Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, RIP

Pope Francis says he is appreciative of the Christian values that underpinned Margaret Thatcher's commitment to service and promotion of freedom.

He affirmed this in a message sent today on his behalf by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

"His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher," the papal message stated. "He recalls with appreciation the Christian values which underpinned her commitment to public service and to the promotion of freedom among the family of nations. Entrusting her soul to the mercy of God, and assuring her family and the British people of a remembrance in his prayers, the Holy Father invokes upon all whose lives she touched God’s abundant blessings."

In 1978 Catholic Herald editor Richard Dowden interviewed Margaret Thatcher while she was still leader of the Opposition.  

I asked her what memories she had of those early years in the Methodist Church.
“Methodism isn’t just a religion for Sundays – no faith is only a faith for Sundays."
Although she apparently moved towards Anglicanism, preferring a more formal style, it was that strict upbringing in the Christian faith that presumably gave her some of her driving force.  I often lament that so few Catholics seem to be active in public life.  We should really be over represented in all areas of public service.  The Second Vatican Council was clear on the call to the laity to act as leaven in the world and yet it does sometimes feel that in recent times there has been less active Catholic engagement out in the world, rather than more.  The great myth is that before the Council Catholics were introverted and closed in on themselves and yet now I don't see huge numbers of Catholic local councilors or members of parliament.  Indeed, in what is now typical of the laity's "activism", those who are Catholics are much are likely to be engaging in political lobbying to change the Church's teaching than getting on with changing the world, like those politicians who recently wrote to Pope Francis calling for the rule on priestly celibacy to be changed You might have thought they would have let him draw breath after his election before launching in with this or perhaps written to ask his fatherly advice on how they might be better Catholic politicians, but no, they would rather lobby him to conform to the world - and leave the Faith as a hobby for Sunday, presumably.

No Faith is only a Faith for Sundays but sadly for many practising Catholics, that's just what it appears to be.  Views and understandings of the world and the daily living out of life seem, for the most part, exactly the same as their non-Catholic neighbours - informed much more by the television, media and popular culture than the teachings of the Church.  Indeed most Catholics appear to have almost no ability to defend the Faith to themselves, let alone to the world, having had no grounding in school to enable them to do so and no preaching from the pulpit to challenge the dominant world view around them.

It might be true to say, "All you need is love" but if it's Love with capital "L" then you also need a theological and philosophical underpinning to drive putting it into practice in the world.  (And in case anyone is wondering, the fitting worship of God in our Catholic Tradition can only assist in doing that because it teaches and inspires, it looks outward, forward and upward and not just inward in the closed circle of desacralised worship!)


Anonymous said...

Well said Father.

In Domino,


Patricius said...

I don't think we can blame the holy father for this but "Christian values"? She voted for the 1967 Abortion act and against attempts to reduce abortions by lowering the age limit. Seemed more like a Pelagian to me...but I'm no expert.

James said...

Ronald Reagan was pro-life; Margaret Thatcher supported abortion, embryo experiments, IVF, etc. - and voted on if not promoted the very legislation allowing it. So, like Patricius I cannot see exactly which Christian values were protected under her watch, and this glaring omission must surely feature prominently in the Catholic account of her public activities.

Having said that, at the end of my life I know I will have to throw myself on God's mercy. May God have mercy on Mrs Thatcher too, and on us all, and may we all meet merrily in heaven.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"...Pope Francis says he is appreciative of the Christian values that underpinned Margaret Thatcher's commitment to service and promotion of freedom...."

Someone needs to explain to the Pope the difference between Freemason Protestant 'Christian' values and Traditional Roman Catholic values.

One leads straight to Hell, the other towards...three guesses/


jonty said...

It is hard to see anything Christian in her values. Her philosophy was essentially Every many for himself and the devil take the hindmost.

David O'Neill said...

Whilst I too wish more Catholic politicians would follow Church teaching, it must be noted that they (largely) don't. My MP is a Catholic woman who proudly voted for same-sex 'marriage'. Her argument was that she welcomed diversity. She did not respond to my enquiry about her lack of support for Church teaching.
I also find it sub human the way some of her opponents are rejoicing at her death. She was, after all, someone's mother & grandmother. Such 'rejoicing' simply highlights the lack of humanity of those who 'rejoice'

Fr Simon Henry said...

However, in response to some comments, please note that Pope Francis wrote, "the Christian values which underpinned her commitment to public service". Not any particular policies but her drive to get out there and do things - which was the main point of my further musings in the post.

RJ said...

Clericalisation of the laity leads to a preoccupation with ministries within the Church than ministry to society, which is the proper role of the laity.

Rubricarius said...

Thank you Fr. for this post. Whatever one may think of her Baroness Thatcher was a great prime minister and a great politician. I suspect I, personally disagreed with 70% of her policies but after the chaos of the 1970s the change in 1979 was a breath of fresh air. The tragedy was, I suspect, that she was ridiculed by the Tory grandees for her lowly start in life and also for being a woman. The abrasiveness she could, at times, exhibit I would suggest has that as its origin. I was touched to hear of the numerous acts of kindness she carried out to those she knew and to those she worked with and those acts need to be considered in the overall appraisal of the lady. May she RIP.