A “Culture of Life” and Ferment in the UK Church.

In the UK, as in the US, we have a vociferous band of self-appointed guardians of the faith, who regularly wail about departures from Catholic orthodoxy, wherever they perceive it. Most of the time, I prefer to ignore their bleatings. Just recently though, I have been paying more attention, as they are now meeting strong resistance where it counts. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pope and Cameron’s Big Society

In the run-up to the UK general election, David Cameron’s big idea was the “Big Society” – the idea that he would encourage community groups to initiate projects themselves, rather than waiting for the state to do everything for them. However, for “big society” to develop projects, they must be allowed to promote ideas. It has now become clear that he is only prepared to allow the ideas, and hence “big society” projects, that he approves of.

A recent dramatic news story here concerned a recently released prisoner who immediately shot an ex-girlfriend and killed her new boyfriend.  This was then followed by a protracted manhunt, tracked daily on national TV news, culminating in a distasteful scene where, under heavy police guard, he ended by shooting himself, all in front of the TV cameras. This was then followed by the stupidity of a Facebook page mourning his death, and treating him, a  clear murderer, as an innocent victim.  Pretty stupid, but any sane person would know that Facebook can produce some idiocies.  The best thing is simply to ignore them. Not Mr Cameron -he used his authority as PM to pressure Facebook into shutting down the page.

 

Peter Tatchell

A more serious example concerns the upcoming papal visit.

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Un-Catholic at Pride: Protest the Pope, or Ignore Him?

While walking down Oxford Street with other gay/lesbian Catholics, I suddenly found myself faced with a BBC television camera and reporter. “What,” she asked, “do you think of the pope’s UK visit?”

This has become highly topical, and highly emotional here. Even today, there are some permanent tensions which have their background in the historical development of the Anglican church, and the subsequent suppression of the Catholic faith, when Catholicism was seen as a form of treason (and incidentally, lumped  together with heresy and sodomy as the greatest of sins against religion. Today, traces of the legal restrictions remain in the unequal status of the “established” Anglican church and the others, while deep suspicion lingers in some quarters about the Catholic (and other) faith schools, about the regular interventions by Catholic bishops in political debates on abortion legislation,  civil partnerships / gay marriage, gay adoption rights, and most recently about the successful attempts to thwart parts of recent equality legislation intended to prevent discrimination by church employers. The stories of clerical abuse and inadequate church response over the past year have simply added to the hostility of a small anti-Catholic minority, and a wider anti-papal/ anti-Vatican feeling of some others (including many progressive Catholics). What has really added fuel to the fire, is that this is to be treated as a state visit, with substantial cost to the British taxpayer, at a time when the new government is announcing plans to slash expenditure across a wide front. No wonder some people are angry.

This particularly includes the LGBT community, and so there was a strong anti-papal presence at the London Pride parade, with a banner, and leaflet distributors. The reporter in front of me was clearly preparing a program not on Gay Pride specifically, but a broader current affairs program on the papal visit, with gay and gay Catholic reactions just one element. Read the rest of this entry »