'You can't reason with them,' says bishop after backlash against Jacob Rees-Mogg

Bishop of Portsmouth Philip Egan has said the backlash against Catholic MP Jacob Rees-Mogg is not surprising because Church critics “lash out” when their beliefs are challenged.

The bishop told the Catholic Herald that Rees-Mogg gave a “wonderful witness on ITV as a Catholic”, while critics who oppose Catholic teaching on chastity can “unwittingly allow the Evil One to bind himself like a serpent tightly around their hearts”.

“They then self-justify their situation and when challenged lash out, full of rage,” he said. “Like with a drunk, you can’t reason with them.”

Various commentators attacked Rees-Mogg on Thursday after he said he followed Church teaching on marriage and abortion. One accused him of holding “views verging on the fascistic” and said his Catholicism should have “no place in public life”.

“A politician, or indeed anyone in the public eye, will be used to backlash,” Bishop Egan said. “It often focuses on the acutely personal. You need a thick skin, which I’m sure Jacob Rees-Mogg has.”

He praised Rees-Mogg for stating his Catholic views, but said the attacks on him are hardly surprising.

“He gave a wonderful witness on ITV as a Catholic: he was faithful and bold, yet gentle in stating his position.

“I imagine he will have encountered most opposition for his stance on gay marriage. Catholics believe that every human being is called to chastity. When on matters of sexual morality, people do not espouse chastity, they open themselves to deep-seated forces within. They can even unwittingly allow the Evil One to bind himself like a serpent tightly around their hearts. They then self-justify their situation and when challenged lash out, full of rage.

“Like with a drunk, you can’t reason with them. Sadly, as a consequence, they never hear how much Christ and His Church loves them and wants to lift them up to nobler, more beautiful and more fulfilling way of life.”