Current Affairs

It’s All A Wee Bit Dan Brown

I’ve written before on the labyrinthine world of politically active Roman Catholic lay organisations, in particular the ones which attract members from various political parties around the European Union and beyond. Fine Gael’s own Gay Mitchell, former presidential hopeful, is something of a poster-boy for the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, an influential if publicity-shy grouping that works within the European Parliament to promote “Christian values” (Mitchell strongly denies any membership of the group). Among its “patrons” are or were several high profile figures from the Continent’s old aristocratic families, not to mention a fair sprinkling of the nouveau bureaucratic elite that now fill the corridors of Brussels and Strasbourg.

In Ireland the Dignitatis Humanae has it equivalent in the Iona Institute, a similarly shadowy organisation that few in the Irish media have shown any inclination to investigate fully. Now Brock The Robber has had a brief internet rummage and it makes for interesting reading. No mention of our old friend Alveda “God hates homosexuality” King though.

Gay Mitchell, Alvida King, Enda Kenny
Gay Mitchell, Alvida King, Enda Kenny

2 comments on “It’s All A Wee Bit Dan Brown

  1. isn’t otto von hapsburg the chap that stood up to Paisley when the DUP firebrand attempted to disrupt the Popes speech in the European Parliament circa 1988?


    • Indeed so. Depending on what reports you believe he shouted down Paisley in mid-flow, tackled him along with others and physically ejected him from the chamber or actually punched him out.

      In either case I found him a rather worrying symbol of an old order Pax Europa that has found new life in the European Union. From a eulogy featured on Inside the Vatican:

      At 94, the “uncrowned emperor” and visionary architect of a reunified Europe carries on a thousand-year legacy of Catholic political leadership

      The past and future of Europe have hovered as a haunting subtext beneath all the headlines of 2006. Even as the global encounter with the Islamic world has claimed center stage, the very specter of clashing Christian and Moslem civilizations brings the mind back to Europe — a Europe seemingly in full flight from its Christian heritage just as it stands on the brink of achieving the peace and unity that had eluded it for so many centuries. Europe the cradle of Christendom, where Christianity has become politically incorrect. Europe that stopped Islamic invasions at Tours and Lepanto and Vienna, but where now in some of its countries “Mohammed” is the single most popular name registered for newborn boys. Europe the 21st century’s amnesiac lost child, bent on demographic suicide yet somehow still hearkening to its unique destiny as the heart of Christian civilization.

      If the “problem of Europe” weighs heavily on the heart of this Bavarian pope, no one man better personifies a truly Catholic response to it than does Dr. Otto von Habsburg, heir of the last great Catholic monarchy and visionary architect of today’s expanding European Union. His decades of public service in the political arena exemplify the best in Europe’s Christian past and its hopes for a peaceful, united and still Christian future.

      Born to a 700-year-old imperial dynasty, the present-day head of the House of Habsburg has, in his own way, taken up the same mantle of responsibility borne by the Austrian emperors, and the Holy Roman Emperors before them, without benefit of any of the office’s perks or powers.

      Probably most identified with Dr. von Habsburg is the staggering achievement of European unity in our lifetime after a century of warfare and Cold War polarization. No one has done more to bring about the new Europe, or to manifest it in his own person. A citizen of at least four nations, an orator who switches effortlessly between German, French, Hungarian and other languages, with descendants and extended family members in more countries than one could count, his allegiance goes beyond any national boundary. He himself has recalled as an epiphany the day he first spontaneously answered the nationality question with “I am a European.”

      The man who would become “Mr. Europe” began life as the son and heir of the last emperor-king of the Austro-Hungarian Empire — the recently beatified Karl of the House of Austria — who had inherited the thrones of the Dual Monarchy as World War I raged. Crown-prince Otto as a four-year-old cut a memorable figure in plumed hat and court attire when Emperor Karl was crowned as King of Hungary — the last formal coronation and anointing of a Catholic monarch, for which Hungary has just celebrated the 90th anniversary this December 30th.”

      As I said, a wee bit Dan Brown.


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