Catholics and the Culture Wars

There is a huge lack of engagement with the serious cultural issues society faces today from a Catholic perspective. As I blogged recently, engaging with these ideas and leading the way forward is the job of our bishops, however, apart from a tiny vocal minority, we hear only silence. This is once again true with respect to the recent Jacob Rees-Mogg interview.

Both Bishop Egan
...and Bishop Davies have spoken out supporting the Conservative MP's Catholic line on abortion and same sex marriage amid a storm of vitriol from all corners suggesting Catholics are not fit for public office. From everywhere else, Westminster and Southwark included, (so far) silence.

Dan Hitchens found the most interesting dimension to JRM's public profession of faith – as with the rage against Tim Farron – to be the depth of subsequent anger at the “bigot” Rees-Mogg and his “utterly abhorrent” opinions. He goes on to suggest that
"Secular liberalism loves to shout about how Christian sexual ethics are wrong; but secular liberals are far less confident when it comes to their own positive beliefs. Whatever can be said about Catholic teaching, there are at least various well-elaborated philosophical justifications for it; and it does provide a clear rule of life. But as the liberal commentator Damon Linker admits, the liberal sexual ethic amounts to little more than the vague wish: “As long as no one gets hurt…” This can hardly address the complexity of human experience – both its nobility and its tawdriness. Liberalism has thrown away (in Linker’s phrase) the “binding standards of human flourishing and degradation” which Christianity once provided. And without them, it struggles to answer the difficult questions of sexual morality."
I thank God for people like Dan, because it is lay people who are having to step up and do the bishop's job increasingly these days, explaining what the Church teaches on a variety of complex issues.

If the Catholic voice is not heard in the public forum, if we fail to engage with the debate, how can we be surprised when, hearing statements so out of step with societal norms as JRM's on GMB, the response is howls of outrage and derision? These very howls are the clearest evidence that our bishops are failing us terribly in this country. It is not the case everywhere, as demonstrated recently by the bishops of Australia.

In the huge void we are left with, I find myself increasingly looking to commentators like Dan for a way to engage with friends and family who ask me about these issues. Another really useful source is Dr Peter Saunders, a Christian doctor who engages in a really academic way with a lot of these issues. He has been speaking a lot about transgenderism recently from a scientific, medical and Christian perspective and his comments are invaluable if you want to know how Christians can engage with this sudden and pernicious cultural development:


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