Looking something else up yesterday evening, I found a passage in Gaudium & Spes (The Pastoral Constitution of Vatican II on ‘The Church in the Modern World’ – Chapter 4, para.76) which I found very interesting reading.
You may do too :
‘The Church herself makes use of temporal things insofar as her own mission requires it. She, for her part, does not place her trust in the privileges offered by civil authority. She will even give up the exercise of certain rights which have been legitimately acquired, if it becomes clear that their use will cast doubt on the sincerity of her witness or that new ways of life demand new methods. It is only right, however, that at all times and in all places, the Church should have true freedom to preach the faith, to teach her social doctrine, to exercise her role freely among men, and also to pass moral judgment in those matters which regard public order when the fundamental rights of a person or the salvation of souls require it. In this, she should make use of all the means – but only those – which accord with the Gospel and which correspond to the general good according to the diversity of times and circumstances.’
Reading it, I wondered whether the Bishops have read it recently : and if they have, to what extent they believe it remains applicable ?
‘The Church should have true freedom to pass moral judgment in those matters which regard public order when the fundamental rights of a person or the salvation of souls require it.’
What have we seen recently ? In England & Wales, at least, the Bishops have quietly ignored the opportunity to pass any sort of moral judgment on the moral bankruptcy of the Government’s legislation and policies : indeed, they have apparently been involved in the formulation of them, and have even appeared to support them.
Yet the issues involved include abortion and ‘assisted suicide’ - issues which one might reasonably have thought came into the category of matters in which ‘the fundamental rights of a person or the salvation of souls’ might require - even demand - that they speak out.
Why have they stayed silent ? We don’t know . . .
I just hope that they do.