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.”
ANTI-CATHOLICISM: There’s a barbarian at the gate! He’s got a sword!
This is , like most things on here, an entirely personal view – but I detect a certain sort of pride on this blog (sinful, of course) that, like Catholics in the distant and not-so-distant past – that ‘we are being persecuted.’
Persecuted is when your people are killed and your churches burned, when your faith is outlawed.
The Church has been both on the receiving and dishing-out ends of the likes of that over the years.
It has been all too happy do its share of persecuting when it got the chance, and would do so again, with alacrity, I suspect, particularly after becoming acquainted with blogs of this nature. I may be wrong.
A great deal of Christian activity in Europe today, far from being hated and feared and fought over as it was in the past (usually by other Christians over some obscure point of protocol) is now either ignored or smiled at. How bad is that? It doesn’t hurt! Being roasted on a spit hurts!
The reaction to the current peado-scandals is generally not amazed horror, ”How can that happen?” – it’s a shrug of the shoulders and a ”What did you expect from that lot?” I have heard it myself. We probably all have.
Bit of proportion needed here. Fewer accusations of ‘fanaticism.’
Sorry for hogging the blog.
But I have just read the attached article. ”Homosexual sexual acts violate the Natural Law” it says.
But then, maybe flying does.
As the old saying goes, ”If God had meant us to fly, he would have given us tickets.”
..And how about miracles?
Toadspittle, may I respectfully suggest that you are overstating the case in two ways?
First, ‘The possibility looms that our position will be censored from the public debate’ – which is what the clip I posted actually says – is not the same as ‘we are being persecuted’. The Church certainly knows what persecution is – with more martyrs in the 20th Century than in the rest of history, many of them in Europe. In the 21st century, South America currently leads as the most dangerous place to be a pastoral worker, with 23 (18 priests, 2 seminarians, 1 sister, and 2 lay persons) of the 39 pastoral workers killed in 2009. In Europe last year, there was only one.
And yes, people who feel threatened can be vicious, and the people of the church have certainly been guilty of this over the years.
Second, regarding the view in Europe, I can’t speak from personnal experience. But if you are going to judge Catholics by blog postings, I suggest applying the same criteria to atheists and other non-Catholics who post on blogs in England. I visit US, Australian, Canadian, Irish, and Kiwi blogs. I have been shocked at the determined misinformed malice against the Church displayed by posters in the UK. It pops up occasionally elsewhere, but certainly not to the same extent. Even if these posters are in a minority, I do not find at all reassuring your assertion that the rest of society has a low opinion of ‘that lot’. For real persecution to begin, it is only necessary for a few to act and those people who are indifferent to the Church to do nothing.
Its interesting that each “civilisation”, as it reaches its height, spirals into hedonism, decay and debauchery.
Persia fell, Greece fell and so did Rome and the Ottoman Empire.
Britain had its Empire but now we cannot summon up enough belief in ourselves to even accept that the English race even exists. Mongrels.
America is on the wane, Russia fell apart. And yet we still keep on trying. I wonder how much longer the EU has?
Don’t worry. There will be, always is, a day of reckoning. A day when everything comes apart and people have to re-learn that which they have forgotten.
When the amazed horror comes, it is already too late.
Joyful, militant atheists of today are the same bigots like the religious fundamentalists they despise. I have more respect for the atheists of the old style, but today the Dawkins crowd are irrational and uncivilized. Young men who just want to show that they are better guys than other people only because they hate religion. And who tries to show his superiority through hatred is in the same category like the extreme nationalists who show how superior they are through showing their hatred to foreigners and immigrants.
As for persecution, it is coming, in Austria a law is now issued which forbids Christians to pray in the public street before an abortion clinic. And I saw a video in which the owner of a famous abortion clinic in Vienna hired rowdies to harass Christians who prayed peacefully before his clinic. The video is too vulgar and I don’t like to link to it, it can be watched at gloria.tv. The police did nothing, though it was most obviously sexual attack on the Christian prayers. And in an atheist demonstration for abortion, Christians who prayed were spat upon and the atheist demonstrators destroyed an expensive camera of the gloria.tv team, but the police let the aggressor go without taking down her personal details. And in Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany, in a peaceful procession and demonstration for the unborn life, the atheist youth threw condoms which were filled with water to the Christian demonstrators and were very aggressive. Police had to intervene. But in Germany the police still do something, in Austria not.
If we don’t try to defend our rights, the amazed horror will come, and very soon. And the religious freedom belongs to the basis of Democracy, Europe will become an atheist dictatorship if Christians don’t organize themselves and defend their Religious Freedom.
Christianity is the very foundation and nourishment of European culture, it is appalling to see how the youth today deny their heritage and ancestors.
And fire was set in a Catholic Church in Vienna.
Dictators hate religion because religion is not controllable through the state machinery. And why atheists hate religion? Because it is a domain where they are powerless. They want to control and manipulate the mind and thinking of other people. But in religion a person has the real freedom which can’t be abolished despite the brainwashing done now at schools and everywhere in the modern society.
“It has been all too happy do its share of persecuting when it got the chance, and would do so again, with alacrity, I suspect, particularly after becoming acquainted with blogs of this nature. I may be wrong”.
You are, toadspittle.
Whilst the Church has (almost) always fought against heresies, the persecution of other religions has certainly never been her speciality. Jewish communities have been exhisting in Christian territories for two thousand years without interruption; never has conversion been forced upon them, never has the Church ordered the burning of synagogues.
There have occasionally been episodes of a less edifying nature, generally moved by sincere desire to advance Christianity and help the souls of the unbelievers (Paul IV’s bull cum nimis absurdum of 1555 comes to mind). But to say that the Church has “been all too happy to do its share of persecuting” is a vast exhaggeration.
As so many people, you conjure the somewhat sterner face of the Church of the past ( a Church which was not only more orthodox, but in line with the sterner customs of past centuries) with images of bloodthirsty inquisitors (the Inquisition had no jurisdiction over non-Christians btw) and all kind of atrocities.
The Church was not harsher, but softer than the secular authorities, even then.
“They did not want to hear the Christians and their opposition to abortion and the practice of “exposure” (the killing of newborns) in Rome.”
Thanks Joyful Papist, beautiful if sad considerations.
I would like to add another reflection: that whilst the Romans who exposed babies at least did not claim to be Christians, nowadays’ abortionists do!
Mr. Obama, he who thinks that his daughters would be “punished with a pregnancy” if they were to remain pregnant (and I still think that the parents may do an awful lot to prevent this and have made an awful lot of mistakes before her daughters even begins to think of putting themselves in such a position) sees himself as a Christian and attends a Protestant church. How this is compatible with the late term abortion he has immediately reinstated upon entering office does not seem to be of any concern to him.
TERESA: at 9.40
Interesting to hear that dictators hate religion. Ben might disagree with you on that. He is a big Salazar fan.
I, while by no means a Franco fan, suggest that the ‘Generalissimo’ was rather keen on religion. Indeed, he wanted to totally wipe out anything but Catholicism in his country. With guns and things. Pregnant women included.
(Maybe I should change my atavar to Toadissimo.)
Yes, when all falls apart, the Church will still be standing there, ready to re-civilise, re-propose to Man the Gospel and the Sacraments of Jesus Christ. And Man? He will listen for a time and a time, then slip back into his worship of self, money and power and sin. And so it will be until the End.
So we are not unfortunate to live in such times as now. Our Catholic predecessors have always had such times to live in (more or less bad as now) and those who come after us too. We must fight, fight, and fight again.
Dear Moratinos, because you live in Spain, your world view is too much confined to this country. I hope you would consider the vast world as a whole, as I know how it is like when Religious Freedom is suppressed by the State.
Error, dear Toad, has no rights.
Teresa, I am not utterly unaware of the rest of the world. Before moving to Spain sfour years ago, I spent 16 years in The States and before that many years in England. I still keep ‘plugged in’ as it were to both those places – thanks to Modern Science. Thanks, modern science!
(Particular thanks to Burro for anesthetics.)
”I know how it is like when Religious Freedom is suppressed by the State.”
Says Teresa. Yes, and you would have known it a good deal better had you lived in Franco’s Spain, and not been a Catholic…
Trying to deal with all the comments on this blog, is like trying to deal with the BP oil spill.
Only today, BP seems to be having better luck than I.
Time to bathe a dog.
Dear Moratinos, I have never been in Spain, but I read a passage in Hemingway’s For whom the bell tolls, which shows that it was not simply white and black in the Spanish Civil War.
The passage describes how the peasants, under the command of the socialists, killed all their opponents and the priest with their frail, and how one “fascist”, who was only gone to the Fascists because her wife was a devoted Catholic, was killed as well, and how his wife was despaired as she saw her husband was beaten to death. Please read this passage, it is deeply human. The world shall not be split in ideological camps, of which each hates the other. We are all human beings, and we shall try to understand the history from a human aspect, as Hemingway did. He wrote, as I remember, in the same book, “it is Christian to try to understand”. And his description of the International Brigades is also very sobering. He who joined the socialist camp during the Spanish Civil War. Don’t be blinded through prejudices and hatred, that is what I learned from the great men of human history.
I have first been in Spain as a child, with my parents. Franco had gone to his heavenly reward just a couple of years earlier, the Avenida Diagonal was still called “Avenida del Generalisimo Franco” and he was still in the coins. Compared with the rhetoric of “backward, poor rural country” common in Italy the country was rather well off. Not like central Italy, but not very far.
My father took fun in stopping people on the street, showing them a coin and asking in an extremely broken Spanish who this omnipresent chap was. The answers were a bit of everything, from “a pig” to “a saint” (great fun to check in the vocabolary by every word we didn’t know), but the vast majority of those “interviewed” certainly did not have any ill feelings towards him.
I’d be very glad to die with the same odds of avoiding damnation as he had. Moratinos, I think it wouldn’t be a bad deal for you, either.
We have to judge Salazar and his regime by what was happening around him. A bankrupt secular-liberal State, not one balanced budget since 1910, when the monarchy was toppled after 1,000 years; extremely antipathetical forces on right and left; infrastructure (what there was) falling apart; the spectre of Communism.
Salazar balanced the budget in his very first year in power, and balanced every budget thereafter until his stroke in the late 1960’s forced him to retire; he kept Portugal out of the Second World War, despite enormous pressure put on him by the Austrian Corporal; he invested very heavily in infrastructure, most of which is still working and formed the basis for new works funded by the EU; he suppressed the enemies of religion, the nation and all goodness (the Communists). About 200 people were executed in his years in power: a laughably small number for one provincial USSR town’s NKVD-OGPU output for a month in the 20’s and 30’s. His “Corporate State” explicitly tried to put into reality the great Social Teaching Encyclicals of Leo XIII and other Popes.
He was one of the very greatest men of the twentieth century and I for one revere his memory. The children here in Portugal, including my daughter, are taught in school that he was a monster: this is a laughable socialist propaganda outright lie. The older generations hold him in high regard – but are not allowed to voice the opnion in public.
Actually Ben I lived in Portugal when it was a dictatorship, and I have to say that apart from the many questions, having to register annually with the Embassy in Lisbon I would say that Portugal was a far more practising Catholic country then than it appears to be now.
The Faith is still alive here, but under great pressure: one, because of secularisiation and relativism, as everywhere; two, because of the Modernism of the Church here; three, because of the collapse of Catholic morality.
Drugs, rampant infidelity, desire for money – all eat away at the Faith and at the fabric of society itself.
”The world shall not be split in ideological camps, of which each hates the other.”
Maybe you should read this blog, with its ravings about ‘left wing fanatics’ a little more carefully, Teresa…
You’re absolutely right, Toad, one can’t but rave at left-wing fanatics.
Mundabor on July 16 at 10:20 said
“communities have been exhisting in Christian territories for two thousand years without interruption; never has conversion been forced upon them, never has the Church ordered the burning of synagogues.”
Stuff and nonsense. Just read up on our friend St. Vincent Ferrer, Castile, 1390-1397. Forced conversions, lynch mobs, virulent and hateful “sermons” that led to his righteous followers burning entire Jewish neighborhoods and murdering everyone who lived there. Sad but true. It´s history. Maybe the officials didn´t order it, but the Christians sure as shootin´ did the deeds, over and over again. But in official Catholic teaching Vincent is held up as a great “evangelist” to the Jews and Muslims, too — in the great Spanish point-of-the-sword tradition.
Trouble is we’re all sinners and do things for which we have to ask forgiveness.
I’m not sure that aliens is the right word…sojourners is more appropriate. here we have no abiding city – (Hebrews)
Sojourner is nice. ‘Alien’ has other connotations in today’s world, but I was thinking of the definition ‘owing allegiance to another country or land’ – in this case, the heavenly kingdom.
There is a left-wing Christian group in the US called the Sojourners …
What about ‘pilgrim’?
I like ‘pilgrim’ – just passing through, on the way to a special destination.
I once heard that Australians refer to motorcyclists as ‘temporary citizens’.
Have you heard that one (kiwi) JP? 😉
I hadn’t heard that, but I like it!