Lost in the Desert

Faith Blog

Our Latest Blog Articles

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  1. Flirting with Fideism

    "Each Chrisitan generation must undertake" “the synthetic passage through both Athens and Jerusalem."

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  2. The Trump Election and Freedom of Thought

    The Trump Election and Freedom of Thought
    In a recent “Points of View” episode on BBC Radio 4[1], the well-known philosopher, Professor Roger Scruton, gave a reasoned analysis of something that may explain the surprise election of Donald Trump in America and of the Brexit vote here in the UK. Although clearly not a supporter ...
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  3. Bishop Barron Misses the Impact of Modern Science

    Bishop Barron Misses the Impact of Modern Science
    On his blog and in a recent Catholic Herald piece (9.9.16) Bishop Robert Barron offers some excellent reflections upon a recent Pew survey looking at reasons why young people are leaving Christianity in droves. He well shows how Roman Catholic leaders and teachers are dangerously underestimating ...
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  4. Jeff Mirus illustrates the fulfillment of Holloway's 1950 prediction.

    Jeff Mirus illustrates the fulfillment of Holloway's 1950 prediction.
    Jeff Mirus writes here on modern murder mystery novels. He says “Unfortunately, I’ve run into a number of telling cultural trends in these stories which make it more difficult to relax and enjoy the solution to 'a good clean murder'". He well articulates the over represen...
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  5. Contextualising Brexit

    Contextualising Brexit
    On 23 June 2016 a referendum was held in which a narrow majority of voters in the United Kingdom (nearly 52%) voted in favour of leaving the European Union, the so-called “Brexit”. This contrasts with the large majority (67%) who had voted to join the then European Community in 1975. ...
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  6. A 1980 Post-mortem of a Rebirth

    A 1980 Post-mortem of a Rebirth
    Thirty odd years after this overview of twentieth century Catholic intellectual culture, the points of James Hitchcock seem even more relevant. Below are some extracts but the, significantly longer, full article repays study. [Post-mortem on a rebirth. The Catholic Intellectual Renaissance, from ...
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  7. 'Desire Trumping Ideas': A Too Simple Diagnosis

    'Desire Trumping Ideas': A Too Simple Diagnosis
    The great analyser of relativist culture, Jeff Mirus, seems to have downplayed a bit too much the role of the intellectual. In part of his insightful series on “gender” ideology he argues: (our comments in blue).Modern Western culture is weakened by a great vacuum of systematic though...
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  8. Refounding Human Dignity

    Refounding Human Dignity
    A Guardian editorial in May described the decline in numbers and influence of Christianity and affirms that Christianity gave us “the idea that people have some rights just because they are human, and entirely irrespective of merit, [it] certainly isn’t derived from observat...
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  9. Experimental Success contra Aristotelean Natures

    Experimental Success contra Aristotelean Natures
    Mgr Charles Pope recently turned his deft blogging hand to a subject close to our heart. Pulling up Roots from Reality – A Review of a Cogent Analysis of the Post-Cartesian West.Like Fr Edward Holloway and others he acknowledges that a key moment in the rise of relativism was René De...
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  10. The Benedict Centre and Public Life

    The Benedict Centre and Public Life
    On 6th May, the Catholic Herald published a news article by Dan Hitchens entitled:“St Mary’s University launches Benedict XVI Centre to ‘play a key role in public life’”The centre is a good fruit of Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain in 2010, when he ca...
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  11. The Rights Juggernaut and the Weakest of the Weak.

    The Rights Juggernaut and the Weakest of the Weak.
    Comments to blog@faith.org.uk (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovukIt is always worth keeping in mind that it is the little ones who must first pay the price of the cultural rejection of ‘human nature’. An item in last Sunday’s “Sunday programme” illust...
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  12. Meeting the Modern Mindset.

    Meeting the Modern Mindset.
    Here’s a powerful three minutes showing where the denial of “the nature of things” has got us.This further illustrates the deep infiltration of the philosophical position of ‘swing vote’ Justice Kennedy, which we recently blogged about: "the constitution &hellip...
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  13. BBC allows Lemaitre to witness to harmony of Faith and Reason

    BBC allows Lemaitre to witness to harmony of Faith and Reason
    The BBC recently produced an excellent two-part programme concerning the beginning and end of the universe (available until 28th April). The presenter, Prof. Jim Al-Khalili, is a regular presenter of “The Life Scientific” on Radio 4 and has presented several television series on scien...
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  14. Tony Blair Moves Towards Pope Benedict

    Tony Blair Moves Towards Pope Benedict
    Comments to blog@faith.org.uk (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovuk1. “Theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem”. This is a key theme of Rabbi Sacks’ recent book “Not in God’s Name”  concern...
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  15. Which comes first in Kerygmatic Catechesis: Sin or Christ?

    Which comes first in Kerygmatic Catechesis: Sin or Christ?
    The indefatigably insightful Msgr Charles Pope has recently plotted a helpful way forward for kerygmatic catechesis. Yet his content starts with, “Part 1 (Sept. to Jan.) – Sin – ‘I once was lost in sin’”A Mr Miller puts an attractive alternative ...
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  16. 5 Similar Diagnoses of Marriage Redefinition

    5 Similar Diagnoses of Marriage Redefinition
    1. The US Supreme Court’s “swing vote” Justice Kennedy gives a clue to the philosophy sweeping through our culture (not least through his actual votes). He builds his moral judgments upon the absence of a concept of human nature.In a March 4th Catholic Herald article, “The...
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  17. Priestly loving: The BBC versus St John Paul II

    Priestly loving: The BBC versus St John Paul II
    In the November 2008 FAITH magazine Fr William Massie, reflects upon Edward Holloway’s pamphlet, “The Priest and His Loving”. A prophetic 1974 foundation of this pamphlet is in the current magazine. Fr Massie quoted this St John Paul II imperative to priests:be a witness to Chri...
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  18. Towards Diagnosis: Two more pieces on the pre-Vatican II era.

    Towards Diagnosis: Two more pieces on the pre-Vatican II era.
    In support of seeing a lack of appropriate theological development before the 1960s (see previous post) is a piece by Jeff Mirus. He concludes:“Too often Catholics prefer[ed] to condemn rather than to engage the rapidly secularizing society … When the culture shifted, their...
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  19. To What Degree Did The Pre-Vatican II Church ‘Cause’ The Decline Of It's Influence?

    To What Degree Did The Pre-Vatican II Church ‘Cause’ The Decline Of It's Influence?
    In an earlier blog post we flagged up a recent Catholic Herald piece showing the need for a diagnosis of how classical Christianity came to drop the reins of cultural influence. http://tinyurl.com/nrk454mThe Winter 2013 “Mass of Ages” provides another piece of evidence. The Latin Mass...
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  20. Mediating between the New Atheists and the new apologists

    Mediating between the New Atheists and the new apologists
    Comments to blog@faith.org.uk (which will be moderated) or twitter to @faithmovukProfessor Tom McLeish of Durham University recently made a common Christian reply to the New Atheist claim that science and faith are opposed. On Radio Ulster he affirmed that science “uses our capacity for fai...
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  21. The Magi: not just a story.

    The Magi: not just a story.
    Available for the next few weeks, BBC iPlayer has an interesting exploration of astronomical possibilities for the Star of Bethlehem (though beware a juvenile short section from The Life of Brian, and a lazy equivalence of pre-modern science astrology and “devout Christianity&rdqu...
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  22. Civil Law and the Homosexual Person

    Civil Law and the Homosexual Person
    Mark Lowery FAITH Magazine July-August 2002“You Can’t Legislate Morality?”Why can’t you just let us do what we want to do?” “How does this harm you?” “Don’t impose your morality on us!” “If you don’t like this,...
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  23. FAQ: Why is the Church so homophobic? If two people love each other, shouldn't they be allowed to get married, regardless of their sex?

    FAQ: Why is the Church so homophobic? If two people love each other, shouldn't they be allowed to get married, regardless of their sex?
    The Catholic Church promotes the dignity and welfare of every human individual regardless of whom they are sexually attracted to. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that those with homosexual tendencies must “be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity” (2358) and &...
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  24. Hard Questions - a new series of talks in London

    Hard Questions - a new series of talks in London
    "Hard Questions" is a new series of talks that will take place in Central London and is run by Faith Movement to which all are welcome. The talks will take place on selected Tuesdays at 7:30pm.God and Our Environment29 September 2015 Is man an ape or an angel? Fr Roger Nesbitt...
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  25. In Defence of Frequent Communion

    In Defence of Frequent Communion
    Check out the this Editorial addressing the issue of the reception of Holy Communion and the value of regularly receiving the body and blood of the Lord for the sanctification of the faithful. ...
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  26. Three excellent resources & two caveats

    Three excellent resources & two caveats
    Fr Barron’s “Catholicism”:  catholicism.wordonfire.org/Portsmouth Diocese's new Confirmation programme:  www.transformedinchrist.com/session1/Westminster Diocese’s brand new singing and dancing youth page, where the CTS has provided the “Catholicism&rdq...
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  27. The Need for Diagnosis

    The Need for Diagnosis
    Stephen Bullivant says in this recently published piece:“Just think at your next Easter Vigil, for every new person coming through the RCIA – over whom we are right to rejoice – 10 people have drifted so far away that they no longer tick the “Catholic” box on surveys...
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  28. ARCHIVE: Saint Philip Neri - A Guide to Chastity

    ARCHIVE: Saint Philip Neri - A Guide to Chastity
    Richard Whinder FAITH Magazine July-Aug 2007St Philip Neri, (1515-1595) founder of the Congregation of the Oratory, and often called the ‘Second Apostle of Rome’, has many titles attributed to him. Two of these – ‘Flower of Purity’ and ‘Gentle Guide of You...
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  29. In a hurry? More than you realise!

    In a hurry? More than you realise!
    It’s tempting to think the universe is rather static. So thanks to Msgr Charles Pope http://tiny.cc/8deiux for the following information:At the latitude of Washington D.C., the Earth is rotating at about 750 miles an hour. [401c.html">1]The rotating Earth is also revolving around the Sun at ...
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  30. Our Lady In The Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI

    Our Lady In The Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI
    Check out one of the new articles in the January - February edition of FAITH Magazine on Our Lady In The Teaching of Pope Benedict XVI. You can subscribe to FAITH Magazine here. ...
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  31. New Series Of Talks In Glasgow!

    New Series Of Talks In Glasgow!
    The Glasgow Faith Forum has just announced a new series of talks which will take place on Thursday evenings over the next few months. All talks are followed by questions, refreshments and Night Prayer and aimed at young people aged between 16 and 25. Get more information at the Glasgow Faith Foru...
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  32. New Year Series of London talks!

    New Year Series of London talks!
    The London Faith Forum is back with another series of talks which take place on alternate Tuesday evenings in January, February and March. The series, entitled The Church and Other Beliefs, features a host of good speakers addressing important questions concerning the nature of the Church and its...
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  33. Great Start to Faith Winter Session 2014!

    Great Start to Faith Winter Session 2014!
    Faith Winter Session 2014 began yesterday at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire with around 200 young Catholics from across the UK in attendance. Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury preached at Mass yesterday evening about St Thomas of Canterbury and how his yes to God should inspire young people to hav...
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  34. FAQ: Why did God wait for so long to come and help us?

    FAQ: Why did God wait for so long to come and help us?
    The time before God becoming man is the period in which He gradually comes closer to mankind, fostering the fullness of life, as well as healing from sin and its effects. The help of God has never been absent from human history, even from the time of humanity’s Fall. But it is true tha...
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  35. The Primacy of Christ in the Vision of Edward Holloway

    The Primacy of Christ in the Vision of Edward Holloway
    Fr. Michael John Galbraith. FAITH Magazine January-February 2006 The Unity of Truth In his Encyclical Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II reminded us that, “the unity of truth is a fundamental premise of human reasoning... Revelation renders this unity certain, showing tha...
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  36. FAQ: Why do Catholics have to go to Mass on Sunday? Why not Monday?

    FAQ: Why do Catholics have to go to Mass on Sunday? Why not Monday?
    In the Old Testament God commanded his people to keep holy the Sabbath. The Church, which is the new People of God, observes Sunday as the Sabbath in commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ which happened on a Sunday. We keep holy our Sabbath by attending Mass and in this way obeying Christ&r...
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  37. ARCHIVE: The Cardinal, the Pope & the Scientists

    ARCHIVE: The Cardinal, the Pope & the Scientists
    Editorial FAITH Magazine November-December 2005If they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things? (Wisdom 13,9).Science And The Magisterium, A New ControversyHis Eminence Cardinal Schonborn managed to spark ...
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  38. ARCHIVE: Holiness is Fitting for your House, O Lord

    ARCHIVE: Holiness is Fitting for your House, O Lord
    Editorial FAITH Magazine September-October 2003“If anything constant remains in our days of recurring crisis, it is that the certainties have gone out of life, out of the life of the individual and out of the life of society.It is a heartbreaking realisation.The feeling of insecurity i...
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  39. FAQ: If disease & death are a result of Original Sin, then how come they affect organisms that cannot sin & predate the Fall?

    FAQ: If disease & death are a result of Original Sin, then how come they affect organisms that cannot sin & predate the Fall?
    Properly speaking, it is human suffering and death which are a result of the Fall, not disease and death in the purely material creation. Clearly, if God gave humans and animals the plants for food (Gen 1:29-30), then He envisaged that plants would die before the Fall. And presuming that we are n...
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  40. ARCHIVE: The Crusades - Seeking the Truth

    ARCHIVE: The Crusades - Seeking the Truth
    Nicholas Schofield FAITH Magazine May-June 2006The crusades capture the imagination – but over the years they have done so in many different ways. Here are three modern examples:When I was a boy, I spent many a happy hour with my toy soldiers. I was particularly keen on playing ‘...
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  41. FAQ: How can God be loving when Abraham is tricked into thinking God wants him to kill his only child?

    FAQ: How can God be loving when Abraham is tricked into thinking God wants him to kill his only child?
    We must understand that what we read in the book of Genesis comes from a religion and culture which is at its early stages of growing into a relationship with God. What Genesis recounts can be difficult and confusing for us who have the benefit of having heard the message of Christ communicated t...
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  42. ARCHIVE: How are we to assess Islam?

    ARCHIVE: How are we to assess Islam?
    Edouard Harmouche FAITH Magazine September-October 2003Catholicism is still the largest religious group in the world with over a billion adherents. After that come somewhere in the region of 900 million Muslims, who currently form the fastest growing religious group on the planet. This is re...
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  43. CURRENT MAGAZINE: The Gospel & Cultures

    CURRENT MAGAZINE: The Gospel & Cultures
    Michael Nazir Ali FAITH MAGAZINE September-October 2014The last few weeks I have been closely engaged with the people and scholars of two ancient cultures – that of Egypt and of Mughal India. This has raised afresh for me the question about the relationship of the Gospel to culture.In ...
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  44. FAQ: What does the Pope do?

    FAQ: What does the Pope do?
    The Pope maintains the public unity of the Church. This unity in belief and witness is essential if Jesus’ role of humanly forming and feeding us with Himself is to be continued.The Apostle Peter was the first to be given this role, as is shown in Holy Scripture. The Pope is his “Succ...
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  45. ARCHIVE: The Spirit moves over the waters: renewing our vision of the Sacraments

    ARCHIVE: The Spirit moves over the waters: renewing our vision of the Sacraments
    Editorial FAITH Magazine September-October 2007 Why Sacraments?  This editorial article takes more the character of a sustained theological meditation than a topical or controversial ‘op-ed’ piece. There is good precedent for this approach in the magnificent editorials ...
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  46. London Evening of Faith Success!

    London Evening of Faith Success!
    The first of our Evenings of Faith kicked off this week on Tuesday evening with a talk on Original Sin by Mary Gray. The event was well attended by University students and workers in the city of London gathering to listen, ask questions and interact with one another over a glass of wine and pizza...
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  47. FAQ: If something good happens after someone prays, and the same thing happens to one who doesn't pray for it - how can you prove that the prayer was answered?

    FAQ: If something good happens after someone prays, and the same thing happens to one who doesn't pray for it - how can you prove that the prayer was answered?
    God is free to bestow gifts on people even if they don’t ask for them! Does a parent only provide good things for their children if they specifically ask? Moreover, God, who alone sees all things and what is necessary, treats us as the unique individuals He created us to be; not a ‘on...
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  48. ARCHIVE: A Time for Listening to the Ordinary Magisterium

    ARCHIVE: A Time for Listening to the Ordinary Magisterium
    Editorial FAITH Magazine July-August 2003The Swiss priest Hans Kung ranks among the most famous theologians of our times, and it is interesting to note that Prime Minister Tony Blair has met with him on a number of occasions and says he has been influenced by his thought. However it should b...
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  49. Glasgow Faith Forum gears up for Spring Session

    Glasgow Faith Forum gears up for Spring Session
      GLASGOW FAITH FORUM 2016a series of talks for young people aged 16–25 HERALDS OF THE NEW EVANGELISATION    THE BAPTISMAL CALL TO EVANGELISE 21 JanuaryPriest, prophet and king Father Peter Damian Grint   EVANGELISATION THEN 4 February Procl...
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  50. Why was the Crucifixion necessary? Could not God have saved us in a way less cruel?

    Why was the Crucifixion necessary? Could not God have saved us in a way less cruel?
    God is not responsible for the brutality of the crucifixion. On the contrary, the crucifixion is the result of human sinfulness. This is because human wickedness has real consequences, and therefore our redemption (i.e. how God saves us from our sins) is not just about God “turning a blind ...
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  51. ARCHIVE: A Short History of Science & Christianity

    ARCHIVE: A Short History of Science & Christianity
    Peter E Hodgson FAITH Magazine November-December 2008It is becoming increasingly recognised, at least within the Church, that science has developed only in the context of a Christian civilisation, and has deep Christian roots.If we consider the great civilisations of the past such as those o...
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  52. FAQ: If God is All-Good, why do bad things happen?

    FAQ: If God is All-Good, why do bad things happen?
    God has created different sorts of things. In particular He has created matter, which is simply controlled by His laws of nature (the laws we attempt to discover in the natural sciences). He has also created spiritual beings, angels and human souls, which have free will; they are also govern...
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  53. What has Ethiopia to Teach us?

    What has Ethiopia to Teach us?
    Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali FAITH MAGAZINE July-August 2014The introduction of Christianity to Ethiopia is charted in the Acts of the Apostles. The contemporary story of this ancient Christian church, though, has much to teach us, says Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali.The St Frumentius Lectures in Addi...
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  54. FAQ: What does being Confirmed mean?

    FAQ: What does being Confirmed mean?
    We are made members of the Body of Christ through receiving three sacraments - Baptism, Confirmation,  which we receive only once, and the Holy Eucharist which is Christ Himself. Confirmation completes and strengthens ('confirms') the spiritual “character” and belonging t...
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  55. New edition of Faith Magazine online!

    New edition of Faith Magazine online!
    The New July-August edition of Faith Magazine is now online. ...
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  56. New series of talks in London!

    New series of talks in London!
    All are welcome to our Autumn series of talks Jesus Christ and Human Love.The talks are a great opportunity to deepen your faith and to connect with other Catholics.Talks will take place on alternate Tuesday evenings at 19:30 from 23rd September in the Crypt of Our Lady of Assumption Catholi...
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  57. Summer Session Roundup Video!

    Summer Session Roundup Video!
    The Faith Summer Session 2014 was as good as any in recent memory, set in the beautiful grounds of Woldingham School in Surrey. The theme was especially relevent given contemporary challenges to family life and the upcoming Synod on that subject.Here our very own David Edwards provides a quick su...
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  58. ARCHIVE: Confusion over the Meanings of Marriage

    ARCHIVE: Confusion over the Meanings of Marriage
    Editorial FAITH Magazine March-April 2006The "Ends" of Marriage: An Unresolved TeachingThe old Code of Canon Law (1917) stated that “the primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of offspring; the secondary end is mutual love and support, and the remedying of c...
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  59. New photos from Faith Summer Session!

    New photos from Faith Summer Session!
    See more photos in the new album on our Facebook page and please like us too!   ...
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  60. Summer Session Success!

    Summer Session Success!
    The Faith Summer Session 2014 has just come to a close. Young people from across the UK and beyond gathered to hear talks on the topic of The Family In God's Plan and the Modern World. The Summer Session combines time for presentations on the faith, daily Mass, prayer and the opportunity for ...
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  61. Summer Session 2014 Update

    Summer Session 2014 Update
    See our new video update from the Faith Summer Session 2014. Sr Andrea Frailie describes what has been going on at the conference so far which is addressing the theme of The Family in God's Plan and The Modern World. She speaks about the presentation she gave to the conference on th...
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  62. Summer Session 2014 begins!

    Summer Session 2014 begins!
    Faith Summer Session 2014 has begun at Woldingham School, Surrey. The Conference is for those aged 16-35 and is addressing the theme "The Family in God's Plan and in the Modern World". The first speaker of the conference was Dr Stephen Dingley, tutor of Theology at St John's Sem...
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  63. FAQ: What is Papal Infallibility?

    FAQ: What is Papal Infallibility?
    Papal Infallibility refers to the fact that the Pope is divinely preserved from teaching error in his formal teaching on faith and morals. It flows from the divinity of Christ in the Church. God is infallible, and He has irrevocably entered the human realm by becoming man. The Church is the conti...
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  64. Why Do We Sin?

    Why Do We Sin?
    Having spiritual souls means that we have free will. We are not bound to do what is good for us by instinct. This also means that we can refuse to do what is good. God did not make us this way as some sort of test, but because he wanted us to be in his own image and likeness. God is Love and love...
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  65. FAQ: Why does matter need a cause?

    FAQ: Why does matter need a cause?
    It is part of our everyday experience that material things need causes. If you discovered an elephant in your sitting room, you would immediately ask yourself how it got to be there. You would not think, “Oh well, maybe it’s just here for no reason: elephants often just turn up like t...
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  66. Why The Church?

    Why The Church?
    Why The Church? Come and see our video....
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  67. FAQ: What about the Crusades?

    FAQ: What about the Crusades?
    Jesus is ‘the Prince of Peace’ (Is. 9:6). As St John Paul II said, war always represents a defeat for humanity. Yet the Church is realistic about the presence of sin in the world, including amongst her own members, which produces conflict. Thus, while individual Catholics may adopt a ...
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  68. FAQ: What Scientific Evidence is there of God's Existence?

    FAQ: What Scientific Evidence is there of God's Existence?
    Science is concerned with the material universe and its ‘law-like’ behaviour. Catholic Christians believe that God created the universe and continues to hold it in being, i.e. without God's existence the universe cannot exist, so we should expect an interweaving harmony between sc...
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  69. ARCHIVE: The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage

    ARCHIVE: The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage
    William E May FAITH Magazine September-October 2004The Gay Case: Need For An Intelligent AnswerAdvocates of same-sex marriage commonly assert that its opponents are intolerant bigots unjustly denying a fundamental human right to individuals attracted to persons of the same sex. They maintain...
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  70. YES!!!

    YES!!!
    It's been a long overdue face-lift and lots of people have worked very hard with patience and caffeine so thanks to all you guys who have contributed to this project. Thanks to all the volunteers who've lent a hand in the run-up to going live. To all of you reading for the first time, giv...
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  71. Come and See!

    Come and See!
    Have you heard of us but don't know what we do? Maybe this is the first time you've encountered us. Take a look at our new promotional video and come and see us. Consider booking on one of our youth conferences or attending one of our forums. Connect with us on Facebook or Googl...
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  72. FAQ: What do nuns do?

    FAQ: What do nuns do?
    Before considering what nuns do, it’s more appropriate to reflect on what nuns are: regardless of the congregation or religious institute to which she belongs, making Christ present in the world is the nun’s primary mission. She does this by conforming herself entirely to the Person o...
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  • Faith and Freedom

    In the early of the FAITH Movement, we published a pamphlet on religious freedom. Back then, it concentrated on the plight of Christians in Eastern Europe  - behind what was called the Iron Curtain, where a Soviet-dominated system, backed by torture and imprisonment in the Gulag  forced-labour camps, imposed an official atheism.

    The collapse of the Communist system brought freedom to Eastern Europe. The central figure in achieving that, Pope St John Paul, who 1979 pilgrimage to his native Poland gave voice to the authentic Christian heritage of that country, and opened up a new chapter in history that unfolded over the next decade.

    Today – and St John Paul in fact prophetically warned of this – we face new threats to freedom. For there can be no true freedom that is not connected to truth: the truth about the human person, speaking to men and women to men about their own dignity and value.

    St John Paul’s successor Benedict XVI, in a notable sermon shortly before his own election to the papacy, spoke of a “dictatorship of relativism”.

    Realistic

    A realistic look at today’s Britain confirms that the presence of this. A Member of Parliament  – or a magistrate, or the Head Teacher of a school, or a borough councillor -  who dared to say “Children should be taught that marriage is the lifelong union of a man and a woman, bringing new children into the world” would in all probability be denounced with vigour and forced to resign. Such denunciations would very likely be done in the name of justice and humanity – because, in the weird confusion that is modern Britain, there has to be a pretence that it is inhumane to suggest that marriage can only between a man and a woman. There is a sort of weird absurdity which dictates that the realities of human sexuality, and the transmission of life itself, must be subjected to a current ideology. Discussion of the subject must not concentrate on truth as such, but on what is deemed to be politically correct.   And in this there is a ghastly mimicry of the language of Marxist-dominated regimes with a political ideology which similarly allowed of no public dissent.

    St John Paul analysed the problem in his great encyclical letter Veritatis Splendor, honouring the splendour of truth. And in exploring the wide implications of it all, he noted “the risk of an alliance between democracy and ethical relativism, which would remove any sure moral reference point from political and social life, and on a deeper level make the acknowledgement of truth impossible” (VS 101)  and warned us, as he had done in an earlier encyclical, that “As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism". (Centesimus Annus, 1991; 46).

    What is to be done?

    The Church is custodian of truth. She must and will continue to affirm truth. She cannot impose it:  it imposes itself in people’s hearts and minds. She must affirm her right to speak the truth. Her pastors must affirm it. The faithful must affirm it.

    As Catholics, we are not seeking any special privileges. Pope Benedict XVI expressed the position of the Church luminously and with characteristic clarity: “the Church does not impose but rather freely proposes the Catholic faith” (Oct 2, 2008) The Church does not legislate anything in society. There are those who have that responsibility. What she offers is a message that is a guarantee of community solidarity, human dignity and authentic freedom. 

    Speaking in Westminster Hall, at the heart of the most famous Parliament in the world, Pope Benedict emphasised this necessary independence of the Church and its place in society for the common good. He highlighted Britain’s achievements as a “pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law and noted that there was much in common here with Catholic social teaching. 

    He went on to explore the relationship between faith and reason, and to emphasise how they must and should work together, urging that “ the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization”.

    He gave the example of William Wilberforce – the politician, inspired by Christian principles,  who devoted his life to the abolition of the slave trade – as an example of how such dialogue can and should work.

    “Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life.” (Sept 20th 2010)

    Taking up the challenge

    Benedict XVI’s visit revealed a a vast reservoir of goodwill towards the Church. In thanksgiving for the success of the visit,  a Procession of the Blessed Sacrament now makes its way annually across the Thames from Westminster Cathedral to St George’s Cathedral, Southwark. The Houses of Parliament make a dramatic backdrop as it crosses Lambeth Bridge. Here is a statement about religious freedom, and a joyous one.

    But to ensure that this freedom is truly guaranteed, we must make real use of it for the common good. The Church’s public presence lifts people’s hearts, and  the service she gives – in Catholic schools, homes for the elderly, chaplaincies in prisons and hospitals, and the vast range of projects for the poor and disabled and so on – is generally appreciated. We do not need to beg for our right to be heard. But we do need courage, clarity and wisdom in speaking out.

    A Catholic school must teach the Catholic faith – including the Church’s teachings on marriage and family life, in ways that are appropriate for the children’s ages and needs. Catholics must make use of their freedom to give public witness to their faith: suggestions that there should not be Christmas carols sung in public or Christian symbols displayed in public places are absurd and in no way reflected in our country’s laws or traditions. Catholic parishes are free to hold processions (making common-sense arrangements about traffic and so on as required), open-air events, fund-raising projects, and more. And we can and must teach the fullness of the Church’s message in our events and conferences.

    Opposing the current gender ideology

    Pope Francis speaks without bothering about political correctness. Highlighting the new attempts to impose a gender ideology he has been blunt “Today, children are taught this at school: that everyone can choose their own sex. And why do they teach this? Because the books come from those people and institutions who give money...God created man and woman; God created the world like this and we are doing the exact opposite.” (2016)

    And he has noted what any person of common sense has also noted: "The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life." (2015)

    Every Catholic family, parish, school and institution in Britain should have at least one copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and should use it frequently. Here is a quote from it on the topic discussed by Pope Francis. We quote it here in solidarity with the Pope and to emphasise that we have a full right to do so:

    "God created man in his own image ... male and female he created them"; He blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply";"When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created."

    Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.

     Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

     "In creating men 'male and female,' God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity."Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God."

     Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator's generosity and fecundity: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh."All human generations proceed from this union.

    (CCC, emphasis original).

    Practicalities

    As a small project, why not photocopy those words from the Catechism, and send the copy to your Member of Parliament with a brief note, saying that this is the message that you will be teaching the children in your Confirmation group/parish youth group/RE class  and you would like an assurance that it is not against the law to do so?

    Next: a bigger project – more public witness of the Faith.

    Back in the 1970s, it was the courage of Polish Catholics in gathering for Mass in the open-air at Nowa Huta that finally made the Communist authorities allow the building of a church. The courageous Archbishop who celebrated Mass in the open air was the one who finally blessed the great new church – on a day of great joy and pouring rain with vast crowds attending – and who would later give that courage to the wider Church on his election to the Papacy as John Paul II. 

    His approach, in dealing with a difficult situation, was one of prudence and tenacity. He did not rouse people to anger but worked steadily towards the goal, achieving a measure of freedom that at one times seemed impossible...and then, under God’s providence, achieving a great deal more.

    “Do not be afraid!” We have a right to proclaim our Faith, to teach it, the pass it to the next generation. We have a specific heritage here in Britain bequeathed to us by those who forged a Parliamentary democracy over the centuries. And we have something else that John Paul did not have: we have his example. He showed us how to work for freedom in circumstances rather tougher than we are currently experiencing in Britain, and he showed us that the public celebration of the Faith  - processions, open-air Masses, youth events - plays a central role in achieving or affirming the rights of Christians.

    Real needs 

    There can be a certain sort of glee displayed by some Catholics who seem positively to gloat over things appearing difficult in modern society: “You mark my words – they’ll soon be banning the word Christmas”. “You aren’t allowed to mention the word Easter – it’s called a hate crime”.  And so on. This sort of talk may be fun but is unrelated to the real needs of Christians in Britain today: celebrating Easter isn’t a hate-crime and there are no plans to make it so. And no one is banning the use of the word Christmas. But what is certainly happening is that Christians are allowing their faith to be marginalised and somehow relishing it. Let’s stop doing that.  Come and join us walking through London in procession this September. And if your parish/deanery hasn’t had a procession or open-air Catholic event recently, why not start a discussion about getting something organised? And don’t start with a complaint or a demand, but with a joyful suggestion for a celebration of a Faith that is centred on glorious truths and has a message that our country badly needs.