It once was held as gospel that Quebec was one of the most Catholic jurisdiction in the world. The clergy dominated virtually every field of public life, even to instructing the faithful how to vote, under pain of sin (“Le ciel est bleu, l’enfer est rouge”). Then came the cultural transformation known as “la revolution tranquille” and the Church was, in an instant wiped from institutions, government and influence in the public square.
In fact, for any idea, policy or moral position to be come from the Church was to automatically cast it in a disparaging light; discarded as out of date and unbefitting modern societies.
Through the years, this atheist orientation of sensus fidelium has inexorably moved Quebec from a position of just denying the Church, and the values it embodies, a public role in society, to now attaining its ultimate goal of punitively sanctioning the very expression of all theist voice, but particularly the voice of the Roman Catholic Church. Now, that wave of “anti-theism” has washed over the entire country.
One need only review the succession of anti-life, pro-homosexual and secularist initiatives from various Human Rights Commissions (the 21st century incarnation of a “drum trial” where laws of evidence and truth need not apply), bureaucratic persecution (such as its unfair application of a 10% limit on a Churches resources which can be used to teaching its view own view of the faith - a restriction not placed on other charities such as Planned Parenthood or other organizations that receive direct government funding) and successive court rulings (such as the reinterpretation of the word “sex” in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms from it’s original designation of ones gender to its current understanding as license for any and all forms of sexual orientation). Evidence is certainly mounting for the rights of current believers, individually and collectively in their Churches.
This is not a popular position for a priest to espouse, neither within and outside of the Church. Yet if we do not examine why the Church failed so completely in having any claim on the lives of today’s Quebecers, we will be doomed to repeat the process throughout the land. To do the same thing over & over again expecting a different result, is the very definition of insane. Bishop’s tend not to take kindly to such criticism from within the priestly ranks. It is certainly not the path for career advancement within the Church. The enemies of the faith love nothing more than to find and exploit any perceived division within the faith. No theologian ever receives more publicity than when they speak in opposition to Church teaching, usually seducing them further and further outside the embrace of orthodox teaching (ie: Matthew Fox, Charles Curran). This is not the case here.
Priests who are calling for the Canadian episcopal college to not keep silent as the Quebec Bishop’s did, are doing nothing more than fulfilling their mandate (as expressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his call for priests to embrace the new media forms of today to present the arguments for the faith and the rights of the Church) and pointing out the realities of todays ministerial challenges, as experienced by they who work in today’s spiritual trenches.
Lest dear reader you believe this to be little more than Christian (or Catholic) whining about its current situation, I point out that anti-Semitism has deep roots within western cultures, and Muslims who are demographically surging within western countries are also facing opposition to the public expression of their faith. It is upon this evidence as well that I support my contention that the modern secular model as applied today has revealed itself to be atheistic in its orientation.
After working for the many years in church ministry within Quebec and in bilingual parishes in Ontario, I understand only too well the challenge that faces the theist argument today. With these recent government and juridical initiatives, Canadian churches are indeed facing an increasingly hostile cultural environment, bent upon extinguishing every vestige of it voice from the public square.
Yet, it is not all doom and gloom for the Catholic Church. Vocations to the priesthood have been growing since 1985 worldwide. American branch of the church has recently rediscovered its voice in the great question of the day with more & more Bishops stepping forward to argue cogently and effectively for Christian values to be respected in legislation and within their courts. Given that they function this way within the most successful and powerful society in modern times should point the way for their Canadian brothers.
American politicians have also not been as reticent as their northern brothers to allow their faith to guide them in their legislative endeavors. (“If we ever forget that we're one nation under GOD, then we will be a nation gone under.” Ronald Reagan - is a good example). Perhaps their witness might also prod our Canadian politicians to honor their moral convictions and not continue to cave in the opponents of theist positions. If they cannot reconcile their faith and their politics, they should choose which camp they are in and cease to claim the cloak of faith in their electoral campaigns.
The voices of faith indeed have a hard row to travel. They need all the help they can get from their leaders if they want to withstand the assaults and persecution visited upon them by an atheistically oriented state. Let all people of faith pray that their leaders hear their cry, even from a simple parish priest.
About Fr. Tim
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