Why is the Catholic Church winning so few converts these days.? Could it be episodes like the one which took place at a Dublin church for the graduation of the sixth-class students from the neighbouring school?
The church is run by the Servite Fathers. They’ve put a lot of money into converting it to conform with the “Spirit of Vatican II”, including removing all the kneelers, so that the congregation is dissuaded from kneeling during the consecration. The curate sits at Mass and looks on benignly while Communion is given out solely by lay ministers. (Priests who do this show a “reprehensible attitude”, according to Pope St John Paul II.)
The evening began with parents and children filling the church, laughing, joking and chatting at the tops of their voices. The “sanctuary” lamp showed that the Blessed Sacrament had not been removed.
The procession of children to the sanctuary with reminders of school, including football and hurling paraphernalia, which they stacked against the altar has come to be regarded as normal. The casual insouciance of the headmaster, laying his script on the altar as he chatted to the teachers, was nothing exceptional. Neither was the Elton John number “Your Song”, played on the church piano as the young students in home-made coloured mortar boards rearranged themselves at the side of the church. Or the laughter which greeted the speeches or the raucous clapping which followed each event.
What perhaps was unusual was the group of school musicians who played “What shall we do with a drunken sailor” in front of the tabernacle. This was followed by a “lip dub” video of the sixth class― including the homosexual anthem “YMCA”―screened on the church wall next to the tabernacle.
Among the congregation were a few women with their heads respectfully covered―but they were Moslems. What must they (and the children) have thought of those parents and teachers who claim to believe that God is really and truly present in the tabernacle–and yet behave like this?
I recently received this from my brother-in-law in England:
“I expect you’ve heard of the great progressive stance taken by our public schools, or at least one of them, in this so repressive world. It was reported in the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail that the medical centre in the now co-ed Stowe school had committed the cardinal offence of nearly running out of supplies of the Morning After pill. Can you beat that for negligence? All of us now hope that at least they’ll invite the British Pregnancy Advisory Service to set up a clinic in a month or two’s time to sort out any problems caused by this dereliction of duty.”
David Cameron has trumpeted the British Government’s “huge, historic” redefinition of marriage. His video message, filmed to mark “Pride in London”, is a deliberate insult to ordinary people who sincerely believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. Not only does he boast that Britain is now “the best place in Europe to be gay or lesbian”; he says he is prepared to to use taxpayers’ hard-earned money to promote “same-sex marriage” abroad. In his party’s election manifesto he gave no hint of such a policy―knowing full well, I suspect, that Conservatives would have deserted the party in droves, had they known of his intentions.
Cameron has brushed off concerns that people will be damaged in their careers, businesses or in their dealings with the public sector because of their support for traditional marriage. He has strongly opposed conscience rights for public employees or the self-employed. British laws on homosexuality now go beyond even the requirements of the EU.
I have just returned from a stimulating symposium organised by the Roman Forum at the idyllic setting of Gardone in the Italian Lakes. While there I met a young academic philosopher with an enviable gift for thinking quickly on his feet. Some time ago, he told us, he had witnessed a group of young teenage boys teasing each other by using the epithet “gay” to mean useless, pathetic or ineffectual. After a while they were approached by a gentleman who rebuked them roundly, saying that as a “gay man” and proud of it, he objected to the way they were using the word to mean something objectionable.
The young philosopher interjected. Today, he said, these boys had just as much right to use the word “gay” in a different sense to the one now commonly intended, as years ago the homosexuals had to change it from its original and true meaning of happy and cheerful.
A Scary Thought
Is it really possible that the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of a valid marriage could, in practice, be watered down in the interests of “mercy”? Good and wise people tell me it could never happen. But I’m not so sure. There are very powerful interests trying to soften us up for “change”, and they will be strongly represented in the forthcoming synod on the family. We will just have to wait until October for an answer, but I think we should be considering our options in advance if that answer turns out to be an inconclusive fudge.
More tentative thoughts on this in our next issue.