Yesterday I posted a quote from Mgr Ronald Knox's book 'The Belief of Catholics' - published in 1927; and the title was intended to suggest that little appears to have changed in the more than eighty years since then.
I think it is quite apparent from the blogs that there are plenty of Catholics out there wanting to defend the Faith, and doing so vociferously as far as they are able : and yet not one Bishop of England and Wales has stood up and explicitly told the Government that what it is doing is wrong, and that if it continues to do so it must necessarily forfeit any hope of Catholic support.
Worse still, if what the Government says is true - and I am realistic enough to recognize that the fact that the Government says something gives no accurate indication of whether it is true or not - then the Hierarchy has apparently supported this abominable piece of legislation.
There can, simply, be no excuse for this. These men accept the office, and all the good things that go with it : they must also accept the obligation to defend the Faith - usque ad mortem, if necessary, and however unpopular that may make them.
It is not the first time I have quoted 2 Timothy 4, 2 : 'proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it. Refute falsehood, correct error, give encouragement -- but do all with patience and with care to instruct'- and I don't think that there can be much doubt that this is exactly what is needed just at the moment.
However : I would add to that now another quote from S. Paul to Timothy : this time from 1 Timothy 4, 1-2 :
'The Spirit has explicitly said that during the last times some will desert the faith and pay attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from devils, 2 seduced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are branded as though with a red-hot iron'.
Whether these are 'the last times' or not is, of course, not for me to say; but it would be hard to deny that a good case could be made for suggesting that some of the policies of the current Government come into the category of 'doctrines that come from devils' . . . I leave it to you to decide whether the remainder of the quotation is an accurate description of the members of that Government !
What's to be done about the new law ? Well, I obviously can't answer that, if only because it's not yet a fait accompli, so we don't yet know the exact problem we have to solve : but at worst I suppose it may be that the only solution is to follow the example of Judas and throw the Government's thirty pieces of silver back at them, and for Catholics in the UK to fund their own educational system which teaches the truth, rather than being complicit in the demonic ideas of the Father of Lies . . . or maybe the wording of the Act will prove to be as sloppy as so much else of this Government's legislation, and the problem can be dealt with in that way.
I do know, though, that there is still a chance of saving our Catholic Schools from this abomination; and that we must all pray that the House of Lords rejects the Bill; which will in effect mean that it is dead, as there will be no realistic chance of getting it through before the General Election.
Of course that doesn't answer the question of why the Bishops apparently won't do anything about it. Perhaps they feel that it's best dealt with discreetly, in a quiet chat with Sir Humphrey at the Athenaeum ? I don't know . . . but I do know that their apparent silence provides no sort of public witness to the Catholic Faith which they swore at their consecrations to uphold; which is set forth in the Book of Gospels at that moment held over their heads; and which they were so very recently adjured by the Holy Father to proclaim fearlessly and without hesitation.
Politicians may work effectively in smoke-filled rooms; but Bishops should stand proudly in the marketplace and proclaim the truth of Christ - even as the rope is put around their necks, if necessary.
Are our Bishops doing that today ? I'm sorry, but I see no sign of it.
Moving back, though, to the politicians, and what is happening in Westminster, it seems to me that everything is not yet lost. Do you know G. K. Chesterton's poem 'The Secret People' ? It has a verse which seems to me to be very appropriate at the moment :
'They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs. '
If this rings a bell with you; if this seems to portray the current state of affairs in Westminster; well, do not despair of this matter being solved by the will of the Catholic population of our country, supported by many other people of goodwill who see this legislation for what it is - just remember the first lines of that same poem :
'Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget.
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet. '
It's alarming to think that it may ultimately be down to the people of God to stand up to this godless Government, without the support of their Shepherds : but if that is the case, so be it. I am - Deo Gratias - sure that there are plenty of priests and people in the parishes who will by the Grace of God stand firm in the Faith, and fight for it, whatever the Bishops do : and I would draw your attention to my post on Tuesday, which pointed out that crises are often a means of drawing us closer to God : let us hope that is the case with this, and that, whatever may happen, the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom is strengthened and blessed by our current trials.