Dear Mr Tatchell,

I write to you in no spirit of antagonism, but rather as one who is compelled by the Revelation of Jesus Christ which I have received, and of which as a Theologian of His Church I am the servant and the Guardian. You have pursued, with a degree of importunity which, were it not tragically misdirected, I would regard as an admirable, what you suppose to be an ethical imperative. It has, I have learned, earned you the new-fangled title of ‘human rights activist’. With others you tenaciously opposed the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the country of which I am a native born son, and you an antipodean interloper.

You will grant that I am as bound by the imperatives of the gospel as you by a notion of human rights and freedoms. That imperative impels me to require you to consider whether or not your fervour, in its supposed altruism, is not tainted with a degree of self-interest and self-will. To consider, in fact, whether you seek freedom to do not what you ought to do (which is the freedom of true humanity), but what you want to do (which is mere enslavement to whim and appetite).

You have accused a man of irreproachable integrity, the wisest occupant of his exalted office in recent history, with complicity in things for which he has a natural and deep-seated revulsion. And in my own case your partisans have cast a slur upon my capacity for disinterested friendship which I will not dignify with a response. These are accusations which are the fruit of petulance and anger; not of a concern for Truth or the common good.

I pray for you even now, for I know that even now your fervour, directed aright, could yet serve the purposes of the God who will be your Judge and the people whom he won at the price of his own Blood,

I remain, Sir, be assured, your most humble servant; but Christ’s first,

John Henry Newman