Friday, August 31, 2012

A sense of dread...

...when one looks ahead at the Autumn and winter activities in Parliament. Are we going to get grim new laws which will redefine marriage and force sane men and women to pretend that two people of the same sex can marry one another? Will legislation - or a court's interpretation of it - threaten Catholic schools so that teachers will feel they may not teach that marriage can only be between a man and a woman? Will there be attempts to sue Christian people for upholding human and Christian truths?

I get irritated when Catholics say gleefully that "a time of persecution is coming, and it will probably do us a lot of good!"  It may well be coming - although "persecution" will be too strong a word initially  and it will all be fairly muddled and mild and may not seem very dramatic at first  - but it will not be fun and it will not, in the lifetime of most of us, apparently do us much good. Under strong legal pressures, many succumb. In Eastern Europe, during the ghastly years of Comunism - when there was real persecution - many decent people fell silent, coped as best they could, kept their religious beliefs to themselves, tried not to endanger their children, and were not outstandingly brave.  Things were different in Poland, with heroic and holy leadership from great men, one of whom became Pope, one of the greatest Popes in history.  But elsewhere things were bleak, and when freedom finally came, the Church was weak and many people were confused and ignorant.

There are going to be tough times ahead. Don't gloat about it: we are going to need courage and faith, prayer, humility and good humour in adversity. Those who make the most noise ("We are prepared  to write the Creed in our blood!" or whatever)  are not usually those who are bravest when the time comes.

Years ago, when I read Solzenhitsyn's Gulag Archipelago I remember thinking that I would never take my freedom and my everyday London suburban life - family, friends, meals, a home, lovely Autumn walks, cups of tea  -  for granted. I would always be glad and grateful, and do whatever paltry things I could to alleviate suffering elsewhere.

I'm still not taking freedom for granted, and now when I look ahead I ponder things almost unimaginable 30 years ago.


Manny said...

I get that same irritation with those who say we are going to get persecuted and shrunk down. And there are some high profile Catholic bloggers who believe this. What are they hoping for? Do they realize how many souls will perish as they gravitate toward atheism? It seems like despair and defeatism to me. I cannot stand defeatism. Goodness gracious, could these people have stood up and defeated Hitler? Thank you Joanna for saying this. I was starting to think it was only me who felt frustration from my fellow defeatist Catholics.

Anonymous said...

While the plans to legalise same-sex "marriage" are indeed muddle-headed and wrong - more a product of an inability to think things through than anything formed of evil intent. To compare this to Soviet communism is surely way over the top.

In truth I think that the damage to marriage, children and family life has already been done, wrought by blithely accepted amoral social attitudes. This where the focus needs to be, rather than on what I imagine will be a small number of cases of a man wanting to "marry" another man or a woman "marry" a woman.

Dorotheus said...

Pope John Paul was undoubtedly a great man in many respects and those criticisms are pretty mean. One thing, however, that must be said of him is that as pope he failed the Church in its greatest crisis of recent times, as he did so very little over the abuse scandal. I don't believe that the Catholic Church has even yet begun to take in the extent to which this scandal has damaged it or begun to address the underlying issues that brought it about, its structures of authority and power and its distorted theology of human sexuality. A truly great-hearted pope like John XXIII might have confronted these things. John Paul II, who was too much wedded to the institution, did not and that always be a major question-mark about him. Saint? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

No one will be forced into anything and no one will pretend to believe anything. However two people who love each other and want to make a commitment to will be able to do so.
It won't actually affect you or change your life or your beliefs.
This is freedom.

Joanna Bogle said...

Oh, Anonymous, how naive you are. The whole point of my concern is precisely that we will NOT be left alone to affirm or act on our beliefs. A same-sex couple could complain that a school had insulted them by teaching that only a man and a woman can marry. A church could be at risk of legal action by a same-sex couple who insist on the right to have a "marriage" ceremony there. Ditto a church hall that they want to hire for such a ceremony. Do grow up and recognise the real issues involved here.

Anonymous said...

I am the 9.31AM Anonymous, not the the 11.27AM one!

As I said, the plans are muddle-headed and wrong, but will not bring the end of civilization. Churches will not be forced to carry out such "marriages" - no more than they are forced to marry divorcees. And divorcees have no legal recourse against being refused a church wedding, do they? Christian schools can continue to teach that, no matter the civil law says, Christians believe that marriage takes place between a man and a woman. And a church hall could in theory be hired to celebrate a civil partnership now, but how many legal cases have there been involving churches who refuse such requests?