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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Sunday, September 19, 2010
On Friday Pope Benedict spoke to representatives of British society in Westminster Hall. This is where Thomas More uttered his famous speech after being condemned to a horrible death, which speech is faithfully recorded in the film A Man for All Seasons. The Pope once again acknowledged the great stable democratic traditions of our country which has led us to support free speech, to a certain “moderation” and, for instance, to abolish the slave trade. He thus went on to suggest that “the central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found?”

He pointed out that “If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident”. He argued that such rationality without an awareness of God as its foundation has led to the “misuse of reason [which] gave rise to the slave trade [...] and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century.”

Reason without religion is irrational. It eventually collapses from not being founded properly. A humanity which does not put God ahead of Self is in real danger.

“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.” I seems that the nation he had mainly in mind was that whose political and cultural leaders were sitting before him – yes that’s us folks.

Ultimately the British people are being faced this weekend with a choice: which comes first: me or God? Do we want to cultivate the traditional Christian practice of saying ‘no’ to self in order to say ‘yes’ to God with greater power?

Pope Benedict is doing what all Popes have done and have to do. Handing on Jesus’s teaching. This happens to resonate with fashionable opinion less in contemporary Britain than at any other time or place in history. Yet the less this message has influence in our country the greater the rage of our opinion formers – as if the latter want, as some have said, to wipe the Catholic Church off the very face of the earth, so they can be free to create their Brave New World without the one remaining coherent opposition.

posted by Sinead Reekie at 2:40 pm