In a recent homily Archbishop Conti has challenged Archbishop Nichols statement to The Guardian newspaper that in his experience there is no persecution of Christians in the UK.
According to The Guardian:
‘‘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, Archbishop Conti said:
‘…heroism is required to stand up for the Catholic faith and all it teaches in the face of a rampant consumerism and individualism which has shaken all of western society to its core.
All around us we hear ideas advanced which seem alien to our understanding of things … unborn and vulnerable life is snuffed out with impunity; attempts are made to disfigure and corrupt our understanding of marriage and family life; the very symbols of our faith – the cross of Christ worn around our necks or on our lapels – is denounced as an offensive sign, one that must remain hidden from public gaze!
What we are really seeing is an attempt to remove Christianity from the public forum; to erase the Christian markers from our path through life and to airbrush our Christian heritage out of our consciousness.
This is not the persecution your forebears experienced as they huddled, shivering, around Mass rocks, but it is a persecution nevertheless, and being more subtle, it is more difficult to resist.
But resist we must, and the greatest weapon we have in our armoury is … fidelity.
Fidelity to the faith of your fathers. Fidelity to the traditions of home and hearth which have distinguished Irish life for centuries. And fidelity to the Mass.
“It is the Mass that matters”… remember the Pope’s words.
Protect the Pope comment: Though Archbishop Conti doesn’t mention Archbishop Nichols by name it seems pretty clear that Glasgow is challenging Westminster’s very public dismissal of the notion that Christians are being persecuted in the Europe.
While Archbishop Nichols ignores the disciplining and sacking of public sector Christians due to their expression of the Faith Archbishop Conti acknowledges that we are facing a different type of persecution, but a persecution all the same.
If you lose your job and your health because your public sector employed hounds you out of work for being a Christian that’s persecution. If your government is seeking to ban the wearing of the cross at work then that is persecution.
The different tone and content of statements from Scottish bishops and some English bishops is obvious and striking. The Scottish bishops challenge and criticize the abuses arising from the secularization of our country while English bishops, such as Archbishop Nichols, either ignore abuses completely or seek to placate those who seek to marginalize and constrain us. Apart from Shrewsbury and Lancaster it seems we have to look over the border for leadership at this time.