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We will win the arguments over marriage and life – but not just with words

Every sacrifice made by a mother challenges the abortionists’ argument; every vibrant, loving marriage defends that institution

By on Tuesday, 3 April 2012

I have just stumbled across Pastor Juventus’s article in the Herald for March 23 and, as always, wish he had not been moved from his former slot on the centre pages. Tucked away towards the back of the newspaper he is easy to overlook and that is a great pity: he is always pithy, reflective and penetrating. On this occasion he is writing about the current “clash” between the Church and the world. Michael Voris of CatholicTV.com usually discusses the same theme but his manner and presentation are rather like the Redemptorist missions of days gone by, with their emphasis on hell and damnation. After listening to him I am left daunted by the problems facing the Church in today’s society. I come away feeling we are back in the catacombs and not a happy bunch there either.

Pastor Juventus, on the other hand, always leaves me with a sense of hope and encouragement and the possibility of change and renewal. He writes here: “…There is a struggle on hand for the soul of the world, which, while it has some particularly frightening guises in 21st-century England, is actually a perennial struggle, requiring huge efforts and grace…”

He does not decry the need to use intellectual arguments in this struggle but says that victory will only come about through “the incarnate witness of saints and martyrs”. We know this – that’s why we honour the saints – but it is always good to be reminded of it. Pastor Juventus continues: “We have to show that our arguments are right by the manner in which our lives reflect self-sacrificing love. Mother Teresa or John Paul II were effective not because campaigning, but because of the congruency of what they said and how they lived. So a woman’s ‘right to choose’ is challenged every time a woman sacrifices herself for her child in the smallest, tiniest way. The ‘right’ to gay marriage will be most fundamentally challenged by vibrant, holy marriages open to life. And the caricature that priests and bishops are all complicit in paedophilia is challenged by the witness of saintly, joyful priests who embody spiritual fatherhood.”

It sounds so obvious. It makes arguing the case for protecting unborn life, traditional marriage and the importance of strong priestly vocations seem the easier part; the rub lies in the living. On this note there is cheering news about the peaceful prayer vigil last Friday night outside the British Pregnancy Advisory Service’s abortion clinic in central London. Led by Bishop Alan Hopes who had been vilified in the blog and twittersphere for his participation, it was, in microcosm, a triumph of serene, prayerful good over chanting, angry evil. According to Dr Joseph Shaw’s blog the pro-life contingent was between 400-500 people; the crowd opposing them “was less than half that size.”

And in this week’s column, Pastor Juventus describes a recent vocations weekend of discernment for the priesthood in these words: “Like spring flowers, just the sight of these good men tentatively approaching priesthood is a beautiful sight, and one that inspires the heart to hope and praise.”

Finally, the Coalition for Marriage has now attracted over 340,000 signatures in a few weeks. I understand that only 100,000 signatures are needed to start a debate at parliamentary level. Let’s hope it will mean a real debate on the subject and not, as has been anticipated, a foregone conclusion of governmental diktat.

  • Jane Roberts3

    Some discomfort will do you good.

  • Jeannine

    If England can turn back the tide of abortion & same sex marriage with logic & kindness, then the rest of the free world can do it too. Good luck. 

  • theroadmaster

    Francis makes a very obvious but very pertinent point concerning the indispensable link between witness  to the truths of the gospel and an effective opposition to insidious ideologies which would threaten them   Robust debate, whether on television, radio or the print media can effectively reiterate the sound religious, social and anthropological reasons for supporting pro-life and pro-marriage causes, but actions can speak a lot louder than words.  The well-worn but apposite cliche in regards to “walking the walk” as opposed to “talking the talk” neatly sums it all up.  Thousands of Saints and Blesseds through-out the 2000 year history of the Church through their exemplary lives, are clear proof of this.  

  • Afcot

    “I understand that only 100,000 signatures are needed to start a debate at parliamentary level.”

    Yes, if the petition is on the government’s epetitions website. It’s not. Therefore there will be no debate.

  • Aline

    Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV.com (not CatholicTV.com) describes the current state of affairs in the Church which leaves me hopeful, unlike Francis Phillips. He goes to the heart of the crisis and shows that what has befallen the Church is not the result of some determinist forces which are beyond our control, but rather it is the result of a systematic deconstruction of the faith which has happened over the last 40-50 years and is therefore man made. And this leaves us full of hope, because if it is man made, then it is within our grasp to reverse the tide, by reestablishing the faith in its fullness, using the same channels which have been used to detroy it. And I personally welcome his emphasis on Judgement and damnation. I woke up to these realities after reading the thoughts of St Jean Marie Vianey (the Curé of Ars)nand some of the sermons of Blessed John Henry Newman. The prospect of the judgement ought to shape our thoughts and the way we live. If we never hear about it then we run the risk of forgetting about it, as I certainly did, with the eternal consequences that this entails. RealCatholicTV.com is a blessing, it really is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=728802907 Christine Niles

    I’ve seen Michael Voris say the same things as Pastor Juventus above. Voris emphasizes personal holiness and the need for modern-day saints. And he doesn’t sugarcoat the crisis in the Church today, the lack of Catholic identity, and the real danger of hell for souls who do not know or live the faith. It’s the same message as many saints have offered, and I’m grateful for it.