Friday, February 24, 2012

Denial: A Swamp In Ireland...?

It is a fact that persecutors never consider themselves persecutors - their campaign against a certain group makes utter sense to them, and if people are complaining or objection, then they are just creating trouble.  We know this attitude to be "denial", and it seems The Irish Times is in denial when it comes to the fact of aggressive secularism and its mission to exorcise religion from society.

David Quinn takes the paper to task in his column in The Irish Catholic.  It is a must read.  Living in Ireland in these times we meet this denial every day.  Catholics can be treated badly, made fun of, attacked in the media, and yet the media and some public representatives cannot actually see that they are being prejudiced.

On Tuesday night, as I was coming back from our Film Club, I was listening to Marc Coleman on Newstalk.  He is a fine broadcaster, one of the fairest in Ireland.  At one point he raised the issue of prejudice against Catholics, citing some of the points David Quinn makes in his article above.  The reaction was most interesting: his guests were taken aback that such treatment of the Church was unjust or prejudiced; after all, they said, the Church abused children and the Vatican covered it all up. 

Coleman did his best to explore their reaction, but it was obvious the anti-Catholic prejudice was so deep his guests could not see that there was anything wrong.   The old anti-Catholic myths are well engrained, and thanks to the growth in aggressive secularism in Ireland (and, I suspect, knee jerk reactions against the Church's moral teachings - many Irish are now happily contracepting, cohabiting, aborting).  They are desperate to believe that all evil is now found in the Catholic Church, they will not listen to anything that contradicts their prejudice or might shake them out of their denial.

It seems denial is not merely a river in Egypt, but a swamp in Ireland.

Youcef Nadarkhani, his wife and children

In related news I see that the Iranian pastor convicted of apostasy from Islam (though he was never formally a Muslim, just from a Muslim background) is due to be executed quickly.   Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in 2009, tried and convicted: his appeal was lost.  He was offered a chance to recant his Christian faith three times in order to save his life: he refused.  The order for his execution has been signed.

God grant him strength.  Please remember him, his wife and their two children in your prayers.  Martyrdom is glorious and brings an eternal reward, but it is difficult and the sorrow of loss is no less painful.  May the Lord grant him and his family the graces they need at this time.  If he is to shed his blood, may it bring about the conversion of those who killed him and of the whole of Iran.   There is no better "revenge" than to see one's enemies come to embrace Christ and be reconciled with those they have oppressed.

And here's something we all knew for some time.  Evidence of sex-selection abortions is coming to light and SPUC are trying to lobby David Cameron's government in the UK to cut its ties with private abortion providers.  Sex-selective abortions are the norm in China - with the one child only policy, many couples, when they discover they are expecting a girl, abort the child in the hope of having a boy next time.  This has led to a serious gender imbalance in China. 

Elective abortions tend to sex-based, and it is females who are being killed.  That is the ultimate irony: the radical feminists want abortion for the sake of their "liberation", yet it is females who comprise the larger number of those "terminated" - there's liberation for you!  If this continues we may not have to worry about feminism at all - women will end up as a minority gender, as in China, and guess what, we might just see the return of the old monster, Inequality. 

The same is true of black people: in the US the majority of those who are aborted are Afro-American - indeed 60% of Planned Parenthood clinics in the US are situated in Afro-American neighbourhoods even though Afro-Americans only make up 12.2% of the population - doesn't add up, or does it?  We might need to consult Margaret Sanger to understand that one. 

By the way I am told that, given demographic changes, the population of Afro-Americans in the US should be 16% by now, but it seems since Roe v Wade, the expected 3% never made it.    The Rev. Martin Luther King must be turning in his grave: I do not think this is the dream he was talking about - rather it seems to be a nightmare.

And to end on an upbeat note.  Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury is issuing a Lenten pastoral letter on Sunday in which he will deal with the reality of hell.  Bishop Davies is one of the more remarkable bishops in England and a wonderful teacher and defender of the faith.  In fact I think he may well be tipped for Westminster: he would make a fine Archbishop and Cardinal.

Hell is one of the "no-no" topics when it comes to homilies: I remember greeting a delegation seven months into my first appointment in Drogheda: the concerned delegation consisted of one man who felt he represented the whole parish.  The gentleman wanted to point out how dreadful a priest I was because I was always preaching about hell.  In the seven months I had only mentioned it once or twice, and then only in passing but it was enough to send this man over the edge.  I took note of his objections, and resolved to preach a full homily on hell the next time it popped up in the readings, which I did.  He was not impressed. 

I'd say there will be many who will not be impressed with Bishop Davies's letter, but thank God for his forthrightness in teaching the fullness of the faith.  Thanks to the prevalence of "therapeutic Catholicism", many people cannot accept that there is always a possibility that we may not make it to heaven: that we have to take personal responsibility for our lives in order to avoid damnation.  That's not being negative, it's just being real.

We are living in interesting times.  The new translation is bringing back reverence to the Mass, the HHS mandate in the US is uniting bishops and reminding Catholics of the inherent sinfulness of contraception, abortion and sterilization, and an English bishop is preaching the fullness of the faith: these may well be signs that the reform has started.  "From your lips to God's ears" as my friend Pat in New York would say: Amen!

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