Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he tries to say the rosary daily and also praised the Tridentine Mass in an interview for a political website.
In a wide-ranging discussion on his faith with the website ConservativeHome, Rees-Mogg that although he tries to keep his Catholic faith a private matter, he feels obliged to answer honestly when people ask him about it.
“I don’t aim to ‘do God’,” he said, but “I get asked questions that relate to my faith and I answer the questions that I am asked.
“I don’t see my role as being a proselytising role or a theological role or a teaching role, but I think one has to admit and bear witness to what one believes.”
He said that he has never had any real doubts about the faith, nor wondered whether it was all true. “I’ve always believed it, even though as a child I did not enjoy going to church,” he said.
The MP also confirmed that he did not have a Tridentine Mass at his wedding, despite repeated claims, but instead had a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin. He explained that the celebrant thought that people unfamiliar with going to church would start chatting during the long periods of silence.
“I do go to the Tridentine Rite when it is available near me in Somerset,” he said, however he does not go out of his way to look for an Old Rite Mass. “The New Rite is in all senses valid, it is not a lesser rite, it is not a subsidiary rite,” he added.
Nonetheless, the Old Rite still has a particular appeal. “I think it is richer, the texts are fuller – a lot has been taken out for the New Rite – it focuses more centrally on the Eucharist, rather than on the other parts of the Mass which in my view are less central, and it is more thoughtful – there is more silence.”
In terms of his own prayer life, Rees-Mogg said that he tries to pray the rosary every day, although not the “full 200 Hail Marys”.
The Catholic politician faced a media storm last summer when, in an interview, he stated his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. However, Rees-Mogg said that as a backbencher he has little say over such issues.
“The issue is whether you would try and make it party policy, not whether you would vote one way or another as a matter of conscience.” He explained that many parliamentary votes depend on what the party leadership says, rather than individual MPs.
“I think what people are worried about is that somebody who is Catholic might influence the party bosses to make them insist that their religious view became a whipped vote. I am very clear that I would not seek to do [that], I think that is a matter for people’s consciences.”
“There is clearly in parliament no majority for my views on life,” he added, “but as an individual MP I would vote in favour of life.”