What should discerning Catholics be expecting when the Pope begins his visit to Great Britain?
1. Expect a lot of nasty rhetoric
The anti-Catholic activists have been stirring up their follower for several weeks now, with some generous assistance from the mass media. In the last few days before the Pope's trip, the rhetorical temperature had risen high enough to prompt the Irish Catholic to denounce a "wave of anti-Catholic hate" sweeping the country. Criticism of the Church has become almost an obsession, and old-fashioned undisguised anti-Catholic bigotry has become socially acceptable. A little group led by the atheist campaigner Richard Dawkins managed to attract publicity with its absurd calls for the arrest of the visiting Pontiff. A television network aired a nasty attack "documentary" on the Pope, focused heavily on the sex-abuse crisis, directed by a gay-rights activist. (That activist, by the way, has advocated lowering the age of consent for sexual activity, putting him in a strange position to criticize priests who prey on teenagers!) The anti-papal frenzy will undoubtedly produce some nasty public demonstrations, to which the media will surely provide extensive coverage.
To complicate matters, the English hierarchy has been reluctant to engage in any sort of head-on confrontation with the reigning secular culture. The bishops will answer the anti-Catholic charges gently, quietly, and sometimes not altogether persuasively. When he tackles the most controversial issues of the day-- as he will, because he always does-- Pope Benedict will be exposed to more criticism, and it is not clear that the British hierarchy will speak out to deflect that criticism. In fact, one of the more delicate challenges facing the Holy Father during this trip may be the effort to persuade the British bishops that they must be bolder in confronting secularism. The unabated anti-Catholic frenzy that we are now witnessing shows how far the forces of secularism have advanced, often largely unopposed.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
What To Expect From The Pope's Visit to Great Britain
A very accurate and timely article from Phil Lawler: