Recorded history attests to a cross-continental alliance between Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. After all, she celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall: but to her dismay, the Euro, the Maastricht treaty (EU) and political integration followed. Recent events with Brexit, however, may prove to be her last laugh!
Margaret Thatcher was raised in the Methodist tradition in rural England. John O’Sullivan calls her, “the incarnation of provincial Methodist virtues—a very simple person, not riven by doubt about essentials, and decisive for that reason.” (ibid) She was decisive about a few principles that appear in the Pope’s Centesimus Annus: subsidiarity and moral free-market capitalism. These two Catholic social teachings unconsciously informed her worldview, although she may have called them simply “Euro-skepticism”. As I mentioned, the EU formed soon after Thatcher’s resignation, but her legacy continues even to the present day, as seen in the British patriotism of Daniel Hannan .
But for a British Prime Minister to align herself with the Bishop of Rome in the Cold War is truly an irony of history as well. Certainly Elizabeth the 1st would not have made such an alliance. Yet, Thatcher and the Pope were not necessarily aligned afterward as best indicated by the dispute over the Falklands. The Pope openly opposed her aggression in that regard. For this and other reasons of sheer stubbornness, she was known as the “Iron Lady Thatcher”.