Catholic Online has an editorial on the rise of anti-Catholicism in the West. The whole thing is worth reading, but I was particularly struck by the following paragraphs, which compare the prevailing culture during the time of the early Church with the culture we live in today.
There is a Cultural Revolution underway in the West with two conflicting visions of the human person, human freedom, human flourishing and true marriage and the family founded upon it as the first cell of a just society. The possibility looms that our positions on these matters of importance for all men and women, including those of other faiths or no faith at all, will be censored from the public debate if we do not resist. We need to remember history. The early Christians were not persecuted for “religion” but as “enemies of the State” and for “hatred of the human race.” This charge of “Hatred of the Human Race” was directed by those within an ancient Rome which had lost its respect for the dignity of all human life while claiming to be enlightened. They practiced primitive forms of abortion as well as “exposure”, the killing of unwanted newborns.
First and second century Rome was one of the mission fields of the early Church. It proclaimed itself the shining example to the world of its age while it embraced debauchery. In an eerie parallel, the history of ancient Rome reveals that hostility toward the Christians grew as the citizens of this once great empire continued in their spiraling moral decline. They did not want to hear the Christians and their opposition to abortion and the practice of “exposure” (the killing of newborns) in Rome. The Roman infatuation with hedonism was threatened by the Christian insistence on monogamous family as the first society and the foundation of civilization.
One of the ancient Christian manuscripts from that age, the Didache, written to a pagan inquirer, spoke of the distinctly different practices of the Christians: “They reside in their respective countries, but only as aliens. They take part in everything as citizens and put up with everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their home, and every home a foreign land. They marry like all others and beget children but they do not expose (kill or abandon) their offspring. Their board they spread for all, but not their bed.”