14 March 2014


Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn, 2nd Viscount Stansgate, Westminster and New College, died this morning. He was fiercely proud of his family and intellectual roots in the English radical dissenting Protestant tradition; I do not know the state of his soul when he died, but I pray that he may find mercy.

Sadly, like so many on the Left, he came to assume the murderous logic of extending 'rights' to the choices of women who did not wish to bear their unborn children ... how easily the Evil One, and with what skill, can pervert what is good to his own ends. But I will still think of Wedgie for his long-time service to some of the most deeply moral causes in British politics during my own lifetime. Like another politician, one on quite the opposite political extreme, Enoch Powell, he came to see the wrongness of the 'Nuclear Deterrence' policy, which is a monstrous evil still with us. How admirable it would be if this Sovereign Pontiff were to take up that moral issue with the theological seriousness of the Traditionalist Moral Theology, based on the Church's teaching about the conditions for a Just War, espoused by Germain Grisez and his collaborators.

And, like Powell (whose speech after the British colonial Hola massacre in Kenya is one of the all-time classics of English Oratory), he was an early critic of colonial racist cruelty. He opposed NATO ... another abidingly toxic problem today, as Western Interests, forgetful that Russia has reasons, based upon centuries of experience, for fearing expansionism from the West, do their best to edge the boundaries of NATO ever closer to Moskow, indifferent to the instabilities which this policy involves. Here again are problems which, please God, this Pontificate may at last have the courage to address; and the sooner, the better. And Wedgie was an opponent of the policy of successive British Governments of traipsing round the World on the coat-tails of various invariably disastrous American military adventures.

Wedgie lost every significant political battle that he ever fought. But, as we listen to each News Bulletin on our wirelesses, who dares say that his victorious enemies were right?

1 comment:

Adrian F Sunman said...

Dear Fr

As someone whose natural political sympathies lie broadly to the right of Attila the Hun, I can't honestly that I ever agreed with much that Mr Benn said. However I think it's fair to say that he was one of a dying breed of conviction politicans who are unafraid to nail their colours to the mast and say what they think rather than what they imagine will get them re-elected. We can at least remember him for that, whatever our views.

The 1967 Abortion Act was, I believe, the initiative of a Liberal politician, a certain Mr Steele if I'm not mistaken. Whilst I disagree with the sort of "abortion on demand" that it has lead to and feel that abortions should only be allowed in very limited circumstances, it's better that the law mercifully allows something to be done in hospital which was once the province of the back street and, because it was illegally undertaken, was often highly dangerous.