Archbishop Nichols may not feel persecuted, but public sector Christians do at great personal cost

In comments to the anti-Catholic newspaper The Guardian Archbishop Nichols said he didn’t feel persecuted as a Christian, and that the term shouldn’t be used by Christians in this country:

‘Christians are not persecuted in this country and should not claim that they are, the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales has said. “I personally don’t feel in the least bit persecuted. I don’t think Christians should use that word,” he said.’

However, the archbishop was prepared to admit that the closing of catholic adoption agencies was an act of intolerance:

‘The Catholic church is, he said, considering an appeal against some aspects of the judgment which prohibits Catholic adoption agencies from discriminating against gay potential parents.

“It was, I think, an act of intolerance to eliminate a very small number of these adoption agencies on a matter of principle, or on a single issue. In a plural society, people and groups like the Catholic church should be able to make a contribution.”‘

When asked by The Guardian to explain the Church’s moral teaching on homosexuality, which it characterised as ‘notorious’ the archbishop is reported as saying rather gnomically:

‘When asked how to interpret the notorious Vatican description of homosexuality as “a tendency towards an objective moral evil”, Nichols gave me a carefully prepared talk on the roots of Catholic philosophy. “This is a philosophical construct,” he said.

‘Phrases like “abstract moral evil”, he said, are not aimed at any individual. “One talks about objective moral evil, you might say today, that’s racism. No matter what’s intended or understood, that, objectively, is wrong. In a similar way, you can say, in every sphere of life there is objective moral evil. But that does not imply subjective moral guilt. That does not imply guilt on an individual.”

It is to be earnestly hoped that his eminence gave a much fuller explanation of Catholic teaching on ‘intrinsic moral evil’ and ‘mortal sin’, which though not identical, are inter-related because as it stands his statement about ‘abstract moral evil’ [whatever that is] seems to be implying that there is no connection between evil acts and individual culpability and guilt. No doubt he gave a more nuanced answer but The Guardian didn’t understand it or chose not to report it.

Protect the Pope comment: It is surprising that Archbishop Nichols is not more sensitive to the difference between his experience as the leading prelate of England and Wales who is on a first name basis with many of the ‘great and good’ and that of an ordinary Christian working in the public sector who has been disciplined, demoted, bullied or sacked for adhering to the faith.

His dismissal of the reality of persecution of Christians in this country gave obvious comfort to The Guardian, who are at the forefront of the growing intolerance against Christianity, but is worrying to ordinary Catholics because it suggests Archbishop Nichols is strangely uninformed about the punitive actions taken against public sector Christians reported on the pages of Protect the Pope, and elsewhere.

The silence of the bishops conference over these cases over the past couple of years has been noticeable and concerning, but some of us clung to the hope that the archbishop and other bishops were raising their concerns behind the scenes through their access to the corridors of power. Archbishop Nichols dismissal of the  ’persecution’ of Christians in this country suggests he doesn’t know about what’s been happening in courts and employment tribunals or it suggests something even more worrying.


18 comments to Archbishop Nichols may not feel persecuted, but public sector Christians do at great personal cost

  • Certain of his fellow bishops wrote to Rome cautioning against ++ Nichols’ appointment to Westminster, largely because they saw him as ambitious and a ‘career Churchman’. They felt that careerism was the last thing needed at the top of the church in England and Wales. I don’t know how true those accusations are, but sure as eggs, he isn’t promising to take his career much further. I find some of his statements quite incomprehensible and frightening. Is he completely out of his depth? It is hard not to feel that he has lost the plot on this and several other issues. Rumours that Rome is not pleased are flying about the place, and true or not, the fact that they exist is a worrying indication to the faithful in England and Wales.

  • CathChap

    Can we please stop pedling the lie that adoption agencies closed?

    This what really happned:

    The diocese of Nottingham cut its ties with the Catholic Children’s Society (Nottingham) which still operates under the new name ‘Faith in Families’.

    St Francis Children’s Society – The diocese of Northampton severed its ties with the society, and it is now a secular institution with a ‘broad-based’ Christian character.

    The Roman Catholic Church severed its ties with The Catholic Children’s Society and the three Roman Catholic Bishops on the board of trustees resigned. The society still works in the three dioceses of Arundel and Brighton, Southwark and Portsmouth and it now called the Cabrini Children’s Society.

    The Clifton Diocese (Bristol) split from the Catholic Children’s Society, which still operates under the new name of Clifton Children’s Society.

    Three dioceses in Wales cut their ties with St David’s Children Society in Wales (and Herefordshire), which still operates.

    Catholic Caring Services in Lancaster continues to operate under the new name of Caritas Care.

    St Andrew’s Children’s Society in Scotland was already independent of the Roman Catholic Church – Cardinal O’Brien resigned from his position as President of the society.

    Nugent Care in Liverpool continues to operate.

    The Father Hudson Society in Birmingham handed its recruitment and adoption services to a new separate charity.

    We still suffered a defeat on this issue for sure. But lets be honest about what really happened.

    • Deacon Nick

      Cathchap, Catholic adoption agencies were closed and replaced by secular agencies that do not abide by the teachings of the catholic Church. Why should your account be trusted when I know you’re wrong about the Catholic Caring Services in Lancaster. Caritas Care is no longer a Catholic charity, as a result of its Director and trustees defying the decision of Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue to resist the implementation of this unjust law by upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church. The bishop withdrew their right to use the name ‘Catholic’and they are not allowed to collect funds from catholic parishes or Catholic schools. The Diocese of Lancaster has established a new social care agency, called Catholic Caring Services. Watch accusations about lying, if you do it again you’re off. Deacon Nick

      • CathChap


        The charities are still functioning doing the same great work and with a large number of the same people including many dedicated catholic employees. The Church has cut its ties with them so they are no longer offical Catholic organisations. That is all regretable, but it isn’t the same as the charities being shut down which implies that the vital service that they provided to children came to an end. That is an exagreation of the truth that I think is misleading. Whether it is a lie or not turns on your intent in making the statement which only you and God can know. In 1997, British Rail was privatised, something that I think was regretable, but it would be an inaccurate exageration to say that British Rail was “shut down”. The service continued.

        Feel free to kick me off if you want. I sense that my attempts to introduce some reasonableness to a group of people who are so convinced that it is them against the world are futile anyway.

        Adrian Thorp, Monmouth.

    • Pedro

      Thank you CathChap, I’ve been looking for a concise summary of what actually happened to the former Catholic adoption agencies. So basically they’re doing the same job as they did before but for the whole community rather than just the subset that the Catholic Church approves of. So, far from closing, they’ve simply improved!

      You do have to be careful with your choice of words around here though. Pointing out that the situation is not quite what some people would have us believe could be construed as not being Catholic enough. Archbishop Nichols clearly isn’t Catholic enough and probably wouldn’t last very long on this board. You could try “economical with the actuality” next time, although even that may be pushing it.


  • Well said, Deacon Nick.

    You are of course perfectly right to point out to CathChap whoever he/she is that although you will tolerate ‘frank and honst discussion’ but lies, you will not permit.

    Thanks for so many good postings

  • asrajit

    Archbishop Nichols might feel more persecuted if he addresses the Soho “gay mass” problem.

  • “Archbishop Nichols (sic) dismissal of the ’persecution’ of Christians in this country suggests he doesn’t know about what’s been happening in courts and employment tribunals or it suggests something even more worrying.”

    And this is precisely why Archbishop Nichols did not feature in the list of recently created cardinals. The suggestion that his omission was down to the fact that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is still a cardinal elector is as laughable as it is absurd. In drafting the list of new cardinals, Pope Benedict took into account the fact that five cardinals were due to celebrate their 80th birthdays during the five calendar months following the consistory; one in each month, the last on July 26 (the American Cardinal Stafford). Significantly, and not coincidentally, by doing so he was able to include Archbishops Dolan (New York) and Duka (Prague).

    But why five months? Why not six? Half a year would seem a more obvious time limit than five-twelfths. And it would make for a simple and easily understood rule: The maximum number of 120 cardinal electors can be temporarily exceeded by the Pope taking into account, when publishing a list of cardinals-elect, those cardinals who will attain their 80th birthday in the six calendar months following the month in which a consistory is held. What could be more straight forward? And more fair?

    What would have been the effect had such a rule been followed this time? His Holiness would have had another two birettas to go round. He could have done what he did last time, in November 2010: exactly balance curial with diocesan prelates to be honoured by elevation, 10/10.

    Cardinals Rosales (Manila) and Murphy-O’Connor will both be 80 in August (10 and 24 respectively). Thus he would have been free to elevate both of their successors, respectively Archbishop Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle and Archbishop Nichols. After all, theirs are the two most important “red hat” sees outside of Italy which currently do not have a cardinal archbishop.

    Why did His Holiness not avail himself of the opportunity of utilising two days short of one month? Contrary to what some have suggested, there is absolutely no problem with Archbishop Tagle. It may, or may not, have been the case that it was only after they had nominated him as Archbishop that the members of the Congregation for Bishops found out about his connection to the Bologna School and the hermeneutic of disruption. Personally, I find that hard to believe, while granting that it may have been the case for some less theologically adept members, like Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor. But could anyone seriously suggest that the Pope himself was unaware of it? In the 1990s, as Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger appointed Fr Tagle to the International Theological Commission. Are we expected to take seriously any suggestion that he did so ignorant of what is being portrayed in some quarters as a sort of youthful indiscretion? Moreover, when any priest or prelate is being considered for promotion to, or within, the episcopacy, the CDF have to sign off on it precisely because they are supposed to know about such things as who belongs to this or that theological school; who has written this or that contentious, or otherwise, book, or article, or thesis. And in 2001 Cardinal Ratzinger signed off on the nomination of Fr Tagle for the See of Imus, suffragan of Manila.
    No, there was no problem with Archbishop Tagle.

    Archbishop Nichols was another matter altogether. Archbishop Tagle was sacrificed, as it were, to make Archbishop Nichols’s omission from the list appear less brutal. His Grace’s most recent folly raises the question: At the next Benedictine consistory might Birmingham or Liverpool do a Dublin in 2001?

  • I can’t help wondering… if one is Archbishop of Westminster in a country that allows abortion on demand, Civil Partnerships of homosexuals, contraceptive implants without parental knowledge, let alone consent, sex education that would make a (insert tough descriptor here) blush (and so on and so on) – and one does not feel persecuted… could it be that one is not objecting to these evils sufficiently vociferously?

  • Peter

    I think that the word persecute is too strong to use. Catholics are not imprisoned merely for being Catholic. The UK is not like North Korea.
    Catholics suffer restrictions on what they can or cannot do, such as run a truly Catholic adoption agency. There are requirements such as school sex “education” that seem to contradict Catholic teaching. Other objectionable laws and practices can be cited. It is not persecution but it a number of steps in that direction.
    Now can anybody say how Muslim and Jewish adoption agencies are able to function? Neither would be able to assess a homosexual couple.

  • James Hughes

    Who is kidding who here. I am sure that ab Nichols reads the papers and watches the news so how could he fail to notice the number of christians being persecuted for attempting to live their lives in conformity to the dictates of their informed conscience. What about for example the midwives in Glasgow who are being forced to participate even indirectly with abortion; people in England being threatened with loss of employment because they insist in wearing religious signs such as a crucifix . As far as catholic adoption societies closing because of persecution ,if they still operate but have to back off from applying their christian/catholic beliefs and are forced into placing children in positions of gross moral danger with same sex ‘parents’ then that is persecution pure and simple. Maybe VN should get out more and get the flavour for how we lesser mortals are treated in the public arena. What we really need is for bishops to go to prison for their religious beliefs so that the catholic community will sit up and take notice and remember who not to vote for in elections. There are lots of heroic examples out there of priests and prelates suffering much worse for their sheep. What we have are lions led by donkeys most of whom couldn’t be trusted to run a bath far less Christ’s church on earth. The one ray of hope is that Christ promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against His church and in fact the church is never stronger or more vigorous than when it is under fire and persecution. The church has remained solid for two thousand years in the face of persecution by the Roman empire, the Nazis and the communist regimes around the world . Where are they now? VN should wise up because the day will come when he has to give an account of himself to his maker and he should remember , as should his brethren, that much will be expected from those to whom much was given. Also they should remember that Benedict XIV is one of the holiest , cleverest and humblest men to hold the chair of Peter and he will be well aware of what is going . It’ a pity that Inquisitions are unfashionable these days. AMDG

  • Karla

    I think ‘discrimination’ is an apt word for what many Christians go through in the UK, but I think there are instances of persecution even in the UK, is it as bad as what Christians go through in Asia, Middle East, Africa – no – but that does not mean it is not persecution.

  • Peter

    Thank you Karla. I looked up the definition of persecute: Pursue with enmity and injury (esp. holder of opinion held to be heretical); harass, worry….
    I think that you are right.

  • fd

    The comedian Mrs Littizzetto has once again lampoooned the Church on the RAI 3 channel, raving about the fact that ” there has been one and just one section of the Italian population ” which has not been touched by austerity,that is the Church, hence perpetrating the usual lie that the Church is exempt from taxes ,which is an enormous lie, in which too many Italians have come to believe because of the media. (It’s just the non-profit that doesn’t pay in Italy, Catholic and non Catholic non profit alike, a little hotel or bed and breakfast run by nuns in Rome for instance,with very low prices , so as to give to pilgrim the possibility of visiting the city, DOES PAY ! . Whereas the media want us to believe that they make unlawful competitions because they don’t pay,which is simply NOT true.
    It’s very sad that a comedian who is enourmosly payed by the State-run tv , twists and turns around reality TO TRY AND TURN ( in the mind of people )THE ONLY INSTITUTION WHICH IS IN DAILY CONTACT WITH THE PEOPLE ( with free facilities and services and enterntaining etc for children in the oratori) with assistance to the elderly, to families and to the poor thanks to CARITAS and countless initiatives and Churhc-sponsored projects , INTO a lobby which “has not been touched by austerity ” and tries to make gains on the stupid Italians. This operation of twisting of reality is vomiting and stomach-churning.

  • fd

    I’ve just read on a local newspaper that a priest ( a sacristan) has been brutally stabbed to death in the outskirts of Milan.
    The man who murdered him was taken to police. He told the police : “I have done what I had to do. Priests don’t work and do harm to people”. Evidently he is a disturbed person, the story is nonetheless disquieting ( if we think about the anticatholicism which is spread on internet, by fb, by the media and so on and so forth.)

  • fd

    The priest’s name is LUIGI ANDREOLLI.
    Whereas I mistakenly said that the tragedy happened in Milan,it happened near the city of Trento,in the north-east of the country. The town is Rovereto, and ,as there is town in the suburbs of Milan with the same name , I had confused.
    Yes,let us indeed pray for his soul,for his family and indeed for the whole parish of Rovereto, Trento.
    Here is an article from a local Trento news website.

  • fd

    The news was also broken by TG1 (news on RAI 1) . In the report, the killer is said to be a mentally unstable person who had developed a profound hostility against the Catholic Church.
    ( I think we ought to pray for him as well)

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