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Was the Pope in Rome a traitor?

Now that the police are investigating Mat Sabu and will probably be interrogating him soon (meaning: recording his statement) because of his so-called treasonous act, let us in the meantime read the following excerpt and decide whether the Pope in Rome was also treasonous.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Master Secretary, His Holiness is considering a ruling that will say that heretical monarchs can be justly defied by their subjects, and that such a defiance, even to armed rebellion, is no sin.

Cecil leaned back in his padded chair and reread the letter, making sure that he had made no error in the double translation, out of code and then out of Latin. It was a message of such enormity that he could not believe it, even when it was in plain English before him.

It was a death sentence for the queen. It assured any disgruntled Catholic that they could plot against her with impunity, actually with the blessing of the Holy Father. It was a veritable crusade against the young queen, as potent and unpredictable as a Knights Templar attack on the Moors. It licensed the deranged assassin, the man with a grudge, indeed, it put the dagger into his hands.

It broke the eternal promise that an anointed monarch commanded the obedience of all his subjects, even those who disagreed with him. It broke the harmony of the universe that placed God above the angels, angels above kings, kings above mortal men.

A man could no more attack a king than a king could attack an angel, than an angel could attack God. This madness of the Pope broke the unwritten agreement that one earthly monarch would never encourage the subjects of another earthly monarch to rise up against them.

The assumption has always been that kings should stick together, that nothing was more dangerous than the people with a licence. Now the Pope was to give the people the licence to rise up against Elizabeth and who knew how many might avail themselves of this permission?

Cecil tried to draw a sheet of paper towards him and found that his hands were shaking. For the first time in these anxious months, he truly thought they would be defeated. He thought that he had aligned himself to a doomed cause. He did not think that Elizabeth could survive this.

There were too many who had opposed her from the start; once they knew that their treasonous plotting was no longer a sin, they would multiply like headlice. It was enough that she had to struggle with the church, with her council, with her parliament; none of which were in full support, some of which were in open opposition. If the people themselves were turned against her she could not last long.

He thought for a moment, for only a moment, that he might have done better to have supported Henry Hastings as the best Protestant claimant for the throne, since the Pope would surely not have dared to summon a rebellion against the king. He thought for another moment that perhaps he should have urged Elizabeth to accept the raising of the Host, to have kept the church in England as papist for a year or so, to ease the transition of reform.

He gritted his teeth. What was done had been done, and they would have to live with their mistakes, and some would die for them. He was fairly certain that Elizabeth would die, to name only one.

He clasped his hands together until they were steady again, and then started to plan ways to try to ensure that an assassin did not reach Elizabeth at court, when she was out hunting, when she was on the river, when she was visiting.

It was a nightmare task. Cecil stayed up all night writing lists of men he could trust, preparing plans to see her guarded, and knew at the end that if the Catholics of England obeyed the Pope, as they must do, then Elizabeth was a dead woman, and all Cecil could do for her is to delay her funeral.

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