(Tridentine South Africa)
Analytical short article by Marc Aupiais
Recently, it has been confirmed, that the pope does in fact plan to visit the United kingdom, an influential European country. The visit, will probably happen around September this year. What has caused a lot of attention in the public domain recently, is the pope's comments on the British government, considered by local media in Great Britain: to be a direct or indirect attack on Great Britain's ruling Labour Party.
Catholic media, has additionally noted Pope Benedict XVI's statements, which were made to the Bishops of England and Wales to be a rebuke of the Bishops themselves. The issue of concern is a clash between homosexualist interests and those of the church. Great Britain recently forced Catholic adoption agencies to choose between adhering to Catholic principles which put the interests of children first, by denying homosexual couples adoption rights: as a child preferably needs a father and mother: and closing down their operations, or allowing homosexuals to adopt children in Catholic orphanages, famous for the extra work they do for society. More recently, the Labour party has attempted to introduce a bill to force the Catholic church to allow homosexual and women priests and bishops, and to not discriminate against homosexuals as youth workers or school principles. The bill, due to ardent campaigning has failed as yet to pass.
The Pope firstly congratulated Great Britain on its pursuit of equality, as he claimed was perceived as its reputation among many in the world, and then claimed that Great Britain was violating the right to religious freedom. He claimed that pushes by the British legislators via equality legislation, in fact violated natural law. In context, all of this was said to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales: on their compulsory Ad Limina visit to the Vatican, in which they were to report to the pope and confer with him about their mission in Great Britain. In further context, while secular media has mostly focussed on the pope's attack on the Labour party, Catholic analysts specializing in these matters, have clearly noted the pope's statements in the context of an open public rebuke of the British bishops.
The Pope called efforts by the British Labour lead government violations of "natural law", which he noted as the basis for equality among men. Unlike secular services who have largely misunderstood the concept of natural law as used by Benedict XVI, as a foundation block of South Africa's common law, and of Catholic thinking, I might note that the pope was not simply calling British legislation against the church, or sin. He was in fact calling it against natural reason, and against basic human rights, and legal concepts. Natural law is not seen as a theological law, but rather as the law binding all men, essentially, as reason and reasonable behaviour. Natural law, is in fact, as the pope attests indirectly: the basis of human rights and we might separately note, it is a basis of the concept of the United Nations. The pope's attack on the legislative campaign of the Labour party, was in fact much more serious an attack than reported in press. He was essentially calling the legislative scheme criminal.
Labour recently caused the closure of many catholic adoption agencies, due to their refusal to give homosexual couples the children they had in their care. According to an editorial by a homosexual in the Daily Mail, the British Government adoption houses give homosexuals first pick of the children needing adoption, and there was no logical purpose in forcing religious specialist adoption agencies, known for their extra efforts, to close down. Labour, effectively made it illegal to discriminate against adoptive parents, due to their incompatibility with Catholic morality. The Bishops of England and Wales, however, did not put up a united front on the issue, as with many other issues. Many in Catholic media view the British bishops' conference, as one which is not entirely loyal to either the Vatican, or the magisteriam of the church. Some have seen many bishops as complicit in the campaign Labour has already launched against the Catholic Church and religion in general.
Damien Thompson, blogs editor of the telegraph group, and widely considered the best source on British Catholicism, despite his, or perhaps due to his conservative attitude, seems to believe that the pope in fact was noting the views one bishop in particular, who had criticized his fellow bishops. We at South African Catholic News Service, have often observed Benedict XVI directly or indirectly quoting local bishops in such circumstances, and think this may well be the case.
According to Damien, writing on his Telegraph Media group blog, the pope was basing much of his commentary on the views of Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue, who he says criticized the Bishops of England and Wales for failing to uphold orthodoxy. Their seemingly divided response on issues that the papacy considers non-negotiable, may well be partially the focus of an address which did praise the Bishops and Britain a bit, but not much, and which was unusually blatant for a papal address. Often these statements in general are veiled quite deeply, but the intentions of the pope are here quite clear.
Even the Guardian, known for its intense dislike for Catholic religion and morality, has published criticism of the British government, and much of the British press, believed to have turned on Gordon Brown, have come out opposing the recent attempt to even further limit freedom of religion in great Britain. The pope's statements on morals, which affect public life and politics have certainly also made a splash, perhaps one which will stifle the legislative attacks of Labour's leadership death throws before the next election. Determining how social activist or religious groups, societies for the common good and democracy govern themselves- so far as social issues are concerned, has been seen by some as a severe violation of freedom of association, and therefore of principles of freedom of thought and participation in democracy.
In accordance with the concept of subsidiarity, it is unusual for the pope to directly intervene with legislative schemes. Abortionist, pro-homosexuality and feminist and secularist groups who were already going to protest the papal visit planned to Britain, are now noting even more so that they will be protesting. Included in the protests: films about Catholic sex abuse, which will certainly cheer up these sexual revolution protesters. Also being protested by secularists, is the bill for the papal visit. Not noted by the BBC and the like, is the fact that the pope is a head of a European state, due all pomp and ceremony. What is also not mentioned is that the pope has decided to cut back on what pomp and ceremony he is offered when he visits Britain.
As a front line between practical religious secularism, and secularists, Great Britain is certainly an important place to watch. In a world, where leadership is increasingly more important than mere titles and positions in governments, the Pope's statements have been able to reignite important debate in Great Britain. His rebuke of some of his bishops, who he has stated, he desires to united behind orthodoxy, and whom he has said must continue to debate public issues in a civilized and respectful manner will also not go unnoticed. We may well begin to see some thorough debate in the catholic Church in England and Wales, where it has often been reported that those desiring to better obey the Pope, are stifled by the local church hierarchy.
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