Dominican priest speaks out over Jon Cruddas talk...
Blogged by James Preece on 29th October 2011
Fr Leon Pereira OP has sent his thoughts on the matter to Paul Smeaton and given permission for them to be published. Thank you Fr Leon.
Dr Cruddas’ voting record as an MP on abortion and same sex unions is not in keeping with the teaching or mind of the Catholic Church. This matters all the more because I am given to understand that Dr Cruddas describes himself as a ‘practising Catholic’ - a designation at odds with his actions as an MP. His actions appropriate the dimension of scandal precisely because he is a public figure. Therefore what he says and does in public which is contrary to Catholic faith and morals, all the while describing himself as a ‘practising Catholic’, are a scandal to the Faithful and prone to reinforce the assumption that perhaps these things (abortion, same sex unions, etc) do not matter, and that Catholics may reasonably conform their mind to that of the age, and still somehow (mysteriously!) remain fully Catholic without incurring any penalties whatsoever. That is a grave wrong wrought against God and His Church.
Is the Church then unable to dialogue with institutions or individuals who hold certain beliefs contrary to our Faith? Not at all. From the beginning we prayed for the very same emperors and authorities who persecuted and killed us. We appealled to them, to their reason, for tolerance and for the truth (the sole truth that comes from God which they can still perceive by the use of their reason, and not necessarily faith) which enables genuine justice and peace in society.
Notice how in her history the Church has not hesitated to negotiate with authorities, no matter how evil their deeds. We hold out the hope for their conversion and salvation, beginning with the cessation of their evil deeds, but also we do not see anything or anyone as beyond hope whilst they are still in via, still alive.
So in our desire to spread the Gospel, we should never be reluctant to dialogue with anyone, whatever their beliefs, so long as they are genuinely open to dialogue. You cannot dialogue with soliloquists, but we can still pray for them. I see the invitation extended to Dr Cruddas as a great opportunity for the friars at Blackfriars, Oxford, to ascertain where exactly his faith has gone wrong, and how his conscience has come to be so deformed. I am not too surprised that he has ended up like this, because the Church in our country has for too long been filled with compromise on essentials, and tolerated error - error which has poisoned the minds of too many Catholics who take secular assumptions as their yardstick in morals, and not Christ and His authoritative teaching, expressed by His Church.
But when Blackfriars opens its doors to the public to hear Dr Cruddas, this becomes a different matter. The invitation, although not an awards ceremony, nevertheless takes on the air of an accolade. Out of politeness it is unlikely that Dr Cruddas will be asked serious (however awkward) questions. Instead it is most likely he will leave Blackfriars with a sense of vindication, confirmed in his erroneous position by our silence and misplaced courtesy. Is it inconceivable that he or his supporters may say that he was honoured by an invitation to Blackfriars, where he set forth his positions in a well-received and unchallenged lecture, etc? The false impression given then is that Dr Cruddas truly is what he calls himself: a ‘practising Catholic’. And it is the Catholic in the pew who will suffer - either by being misled into error, or by the scandal this will cause.
At the heart of this, I wonder why Dr Cruddas in particular was invited by the Las Casas Institute? There are many MPs to invite, so the reason is unlikely to be his membership of the Commons. I hazard that it is his Catholicism and perhaps his affiliation to the Labour Party. But, as I have said above, his distorted understanding of the Catholic Faith is a scandal because he is a public figure. There seems to be an assumption in this country that to be Catholic is to be Labour. This naivete reached a nadir in the fawning displayed by our Church over that most reprehensible couple Tony and Cherie Blair. In Mr Blair’s case, I cannot understand how he could be received into the Church without a public abjuration of his erroneous beliefs and practices - for example, his own voting record on abortion. These were errors he committed before he became a Catholic, but they were in the public sphere, and his reception as a Catholic without any recantation is a continuing scandal.
The Church must remember that her one Lord and Spouse is Jesus Christ, and not hurry to jump into bed blithely and blindly with any political party or establishment. It is such ‘promiscuity’ which infects us, infects our faith, and makes the Church weak, sick and compromised.
The assumption that the Church’s social teaching is more naturally alligned to the political Left is a false one. The great irony is that Dr Cruddas (who has woefully failed to stand up for the Catholic teaching on abortion by his voting) has been invited by an institute committed to ‘justice and peace’ (our normal shorthand for Catholic Social Doctrine) when the single greatest justice and peace issue in our country is abortion! Is that like inviting the BNP to speak on ethnic minorities?
Justice and peace has, in the U.K., often been interpreted as ‘soft’ issues, that the middle classes can protest safely, for example, nuclear weapons and their disarmament, or ecological issues. I call them ‘soft’ because they do not impact our daily lives, even though we live in the shadow of nuclear destruction and environmental pollution (I am suspicious of ‘Climate Change’ being treated as a pseudo-religion, one which supplants the Gospel in the minds of too many Catholics and Christians; the only unforgiveable sin for them seems to be one’s ‘carbon footprint’). The things which do impact our daily lives are abortion, employment, just wages, euthanasia, the poison of contraception, and the erosion of both marriage and the family.
Perhaps the ‘Cruddas Affair’ is a wake up call to Catholics. Why is the Church so sycophantically snuggling up to the Left? Why do we tolerate errors on this scale? Why are Catholic public figures not brought to task for the scandal they cause? Justice and peace must be at the heart of the Church’s faith and morals, and I mean true justice and peace, and not simply those ‘easy’ or ‘soft’ issues which the wider society will not object too much to, and which does not require individual Catholics to convert to the Gospel.
We sign agreements to make our parishes ‘Fair Trade friendly’. That requires a conversion of sorts, although I understand that Fair Trade as it now stands could be improved and made fairer. But why do we not make a covenant with all our families (remember, they are the ‘domestic Church’ according to Vatican II!) to be ‘Humanae Vitae friendly’? Is it a good use of our energies to chain ourselves to the gates of Faslane, when hundreds of thousands of children are slaughtered in our cities every year? Probably not, but it is easier isn't it? It's easier to moan about carbon footprints than to form our consciences according to the mind of Holy Mother Church. But then the Gospel isn't about what's easier.
Fr Leon Pereira, O.P.
h/t Paul Smeaton