The death of Christianity?

If we are to believe the British Social Attitudes surveys over many years, we may accept that Christianity is gradually dying in this country. Those who record themselves as Christian slowly but regularly decrease in numbers. The Anglican Church has been hit the hardest, but Catholics decline steadily as well. Their percentage in 1983 was 10 percent; it is now down to 7 percent. Or, if you wish, 30 percent lower.

We can see some reasons why this is happening. Perhaps the most obvious is generational. Those who are Catholics all their lives tend to continue, but the number of young people from Catholic families is distinctly fewer. Nor does the evidence support the optimistic thought that such young people return to Catholicism at a later date.

Perhaps, a factor in this is that people who once thought that claiming a denomination of some sort was respectable no longer think this to be so. Indeed, they may think humanism or agnosticism is a respectable position – perhaps even more respectable than religious superstition or imposed moralities.

There has also been a considerable change in general attitudes towards sexual practice. It would appear (and I have seen this in my family) that the young, perhaps starting from university, move quickly into full sexual activity, often living together, before marriage is considered as a probability. The rule for our children, some forty years ago, was that they might entertain their ‘friend’, but the bedroom door had to be open. Nowadays that simply sounds quaint.

But we must also consider how successful we are at presenting Catholicism. Do we present our beliefs in a way which attract people, while being clear about the value of our moral beliefs? For example, in the matter of abortion we may well be seen as enemies to human rights when we remind people that the last time an identifiable group of humans lost their right to life was in the Thirties, in Germany.

And the Church needs to look at itself too. The scandals of child abuse have, and indeed should have, been broadly condemned. And this related not only to the actual abuse but how the Church again and again failed to manage it.

Do we see the active Church in this country as an enthusiastic community, led by fine bishops who work with the laity for the greater good of God – or just an administrative organisation – with its eye always open to Rome? Do our friends envy our Catholicism, or just put up with it as an acceptable quirk?
What do we have to do to increase our percentage in the population rather than to watch it gradually decrease as an old fashioned superstition?
(There is a fine article on this subject by Stephen Bullivant in the Tablet, 27 July, if you can get hold of a copy.)

About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Church and Society, Quentin queries. Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to The death of Christianity?

  1. Alasdair says:

    Neither Catholicism nor, more widely Christianity will die out, in Britain or anywhere else.

  2. Nektarios says:

    I agree with Alasdair that Christianity will not die out in Britain or anywhere else. I also see Christianity will not die out because of faithful souls and of course despite all that is coming against the Church in this world, God wills it to remain till Christ comes again. Scripture, it is a certainty, that everything prophesied will be fulfilled.
    So for those who think that Christianity is meaningless to the mondern world, quaint, old-fashioned,
    it concerns you too, no matter what you believes, and concerning us all, Scripture will be fulfilled, nothing can stop it, it is a certainty and something you can bet your life on.

  3. John Nolan says:

    The difference between 10 per cent and 7 per cent is 3 per cent, not 30 per cent. You can’t percentage a percentage.

  4. Quentin says:

    No doubt you are right, John — as usual. My meaning was that the percentage level had reduced by 30 per cent. I hope the ordinary reader would understand this. Why can’t you percentage a percentage. Is this a mathematical rule?

    • milliganp says:

      As a mathematician by training I couldn’t get past the first paragraph so here’s my detailed take on the numbers.
      In 1983 the population of the UK was 56.3 Million so 10% gives us 5.3 Million Catholics.
      The 2019 population is 67 Million so 7% gives us 4.69 Million that’s a decline of 8.85% in the total number of Catholics.
      Nowhere near as bad as 30%.
      However you can accurately say that Catholics, as a percentage of the UK total population have declined by 30%.
      Now that I’ve got that over with, I’ll try to read the rest of the post!

  5. Geordie says:

    Prayer and self-denial by the whole Church, including the hierarchy, are vital to the increase in Christianity.
    Since Vatican II (I do not say because of VII) the practice of self-denial has been slowly disregarded. I have been told by more than one sincere Catholic that good works are more important. We were told to do something positive during Lent, instead of giving up things. The belated attempt by the bishops to restore Friday abstinence has been a resounding failure.
    The emphasis on the parish community togetherness has replaced religious devotions in church. Chattering in church (I include myself) is widespread.
    We shouldn’t replace self-denial with something positive; we should do both. I wish I could but doing something positive gets a lot more kudos than self-denial.

  6. John Nolan says:

    Well, maths was my worst subject at school, but it doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that when you reduce 10/100 by 30/100 you don’t get 70/100.

  7. Alasdair says:

    For that matter maths is in decline in our country. No-one is suggesting that it will die out altogether.

    • milliganp says:

      I think we may have correlation if not causation. The modern world sees little point in absolute facts; if we had an absolute care for truth then we’d be better at religion and better at maths.

  8. David Smith says:

    Father Longenecker wrote this in last week’s Herald:

    // The modern materialist believes that Christianity is a human invention that is the product of a certain historical period and culture. As such, it not only may change, but it must change according to the time and culture in which it finds itself. In other words, Christianity is a relative religion. Not only is the Eucharist symbolic, but the whole wild and glorious Christian faith is no more than a symbol. //

    The article containing that thought was focused on the fact that half of American “Catholics” believe that the Eucharist is merely a symbol. The point, not articulated by the author but understood by the reader, is that the American church is rotten at its core. One can argue that the dead half will fall away, leaving only believers in dogma, but, in fact, the clergy and the hierarchy as a whole, in turning a blind eye to the rot, have declared themselves comfortable with it, and, thus, are part of it. The wider issue is that materialism (definition #1 from Chambers: “The doctrine that denies the independent existence of spirit, and maintains that there is but one substance, matter”) has become the Western world’s default position, and half the people who call themselves Catholics have ceased to be Catholics in any but a social and sentimental sense. In other words, the Church is already well on its way to disappearing, in fact if not in name. Names endure for a while, out of inertia and habit, but sooner or later, they, too, disappear, having ceased to be considered relevant. I’m reminded of the widely accepted decision to replace “BC” and “AD” with “BCE” and “CE”. The labels “Christianity” and “Catholicism” will last for a while, but will then be officially excised from standard use, having been declared both irrelevant and offensive.

    Of course, if, by a miracle, both the Catholic clergy and the Catholic hierarchy experience a radical conversion, the institutional church may survive. I doubt, sadly, that that’s at all likely.

    • milliganp says:

      2 weeks ago I was blessed by being invited to a 25th Anniversary of ordination of a Ghanaian priest. The congregation was 90% African and 5 other African priests con-celebrated; I haven’t experienced such a mixture of life, joy and faith since my childhood.
      They had Benediction before Mass and the devotion at the Benediction was also something to behold. It was obvious that their culture and their faith were inextricable whereas most British Catholics now see faith as “an hour on Sunday”. Perhaps Europe will be re-Chrisitanised from Africa.

  9. FZM says:

    What do we have to do to increase our percentage in the population rather than to watch it gradually decrease as an old fashioned superstition?

    It could be just a question of waiting. In Western Europe the more committed secularists, atheists and agnostics seem to be concentrated in the indigenous white populations and they have the least children of all other groups in their societies. Sociologists seem to be predicting that the impact of this will become more and more perceptible as the century goes on, until by around 2100 indigenous white groups could be minorities in Western European countries with the majority of people being non-white or mixed race. (One set of slightly satirical projections showed how the future US population could become dominated by Amish, Orthodox Jews and Sharia observant Muslims if current trends continue).

    This will start to have some impact on culture, and the particular kind of secular European culture that we currently are experiencing may be a casualty of it. It’s difficult to imagine that people who come from outside of Europe will be eager to invest in the highly secular deconstruction-of-western-civilisation kind of narrative that has been so important in the West since 1945; this (and its results) may look irrelevant and something to avoid.

  10. John Nolan says:

    David Smith

    BCE and CE have not found favour with British historians. However, when referring to centuries, AD doesn’t make sense, as in ‘the third century in the year of Our Lord’. Better to talk of ‘the third century of the Christian Era’. It can be abbreviated CE!

  11. galerimo says:

    A very interesting observation indeed on Christianity in your country

    I’m looking forward to hearing the responses to your (six!) questions

    “Do we see the active Church in this country as an enthusiastic community,

    led by fine bishops who work with the laity for the greater good of God

    – or just an administrative organisation

    – with its eye always open to Rome?

    Do our friends envy our Catholicism,

    or

    just put up with it as an acceptable quirk?

  12. Nektarios says:

    All these questions may seem important, but just look at them, all of them are in various ways exploring the Roman Catholic PR machine, only now you are part of it, the activist.

    Let me just say this to you on seccondsightblogdotnet: There are many devout Christians in all the different denominations, good people who love the Lord,
    But there are other people within the Church who do not belong to the Kingdom of God but belong to the dark side of the kingdom of Satan.

    We must realise, as Christian we are in a war where one may be called to fight, die, suffer loss
    till the battle is won.
    The present battle infecting the Church is that of the Globalists and the Chi-Comms ( Chinese Communists). I have not the time to go into all of that, but the main thing to get a handle on is,
    Many of the leaders of the Church, not just the Roman Catholic Church are wittingly or unwittingly joining the Globalist, Chi-Comm agendas and are part of of the problem. But not all leaders in the Church are followers of Satan but Christ and faithful to the Lord and to your soul’s welfare and Salvation.
    Realize we are in the fight of our lives now, this is not fiction or some conspiracy theories, but actually happening on the ground right now. Who are our enemies? they are the Globalists, Chi-Comms, the IT Tech giants of which some leader within the Churches are aligned to.
    They are waging war on the world dividing it, stealing data, fomenting race and many other divisions, sexual confusion, economic confusion, listening and watching you and desire to enslave all of us.
    From my standpoint, I do not see a true Christianity disappearing, or dying it is only beginning to wake up to where the actual battle taking place and far from disappearing, are beginning to fight back.
    But we have to know how to fight, for we are in a spiritual warfare down here. Time to put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6) and having done all we can to stand.

    No, Christianity is not dying or dead, we are only beginning to fight and we will win.

    • Alasdair says:

      Quentin used the phrase “the last time an identifiable group of humans lost their right to life was on the thirties in Germany”.
      Whether this is precisely true or not it makes a powerful point.
      However, the group who lost their right to life in the thirties were to be exterminated entirely, whereas the new group who have lost their right to life may be killed at our convenience. “Choice”, a very modern, or is it post-modern concept.

    • Alasdair says:

      I agree that we Christians do need to wake up and realise that we have a fight on our hands.
      A good start would be if we could agree who the enemy is (ie who is Satan using to greatest effect). Nektarios’ list is by no means fanciful.
      Another good start would be if we could stand up and be counted and not hide our light under a bushel. To wit, may I appeal to Catholics to identify themselves as Christians first before using the Catholic qualifier?

      • Alasdair says:

        About a month ago I was sitting on the terrace of a hotel in the Tirol and struck up a conversation with a British lady who was waiting for a taxi. Apparently she is quite a senior civil servant. Suddenly the bells of the local church started ringing. Prompted by that, she told me that she had spent 15 minutes looking at the inside of the church yesterday.
        She asked me “Is that building a Catholic Church. Is that the same as christiania?” ( her actual words).
        Let is not therefore underestimate the extent to which we are not understood by society as a whole!

      • Alasdair says:

        Recently an Italian mother complained to the European court that her children had to attend a public school in northern Italy that had crucifixes in every room. The seven judges on the case ruled that that restricted the “right of children to believe or not to believe”. She was awarded 5,000 euros damages.
        In response, several Italian Regioni instructed schools to remove overtly Christian symbols from their premises. This was generally complied with but with a lot of complaints.
        Some teachers removed crucifixes from the wall and mounted them on their desks claiming that that was their personal space and beyond the jurisdiction of the authorities.
        Some crucifixes were replaced by highly stylised Christ-The-Redeemer figures which, it could be argued, did not represent Christ, but merely a bloke with outstretched arms.
        The regional tourist office covering Sorrento and the Amalfi coast was airbrushing out the crosses on top of churches in their publicity pictures. This decision has been reversed though due to local public outcry.
        Nativity scenes have long since been banned in public spaces in several Italian regions and just recently the ban was extended to signage referring to the nativity scenes.
        Signage directing to churches has been similarly banned unless the church can be proved to have historical, architectural, and social significance other than religion.

        Etc,etc,etc

        Yes, we do need to wake up, realise that we have a problem, and be prepared to fight.

  13. Nektarios says:

    Alasdair

    The numerous tentacles of the Globalists, Chi- Comms (Chinese Communists) and the big Tech giants are very varied and far-reaching with their propaganda, lies, and far reaching influence.

    Here are a few, Climate Change. There are variables all the time with climate, it is called weather.
    Computer modelling with cheating of the data presents a picture of a climate change catastrophe. The reality, the real science, even Nasa’s own investigation, shows it is not happening according to the IPCC (International Panel for Climate Change). The direct opposite, there is even greening of desserts taking place. Those so-called scientists are fearful, having their position in universities and speaking out against it would see them sacked on the spot and losing their scientific credentials. This is all part of the Globalist agenda to shut the West down in its production, farming, eating meat etc.
    But the seeds of these climate change lies are being sown in primary schools everywhere in the West now and people are being radicalized, even school-children to believe the lie and we all know who the father of lies is.

    Another problem is the argument that those in the West are not bearing enough children to support the indigenous populations. This is also a lie, but only partly, leading to large immigration problems.
    The real reason behind a lower birth rate in the West can be put down to three main chemicals.
    These are, fluoride, chlorine in the water supply and also taken up into the food chain including
    glycophates, There are many others. The first two lowers the sperm count and sexual activity. the other interferes with the sex leading as it has, to many of the sexual behaviours we see today such as a rapid increase in
    homosexuality, transgenderism, sexual identity and other confusions regarding sexuality.

    All this has been known to the medical profession, dentists, the Governments, yet under the Globalist, Chi-Comms and the EU and their directives, health professionals have been silenced for decades.

    But the truth about all this and these Satanic groups is coming out and people are slowly waking up to what they are doing and beginning to act.

    • milliganp says:

      Well done Nektarios – almost every conspiracy theory in one post (you missed lizard people and black helicopters).
      Climate science is complex and I’m not an expert (but it’s obvious you aren’t either) but to put declining western population down to chlorine in the water is so utterly contrary to evidence as to be laughable.

      • Nektarios says:

        milliganp

        Before you rubbish what I have said about those three chemicals in particular,
        go and do some reading on the matter. It is not contrary to the facts that Western pregnancy and childbirth has dropped to where indigenous populations cannot be sustained.
        Far from being laughable, it is very serious and you are showing yourself to be ignorant on the subject.

      • Nektarios says:

        milliganp

        In addition to what I wrote below at 10: 52 here is a website below for you and as a mathematician should interest you on the subject of Floride, Chlorine and Glycophates. Alternatively, you can google up Mike Adams. com.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3948022/

  14. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // Perhaps, a factor in this is that people who once thought that claiming a denomination of some sort was respectable no longer think this to be so. Indeed, they may think humanism or agnosticism is a respectable position – perhaps even more respectable than religious superstition or imposed moralities. //

    Labels like “humanism” and “agnosticism” seem not to be bandied about much in the mass media these days. Labels seem to be used more to insult than to aid in thinking. I read “you are a” more than “I am a”. Perhaps in an era in which change is valued far above continuity, labels are suspect, because if something’s been around long enough to have acquired a label, it probably needs changing.

  15. David Smith says:

    From the current issue of the Herald:

    // In the 1960s, 55 per cent of the Netherlands’ 2.7 million Catholics still went to Mass regularly. By 2000 average weekly Mass attendance was down to 439,000; in 2017, to 157,900 people. //

  16. John Nolan says:

    Steven Bullivant’s 11-page report on ‘Contemporary Catholicism in England and Wales’ (2018), based on British Social Attudes surveys from 1983 to 2014, makes for interesting reading. It’s available on-line. The estimate for 2014 of a Catholic population of 3.8 million out of a total adult population of 45.2 million would mean that Catholics make up 8.3% of the population, according to the latest figures.

    It should be borne in mind that Catholic numbers only include those over 18, whereas the official census counts everyone over the age of one, so this needs to be remembered when comparing figures.

    1983 is the year the Catholic population, which had been rising throughout the 20th century, levelled off at about 4.28 million. It was still over 4 million in 2011, although the influx of Poles in the previous decade no doubt boosted the figures.

    What did fall by 30%, and in less than twenty years (1993-2010) was regular Mass attendance, which of course was a continuation of a trend which began in the 1960s. Dr Bullivant has addressed this in his book ‘Mass Exodus’, which also applies to America, and uses sociological analysis to good effect. He has also co-authored a survey of lapsed Catholics in the Portsmouth diocese – why they left and what might bring them back. Both works were recently reviewed by Joseph Shaw on LifeSite news, which is useful for those who would like a summary of his arguments.

  17. Nektarios says:

    Yesterday was St Lawrence Day.
    When the Church hierarchy decided to change to Vatican 11 a lot of people did not like the change.
    When the Church decides, for various reasons to water down or change the Apostolic teaching to suit its own failure, or confuse or hide the present reasons for so much decline, perhaps a look back at the life of St. Lawrence would bring a clearer perspective of the real Christianity they are high-jacking.

    St. Lawrence was a deacon in Rome. The Roman Emporer thought the Church had a lot of gold
    and asked to be presented with their gold treasure. The deacon presented himself with all the poor people of the Church and told the Emporer, ” We have no gold, but these are the treasures of the Church.”
    The Emporer was maddened, ransacked the Church and found no gold. He had deacon Lawrence killed cruelly.

    It is not in new ideas, reorganization or programs etc that is the Church’s treasure, not in its wealth, global reach and earthly or ecclesiastic power that matter one jot, but how we treat one another who truly belong to Christ and to all mankind. As St Lawrence discovered, the real treasure of the Church lies in earthen vessels.

    Perhaps the story of St. Lawrence needs to be revisited not only by the leaders of the Church but by us all.

  18. Iona says:

    Nektarios, I have looked through your reference (given in your post of 10th August at 2:04 p.m.) and cannot see that it says what you say it says. What it seems to be saying is that various chemical contaminants are present in varying degrees in much drinking water, and that these ought to be investigated to see if they are liable to cause any harm; and if so, what harm.

    • Nektarios says:

      Iona

      There is much more added since then, but if you noted the date it was in 2014.
      I cannot find the more up to date one without subscribing to his website.

  19. ignatius says:

    Also, predictably I guess, googling Mike Adams produces a plethora of websites, blogs, etc keen to rip his website to ribbons on account of its misinformation and wild conspiracy theory….ho hum.

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius

      It looks like you did not look him up, never mind as it was not strictly on topic.
      What was on the topic was my posting on St. Lawrence Day at 1204.

  20. Nektarios says:

    Ignatius

    In addition, concerning Mike Adams, you really have got the wrong end of the stick as it were. Mike Adams has his own Laboratory where he is an expert along with the people that work for him. He is not out to create conspiracy theories, of which there are plenty these days, but rather through the science to disprove the conspiracy theories especially on health, food, water and vaccines. Confirm if a conspiracy theory is just that, or false and can be looked more in-depth or dismissed.

    At least, Ignatius, I have looked into it. Alternatively, you can go to his website pages where there are different topics and info to be had on Mike Adams. com.

  21. ignatius says:

    Alas dear Nektarios, if you took the trouble to read my last post I think it was fairly plain that I had looked into your chap and, predictably he is generally seen as a conspiracy theorist. I have looked at Natural news and find it a pretty average mulch with all sorts of wackiness mixed in. Till a couple of weeks ago I was Senior Clinical Tutor for the Osteopathy hons degree at our university. The course has a natural medicines module and most of us have a fair grasp of the field. However if anyone wishes to look up Mr Adams pedigree then Wikipedia is a good place to start:

    “Natural News (formerly NewsTarget, which is now a separate sister site) is a conspiracy theory and fake news website[2] that sells various dietary supplements, and promotes alternative medicine, controversial nutrition and health claims,[3] fake news,[4][5][6] and various conspiracy theories,[7] such as “chemtrails”,[2] chemophobic claims (including the purported dangers of fluoride in drinking water,[8] anti-perspirants, laundry detergent, monosodium glutamate, aspartame), and purported health problems caused by allegedly “toxic” ingredients in vaccines,[3][2] including the now-discredited link to autism.[9] It has also spread conspiracy theories about the Zika virus allegedly being spread by genetically modified mosquitoes[10] and purported adverse effects of genetically modified crops, as well as the farming practices associated with and foods derived from them.[11]”

    That is possibly the most restrained critique available.
    I do check your sources Nektarios as you know, they are mainly wierd. You will be wearing a white hood and gown next and pronouncing yourself “Nektarios of the high order illuminati gnostic outfit ” entry limited to really special dudes such as yourself….

    Sorry but your stuff really is for the birds

    Ig

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius
      I am not an expert on these things, but having been a clinician for over 24years before I retired 10 years ago, I do know quite a bit about nutrition or lack of in patients I was seeing them then.

      As for Illuminati, well it does exist, and rife within the Roman Catholic Church and elsewhere but I have nothing to do with such Satanic practices.

      As this is detracting from the topic, can we give this line of put-downs a rest? Thank you.

  22. ignatius says:

    Thats fine Nektarios, it is actually you that brought all this wacky stuff up in the first place I think. If you could refrain from presenting such general strangeness here as if it were fact then there would be no need to call you out on it and no need for you to sulk when your strange ideas get short thrift.

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius

      You have labelled me as whacky, a conspiracy theorist and jokingly, a high ranking Illuminati.
      All wrong, however just because you labelled me a conspiracy theorist, etc, which I am not, the following:
      There are three main camps – Globalists, Chi-Comms and big Corporate businesses that own the largest percent of industries ITech, banks and have their own agendas. They have compromised the media, Governments, Hollywood. Etc etc.

      That is a fact. To call me a conspiracy theorist, which I take exception to, as such a label is only used to attempt to silence free speech, denying the many scientists that are actually doing the science instead of computer modelling and crazy projections like Climate Change by the IPCC which is a very expensive hoax, as the actual science does not back their claims up for example.

      I am not sulking off as you say, but I am against all that is Satanic, anti-human, stirring up divisions. Lying to the public constantly, labelling any opposition as conspiracy theorists, homophobes or Islamophobes etc, all to silence people and stop anyone getting to or voicing the truth on various matters.

      Do not reply to this Ignatius, not required. Thank you.

  23. ignatius says:

    Sorry Nektarios, I didn’t realise you were in charge of this site and so able to dictate who answers and who doesn’t. Nor did I clearly understand your great eminence as one who is free from all error and able to be the judge of all things.Alas poor me.
    But if you were to actually read the posts of others, mine in this case, you will see that I have not labelled YOU personally as anything at all. I have stated that much of the stuff you post on here is, by a few clicks of a mouse, easily identified as partial at best and wierd at worst….and so it is.

    • Nektarios says:

      Ignatius

      This has gone on for long enough. You have deliberately misinterpreted what said.
      I would agree, you are probably an expert in your chosen field, but not so au fiet in many others, and in some you are lacking.
      So don’t use your trade expertise to think you are capable of speaking with authority on others, you are not, so humble down a bit if possible.

  24. ignatius says:

    Ah Nektarios….humility now is it? Me culpa dear boy but I cannot resist bringing a simple matter to your attention.

    I have done a quick scan of the last five recent posts on this blog..from ‘The Fall of Man’ up to this present post. Here is your score, Nektarios, in terms of who, during these five posts, you have felt it your duty to advise as to a particular lack of theirs According to you Nektarios:
    Quentins thoughts are ‘fanciful’
    Ignatius is full of accusations and errors as well as lacking in humility
    MilliganP : is being childish, provocative and ignorant.
    GD: misses the point entirely and is misguided as well as being childish and provocative.

    Hmmmm, perhaps…just possibly perhaps, might I politely suggest that, in your demand for humility there is, dare I say, just a tiny element of the pot calling the kettle a mildly darker shade of gray?

  25. Nektarios says:

    Ignatius

    Well. I am so glad you are taking the time to sum up over several topics some of the things I have said. What I have said was in context regarding what they wrote and tried to keep on a topic usually.

    As far as humility goes, I try to follow the Lord, who descending from Heaven’s glory to a lowly stable and dwelt among us, Emmanuel.
    I cannot it seems, no matter how hard I try to follow Him in His humility. His steps go where I cannot go, or follow in His humility.
    But I will go where He is to be found, sitting in the dust among the lonely, the lowliest and the lost.

  26. John Candido says:

    The survival of the Church ultimately rests on the guarantee of Christ when he said to the Apostles that he will faithfully protect the church.

    When the church or any other organisation, is made aware that a fundamental mismatch exists between itself and society, the process of reform becomes increasingly relevant.

    The idea that society should challenge their concept of drugs remaining illegal was and is anathema to lots of people.

    Many people think carefully legalising specific drugs, and to regulate their manufacture and consumption based on independent scientific studies, will enslave people to the illegal drug of their choice for the rest of their lives.

    Public attitudes to the issue of illegal drugs are undergoing a seismic shift in communities around the world.

    Some of us see and have seen for a very long time the logic of making illegal drugs both legal and tightly regulated, as a way of destroying its black market for organised crime, for ending organised crime’s capacity to corrupt any public official, and in improving the familial, health and employment outcomes for people addicted to specific drugs.

    Society is questioning its attitude to this issue to envisage whether it is better to make the consumption of illegal drugs, primarily a health issue rather than a legal issue.

    In recent political history in the United States of America, legalising drugs ran counter to President Richard Nixon’s ‘War on Drugs’.

    The ‘war on drugs’ based on President Nixon’s hidden racism against black Americans ensured that this policy would prevail for decades.

    That administration’s hatred for protestors against the Vietnam war led to the mass arrests of both blacks and urban liberals who regularly consumed marijuana.

    Nixon’s thinking reflected society’s disdain of illegal drugs.

    His understanding that blacks, students, and liberals, consumed marijuana for recreational purposes, helped solve one of his problems through the incarceration of his political enemies.

    Society better understands the drug issue with the experience of decades of failure preceding new thinking on the subject.

    that may lead to a plethora of advantages for the criminal justice system, corruption levels in society, the health of addicted people and their family, and the minimising of the black market in illegal drugs.

    The prohibition against alcohol during the 1920s was as much a failure as the ‘war on drugs’.

    Legalising drugs is a progressive policy worthy of serious debate and consideration.

    • David Smith says:

      // Legalising drugs is a progressive policy worthy of serious debate and consideration. //

      Everything’s up for debate in democracies. It must be. But you cannot run a highly technological civilization if most of the workers are unable to reason efficiently and accurately and respond quickly and appropriately to changing environmental conditions.

      All societies must develop rules for common conduct. That’s a sine qua non.

  27. John Candido says:

    ‘… you cannot run a highly technological civilization if most of the workers are unable to reason efficiently and accurately and respond quickly and appropriately to changing environmental conditions.’ David Smith

    Most workers are not drug takers.

    • David Smith says:

      // Most workers are not drug takers. //

      Not now, when it’s illegal. When it becomes something “everybody does”, that will change. How could it not?

    • Alan says:

      “Not now, when it’s illegal. When it becomes something “everybody does”, that will change. How could it not?”

      It feels to me as if you have the answer to your question in your own assessment of the consequences.

      ” … you cannot run a highly technological civilization if most of the workers are unable to reason efficiently and accurately …”

      If a law acts to control behaviour for the benefit of a functioning advanced society then there is reason (the benefits to that society) for many/most to moderate their behaviour whether something is legal or not. The law stems from a value that is already appreciated by many.

  28. galerimo says:

    Reading the discussion here on whether

    You see the active Church in your country as an enthusiastic community, led by fine bishops who work with the laity for the greater good of God – or just an administrative organisation – with its eye always open to Rome?

    And on whether your friends envy your Catholicism, or just put up with it as an acceptable quirk?

    And your discussing the question around what you have to do to increase the percentage in your country’s population rather than to watch it gradually decrease as an old fashioned superstition?

    An outsider would question why a statistical increase in numbers should be the measure for determining the health or fixing the problems of your (or any) Catholic community.

    The views, on the one hand, that the Catholic church is a source of great evil and not only should its numbers not increase but it would be far better to stamp it out altogether and, on the other, that it will prevail no matter what, because Jesus said so, appear to me as irreconcilable extremes of the argument.

    There may be some similarity here to the discussion among the disciples on the road to Emmaus. The whole Jesus project appeared to be a big disappointment to them. And they seem just as sad.

    Maybe we too are walking away with our heads bowed in argument and recrimination because the whole practice of Catholic faith just seems to be one big mess.

    And, travelling the road with us too, Jesus does not appear unwilling to hear us out.

    Perhaps our task of building up our Catholic community (in any land) is really a very simple one. And I think this is point Jesus makes in the discussion on the road.

    Our failures are not the whole story. Tending to his gift of faith nourished by the long tradition of his story of love for us; in hospitality reaching out to each other in forgiveness; giving thanks (Eucharist) to God for creation and salvation, these are our steps forward. More depth than height.

    It turns out in the end that the Messiah was actually meant to suffer and to die but a real burning heartfelt faith points out that disaster is never the last word for us.

    Maybe its not easy but it’s definitely easier to get good statistical outcomes than to do the work of faith in one’s own life.

    It means trying to unite with those who can drive you mad. Plus the celebration of the Lord’s Supper together as preparation for keeping on going, in his name, no matter what.

    Sometimes, as an outsider, you get the impression that the climate of Brexit is creating a lot of fear and a sense of helplessness way beyond the boundaries of the political arena.

  29. John Nolan says:

    ‘When the Church or any other organization is made aware that a fundamental mismatch exists between itself and society, the process of reform becomes increasingly relevant.’

    What John Candido is advocating here, and has done many times on this blog over the years, is that the Church change its doctrine and practice to conform with current social mores and attitudes, which are endorsed by a liberal elite. Many of them have a very recent provenance. He chooses to ignore St Paul in Romans 2:12 who says ‘And do not be conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.’

    For the first three centuries of her existence, the Church was at odds with the society of pagan Rome. No doubt conforming would have avoided persecution, but in the end it was Christian culture, not pagan culture, which prevailed.

    The Anglican ‘Communion’ which has embraced women’s ordination and liberal sexual attitudes has declined far more than the Catholic Church has. So much for ‘relevance’.

    If western society is indeed ‘post-Christian’, then the Catholic Church has to be counter-cultural. Too often in recent decades the leadership has been reluctant to stand up for and explain the Church’s teaching, especially when challenged by a hostile media. Arguably this same spinelessness accounts for the failure in the past to deal effectively with the abuse crisis.

  30. Nektarios says:

    John Nolan

    I could not have put it better myself.

  31. Martha says:

    I happened to see this quote from GKC recently, “We do not want a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.”

  32. ignatius says:

    I was reading recently the thought that the predominant ideology of the Western democracies is of relativity. This means your truth is your truth, mine is mine so we will all just get on as best we can obeying the rules of government as we go. From this perspective the church becomes increasingly irrelevant, particularly to those of us not too pressed by financial hardship, so meeting together appears uneccessary.
    However when push comes to shove things are different. Pope Benedict, perhaps forseeing an increased push back against Christian faith predicted, for the 21st century, a slimmed and revitalised church.
    In my own experience the church tends to be revitalised more when hard pressed as opposed to becoming complacent in times of plenty. Travelling as I did on occasion, from secret gatherings of christians in communist countries- to the open freedom to worship in our own culture, one could not be struck by the cultural lukewarmness over here. This may just have been the fact that there is less acute ”need” for faith in cultures where food/ work/ housing is not particularly in scarcity nor the government especially challenged by different voices.

    Personally I think we are where we are and it is very likely to be the case that in leaner times the invisible church of those who believe but no longer belong would be forced more and more to come out from the woodwork and make its choices….if not, then not.

    At present and especially among Millenials following Jesus is both counter cultural and yet somehow ‘cool’ For those of us in middle age or later the urge towards respectability is greater and so, in Britain we do not much mention our faith or much act upon it in a way so as to excite media attention.
    As to what should be ‘done’ there is no answer. Those who call upon the name of the Lord should continue to do so. We should not give up meeting together and learn how to stand politely firm while helping, in whatever way possible, those around who are found to be in need.

  33. Iona says:

    Thank you for the Newman reference, Ignatius. He certainly doesn’t pull his punches, does he? John Candido, I hope you’ve read it, or will do so.

    • ignatius says:

      Iona,
      No, he pulls no punches at all….makes me shiver actually! I recently purchased “The Heart of Newman” which is a synthesis of his work. I only got it because in our Birmingham Diocese he’s all the Archbishop ever speaks about in his pastoral epistles to the churches. So I reluctantly ordered a copy off Amazon for around £10.00. Turns out to be perhaps the best writer I have encountered in a long time, clear lucid and beautiful writing. I recommend him very highly!

  34. Alasdair says:

    In one area of my professional life I frequently encounter (eg yesterday) otherwise perfectly polite reasonable people who are prepared to make very aggressive anti-church and anti-Christian statements for the benefit of anyone within earshot. It seems that Christians are fair game to be misrepresented and insulted in a manner that would not be tolerated by any other group in society.
    I mention that that is in my Professional life because in that context I am not able to fully criticise the individuals for their rudeness and ignorance.

    • David Smith says:

      Alisdair writes:

      // I am not able to fully criticise the individuals for their rudeness and ignorance //

      But is criticizing someone a virtuous thing to do, generally speaking? If one’s teaching, it may be required at times, but even then, I wonder.

      • Alasdair says:

        Perhaps I don’t mean personal criticism. But I do believe that certain attitudes and behaviours need to be challenged. When possible I have challenged unreasonable statements made against the Catholic Church and Catholics. I’m not a Catholic but I dislike brashly-delivered falsehoods. Also my own beliefs share much with Catholicism. And I pop up so often at events among Catholics that several just suppose that I’m a parish member which I think is nice!

      • Alasdair says:

        The brash-falsehoods I refer to often begin with “and as for for the Catholic Church, don’t even get me started on that one”. Of course the speaker fully intends to get started – and continue!

      • FZM says:

        Part of this seems the legacy of the popularity of the New Atheist movement in the 2000s, one of the main goals seems to have been to make extremely strong and outspoken criticism of religion more mainstream and socially acceptable.

        In the UK I think they were, unfortunately, relatively successful. I think Alasdair is right that challenging it where it is useful and appropriate is now important because it seems to have become pretty common and often isn’t well supported.

  35. ignatius says:

    Hi Alisdair,
    I have a professional life too as an osteopath and a clinical tutor at a university. I don’t think it really matters that professionalism discourages direct engagement..its only a modern form of turning the other cheek….I think its quite good for the soul!!

    • Alasdair says:

      Thanks for that.
      An African Evangalical pastor that I know says that one should never place oneself in the position of not being able to declare one’s faith. If that means rejecting certain professional routes in life, then so be it.
      He is very critical of me allowing myself to be constrained in this manner beyond the age that I need to.

  36. ignatius says:

    Alisdair and FMZ,
    Yes there is a point to challenge. I was sitting next to a chap on a train awhile ago, I wasn’t wearing clerics at the time. This chap started banging on about catholics and how the body and blood theory was utter nonsense and how he’d like the chance to meet a priest just to give him what for.. So I rummaged around inside my pocket and produced my prison id (me in dog collar) and said in my best amicable voice :
    “well its your lucky day mate…carry on please do..!”
    Well there were some embarrassed shufflings..a few half starts, a bit of silence and then I had to get off the train for my stop. I was half tempted to stay on a bit just for the ride but unfortunately the lure of home and habit got the better of me.

    I’ve had a go at street preaching and helped at plenty of outdoor evangelistic events over the years (mainly in my pre catholic days) I find good humour and patience generally help with these things. I have a few patients who,I’m sure, only come for a bit of debate on these subjects but overall I think it very important to respect the dignity of persons in discussion and so one has to be mindful that, in the professional arena people come to us for specific purposes. We need to be, as it says, wise as serpents harmless as doves…but there is no especial need to suffer fools gladly!!

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