Daily Archives: June 17, 2010

Archbishop Nichols and Catholic Values or: How Not To Do It.

The fashion has changed. The thinking hasn't. Source: The Daily Telegraph.

The Catholic Church in England has launched a 32-page booklet in preparation of the Papal visit. The aim of the booklet is to explain, well, what Catholicism is and of course to hover once again over the child abuse scandal, the “Telegraph” reports.

Leaving aside the usual imprecision of daily newspaper journalism (Archbishop Nichols is not the head of Catholics in England and Wales. The Pope is.) what once again transpires is the desire to leave the Catholic message to very expensive PR exercises. Sadly, this is never going to work as the Church in England and Wales will never have so much money to squander on such initiatives that it may make a permanent impact on the faithful and the country.

What we need is a continued effort of serious catechesis. As everyone living in England knows, this is – with some fortunate exceptions like the Oratorians and the rare courageous priest here and there – certainly not the case. Most emphatically so in the case of Archbishop Nichols who – among other things – still continues to tolerate homo masses in Soho, in the heart of his diocese, in an outrageous initiative set in motion by his predecessor and scandalously not yet repealed by him notwithstanding the repeated calls of Conservative Catholics from England and abroad. As per today, no other English diocese (not even among the champions of trendy Catholicism, like Arundel And Brighton) tolerates such a shame.

Archbishop Nichols thinks that he can avoid telling it straight (and hard) and substitute the necessary and salutary harshness of the Catholic message with expensive booklet printing, press conferences and other media initiatives of dubious efficacy. Not so. Catholicism is defended at the homily every Sunday; with a serious catechesis and catechism lessons for children; with RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the obligatory course of those wishing to convert) classes that are more than a collection of platitudes with some vague notions of Catholicism thrown in, and only provided that they are not too uncomfortable.

The way out is not in booklet printing. The way out is in promoting the teaching and relentless defense of undiluted Catholic values again. Catholicism is not a PR exercise, but a pastoral work which belongs in the church, through the priest. Catholicism in this country has become an exercise in playing down the differences with Anglicans and other Protestants, rather than of stressing them; a continuous effort in not angering people, rather than pointing out to their errors; a relentless attempt to not go against secular values (“niceness”, “tolerance”, “inclusiveness” at all costs) rather than a daily challenge to them.

Actions speak louder than booklets. Particularly in the case of Archbishop Nichols.


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