British Bishops have warned the Parliament that legislation that is currently before it might be used to force the Catholic Church to ordain women and married men. What protection that exists is framed as a position where the majority of work time is sacramental, ie)priest = agent of sacraments. But as a clergyman I know that the majority of my time is spent taking care of more pedantic affairs such as caring for church property, paperwork etc., or at best religious work that a lay person can also accomplish, visiting the sick, cathechetical instruction or sacramental preparation.
Given the growing adversarial relationship that exists between the forces of faith and the forces of secularism, is it wise to vest in one side or the other the right to so profoundly and directly impose their will upon the other?
Experiences in Quebec clearly demonstrate the folly of the Church accepting the promise of good faith or favorable interpretation of the language of the legislation. For issue after issue, the Quebec Bishops quietly acquiesced to one intrusion after another, only to find the "firm commitment" of politicians melt like spring ice when the climate of the times changes. Now faith is effectively shuttered within the walls of its churches as it has been excluded from every other instrument of the public square and articulate voices of faith, such as the offerings of Cardinal Ouellette in Quebec City.
The British Bishops have every reason to be worried if history is indeed a good teacher.
10 December, 2009
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