I think I do understand the attitude of Dr Ian Paisley to the Roman Catholic Church. She uses the Bible; talks a great deal about God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit; demonstrates in her members what look like the fruits of the Spirit; but, at her heart, underneath all this, she does not subscribe to the core Protestant superstition: the idea that a Christian is justified by fiducia alone. So she is a fraud made all the more horrendously perverted by the fact that that, by adorning herself in tatters and rags stolen from the Gospel, she looks like the real thing. It would be no use explaining to Dr P that the RC Church, for example, actually deploys a great deal more Bible in her life than Presbyterian Churches do; that is not the point. He would simply reply, in that splendid Ulster accent with all its diphthongised vowels, that this makes her all the more of a dangerous, blasphemous, fraud.
He has got the meaning of the term Antichrist right, whatever else he has got wrong. The essence of the concept of the Antichrist is that he, the ultimate manifestation of evil, is skilfully dressed up so as plausibly to appear the genuine article. It occurs to me to wonder if the movement known as Affirming Catholicism is exactly this. The enthusiasm and the technical mastery with which they deploy their props - the lace, the monstrances, the music, the incense, the 39 buttons down their soutanes - are they simply deceptions of the Evil One, designed to draw away the faithful from their Redeemer?
I mustn't let my rhetoric run away with me. Some of them are decent and well-meaning, but misguided, people. I am not their judge; I shall stand before the same tribunal as they do. But there are some of them who have a virulent hatred of us. They do not say "These people who reject women priests are decent and good Catholics with whom I would wish to collaborate in every possible way because - except in this one issue - we share the same faith; and I wish them well because - although they're just making this one mistake - they can share with us our mission to spread the Catholic Faith within the Church of England". They want to see us persecuted, they want to see us denied a place within the Provinces of Canterbury and York. Their hatred of us seems visceral.
Now that's where the devil really is.