Wednesday 6 February 2013

Some are more equal than others

I want to tell you of the experiences of a person who is part of a minority that often experiences discrimination and and inequality, indeed sometimes physical violence.  

He has been laughed at and shouted at in the street; he once had a glass of beer thrown at him; another time, because of the way he was dressed, had someone march up to him and with threats of aggression ask if he was a member of this minority.  He is often uncomfortable in identifying himself in public, for example travelling on a train or at the shops, because of people staring or pointing.  His right to hold views contrary to the majority in society around him is often called into question and indeed characterised as unacceptable. He often finds that he is casually lampooned in popular comedy; it is considered completely acceptable on Red Nose day and the like to dress up in tasteless mock-ups of what he wears to identify himself.

To what minority does he belong?  Is this a person of colour? Gay? Foreign? Transgendered? Muslim? Disabled?

No, these are not the cause of the above incidents.  The person is me and the trigger for the above inequalities and prejudice is the fact that I am a Catholic Priest.  

The minority whose rights and way of life need to be protected in law in our modern society are Christians.  Our society is moving very quickly towards a scenario - indeed it is already there in many areas - where it is impossible to offer, even just criticism, of any religious or secular minority except the Christian.  Those who have suffered discrimination in the past might be thought to be the very ones to protect all those in similar situations but history has often had the lesson that this is not so.  Our laws can go some way to limiting human sinfulness but they can also get it wrong for human law does not necessarily equate to what is good and right.  Only Divine Law can do that.

I am not alone in saying so!

Cardinal George a few months ago spoke of secularism as part of a “much larger issue” than any single campaign question. The secularized world, he added, is “on the wrong side of the only history that finally matters.”  He observed that strong anti-religious sentiments have emerged clearly during last year’s political campaigns in the USA, and said that he had been quoted accurately in predicting that “that I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

Cardinal Keith O'Brien was brave enough to speak out and then labelled "Bigot of the Year" by Stonewall, an organisation well-known for its tolerance and generosity that would never seek to marginalise or ridicule those in disagreement with it.

Fr Z has a chilling post about this Brave New World of 'Tolerance'.

“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.”                        - GK Chesterton


Gertrude said...

The Sacred Priesthood is a noble and holy vocation. We should all pray both for our Priests and for Our Blessed Lord to provide us with more good and holy men who might offer themselves in this most noble of callings.

It is a sad fact of our times that all are judged by the sins of a few. May Almighty God forgive their ignorance.

Damask Rose said...

Beautifully explained Father. God Bless you and your priesthood.

Anonymous said...

Christ suffered taunts and mockery at his passion. When these unfortunate episodes occur just think of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the strength you need will be provided. God Bless you and your priesthood. Kevin

Anonymous please said...

Father Simon, you have my sympathies. But may I tell you of the experiences of a person who is also part of a minority that has often experienced discrimination and inequality - but, thankfully not yet, physical violence.
I have been shouted at down the phone by a priest who raged that I needed a lecture in Christian charity. I was ordered out of a parish meeting by my PP, without having spoken, and told I was a Jehovah's Witness. I was accused by another PP in a parish hall of being a Jehovah's Witness. I was told in writing by my bishop that my criticism of the Church's liturgy would drive my family from the practise of their religion (actually, I was not criticising the Church's liturgy but the way it was being celebrated by priests in the diocese). I was often told by teachers in my children's schools that I was the only person who complained about the RE syllabus (eg, the Mass is no longer a sacrifice but a celebratory meal. We have all moved on). Young priests have been told to avoid me.
To which minority do I belong? I am, what is classed as a traditional Catholic. When discussing basic matters of faith and liturgy in conversation a common response is: "Well, you would say that, wouldn't you."
Your discrimination comes from outside the Church; my discrimination comes from within my Church. Which is more hurtful? Thankfully, things are changing for me for the better, but I fear your discrimination may get worse.

Rhoslyn said...

God bless you Father! I am always proud to be in the presence of a priest, especially in public. You, and those who have chosen the religious life, are a public witness to the love of Christ just by wearing your clerical clothing whilst going about your daily life.