth Kelly’s refusal to dissociate herself from the organisation. But if there is a single belief which breathes clearly through all Opus Dei’s short history it is that God, faith, work and the world are all one. The worry is not that some big cheese in Opus Dei is telling the Education Secretary what to do. Opus Dei is not like that. The worry is that Ms Kelly thinks her God is telling her what to do, for that is what she ought to think if her faith is sincere. She should stay with Opus Dei and stay in politics. But the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs would have been a wiser posting.
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