Letter sent by Blessed Gregory X to Blessed John of Vercelli, Master General of the Order of Preachers


Gregory, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God, to our very dear son, the Master General of the Order of Preachers, salutation and apostolic benediction.

Recently, during the Council held at Lyons, we deemed it a useful commendation to exhort the faithful to enter the house of God with humility and devotion, and to conduct themselves while there in a becoming manner, so as to merit the divine favour and at the same time to give edification. We have also judged it proper to persuade the faithful to demonstrate more reverence for that name above all names, the only name in which we claim salvation- the name of Jesus Christ, Who has redeemed us from the bondage of sin. Consequently, in view of obeying that apostolic precept, in the Name of Jesus let every knee be bent; we wish that at the Holy Sacrifice, every one would bow his head in token that interiorly he bends the knee of his heart.

Wherefore, my very dear son, we, by our apostolic authority, exhort and enjoin upon you and the brothers of your Order to use solid reason in preaching to the people, that they may be led to comply with our desires. Thus you will win the crown of justice in the day of recompense.

Given at Lyons, on the twelfth Calendes of October, third year of our Pontificate.

Is the United Kingdom a legitimate state? I should argue that it is not, since 17th July 2013. This was the day when the queen gave royal assent to the ‘Same-Sex Marriage Bill’. This act of parliament is in fact, even if not in the explicit intention of all the legislators, a rejection of the very notion of marriage and therefore of the family. They have denied not just a property of marriage, as happened with the introduction of divorce, but the very essence of marriage. They have replaced marriage by something else which is not marriage – since it can be entered into by two people of the same sex – while keeping the name of marriage. It is exactly as if the local council were to send round a man with a bull-dozer to knock down your house and replace it with a full-size cardboard model of a house, and then tell you that it was the same thing.

They have rejected marriage. In rejecting marriage they have also rejected the family, since the family is marriage with its fruitfulness.

But “the family is the original cell (cellula) of social life” (CCC 2207). I take this to mean that according to natural law, the family is both anterior in its rights to society and the place in which a child is trained to live in society.

So those who claim power over the land mass of Great Britain and northern Ireland have rejected the very institution in which the State is rooted and by which it endures. It is as if a bishop were to deny the existence of baptism; or as if a doctor were to deny that nature and art have any power to heal; or as if a professor were to deny that the young can learn or remember truth. Or since by ancient metaphor we speak of the ship of State, it as if a pilot were to deny that men can build a craft able to carry them over the waves.

What should we naturally say in such cases? I think we should say, not that the bishop was necessarily deposed from his see, the professor from his chair, or the doctor or pilot from their guild; this would seem to be the task of some higher authority to accomplish; but rather, that they no longer had the right actually to govern those hitherto subject to their authority. The bishop who denied baptism would have no right to move his presbyters from place to place; the doctor who denied that sickness can be healed would have no right to order his apprentices to serve him; the professor would have no right to be listened to with attention while he lectured; the pilot could no longer legitimately command his crew. For after the depositions had duly taken place, no one would blame the priests, apprentices, students and sailors for ignoring the bidding of their former superiors.

Likewise those who deny the family, and enforce this denial by the policeman and the gaol, have no right to govern any men and women among whom they live. Elizabeth II may still be the queen, David Cameron her prime minister, and members of parliament still members of parliament (for the pope has not deposed them) but they have no right to legislate or govern. That is what I mean by saying that the United Kingdom has not been a legitimate state for two years, one month and six days.



‘In earliest childhood we had played,

Where Jesmond’s limpid waters glide ;

In Jesmond’s sacred chapel prayed

Before the altar side by side.’


A few years ago I had to visit a notary in Edinburgh. While we sorted out the business in hand we got to chatting about the impact of the Scottish Parliament upon the Scottish Legal System. She was very gloomy about what was happening to Scottish law. For centuries, she explained, when some Bill produced in Westminster was readied for Parliament it would be handed over to the Scottish lawyers. After the Union of 1707 the Scottish Legal System remained autonomous and distinct from the Legal systems of England (and post 1801 Ireland). The lawyers of Scotland would adapt Westminster legislation to ensure it fitted in seamlessly with the law of Scotland. Since devolution this system has collapsed. The devolved administrations, particularly the SNP, feel that their actions are ipso facto authentically Scottish and so take very little care to ensure they work in harmony with the logic of the Scottish legal tradition. Now there are reports that, under the SNP, Scotland’s education system is now going the same was as its legal system. 


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