Archbp. of Westminister’s aide calls Britain ‘hedonistic wasteland…geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death’

UPDATE 2 Sept 1834 GMT:

His Hermeneuticalness, Fr. Finigan, weighs in.


From The Guardian with my emphases and comments:

Archbishop’s aide calls Britain a ‘hedonistic wasteland’

Riazat Butt, religous affairs correspondent
1 September 2010 12.02 BST

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster has distanced himself from an aide who said gay rights  and the commercialisation of sex had turned Britain into a "selfish, hedonistic wasteland" and "the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death". [First, is that true? Second, if that is true, was it right to say it in that position?]

The comments from Edmund Adamus, director of pastoral affairs at the diocese of Westminster and an adviser to the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, have angered gay rights and secularists groups and provoked embarrassment among the Catholic hierarchy weeks before the pope visits Britain.

Senior figures, including Lord Patten of Barnes, have been keen to stress that the UK, while secular, is not anti-Catholic and that the pope is not flying into hostile territory.

Adamus told the Catholic news agency Zenit there was an "aggressive anti-Catholic bias towards the church and the pontiff" in this country that exceeded even countries that violently persecuted Christians.

"Historically, and continuing right now, Britain, and in particular, London, has been and is the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death.

"Our laws and lawmakers for over 50 years or more have been the most permissively anti-life and progressively anti-family and marriage, in essence one of the most anti-Catholic landscapes, culturally speaking, than even those places where Catholics suffer open persecution." [Our readers in the UK will have to chime in on this.]

He also talked about marriage and the role of men and women, urging Catholics to "exhibit counter-cultural signals against the selfish, hedonistic wasteland that is the objectification of women for sexual gratification." [Isn’t this the sort of thing that one should hear from bishops rather than just from bishops’ aides?]

"Britain in particular, with its ever-increasing commercialisation of sex, not to mention its permissive laws advancing the ‘gay’ agenda, is such a wasteland."

A spokesman for Nichols said the views expressed by Adamus "did not reflect the archbishop’s opinions". [?]

Ben Summerskill, from the gay rights group Stonewall, said the comments were "gratuitously offensive". ["gratuitously??]

He told the Independent: "The gratuitously offensive comments being made by the archbishop’s adviser are hardly likely to promote sensitive debate about respect for religion in the 21st century. [What a curious way to reframe the context.] You would think that, given its present status, the Roman Catholic church in Britain would be slightly more sensitive about wagging its finger at other people".


So, the Church has had sinners as members, therefore the Church shouldn’t raise it’s voice in public.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. More to the point, one main reason there were pedophile priests was that there were priests who believed in certain things: like hedonism, and the right to have sex with whatever kind of person you like. Mr. Adamus is therefore in a position to preach, from experience, all about the harm that certain attitudes and ideas have done as well as what they can do.

    (People often do things against their beliefs, of course; but the more recent pedophile crew seem to have been a self-justifying bunch, not people fighting inclinations they themselves see as horrible and wrong.)

  2. EXCHIEF says:

    So, in other words, the truth hurts?

  3. irishgirl says:

    EXCHIEF-you got that right!

    Bravo to Mr. Adamus for calling a spade a spade!

    I am tired of the constant ‘whinging’ from the homosexuals and the secularists!

  4. Desertfalcon says:

    I’m only surprised that when a good Catholic is talking about, “the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death”, for once, it isn’t a reference to America. I pray to St. Michael for the Holy Father’s visit, that he may in safety proclaim Christ’s Word to the British people and that they will hear.

  5. Jordanes says:

    If his statements do not reflect the Archbishop’s opinions, perhaps the Archbishop should consider whether or not he really should be an archbishop.

  6. doanli says:

    I second what EXCHIEF said.

    The West has become Missionary territory again.

  7. William says:

    ((….Britain into a “selfish, hedonistic wasteland” and “the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death”.)) Truer words were never spoken. Don’t believe it?, just tune into any BBC broadcast. BCC has turned distortion and fact-engineering of current events into an malign artform–especially when they report on the Roman Catholic Church.

  8. janek3615 says:

    Great Britain’s prelates are even more timid and furtive than their American counterparts when it comes to speaking out against a society that is now drenched in depravity and mendacity. So if it takes an “aide” to awaken the slumbering shepherds, then may the Lord grant us many more such aides.

  9. shadowat says:

    In brief, yes, the aide is right in what he said. My rather lengthy experience of England occurred two years ago yet what the aide is saying was already very prominent and present.

  10. Hidden One says:

    “[Ben Summerskill] told the Independent: ‘The gratuitously offensive comments being made by the archbishop’s adviser are hardly likely to promote sensitive debate about respect for religion in the 21st century. [What a curious way to reframe the context.] You would think that, given its present status, the Roman Catholic church in Britain would be slightly more sensitive about wagging its finger at other people’.”

    I think that that’s the most important part of the article.

  11. Jack Hughes says:

    Essentially the good padre is correct; I believe that more brits per 1000 population murder our unborn children than americans (we’ve also been doing it for longer) and that the only reason you americans have murdered more (in total)is the fact that the there are 5 times and many people in American than in Britain.

    Also our country is sooo much more sodom friendly (even the tories love so called gay rights) and every night thousands of women go to city centres dressed like prostitutes in order to get exceedingly drunk, start and fornicate with the most oafish man possible and the guys arn’t much better. ITS HELL here in the UK

  12. St Chad says:

    Serious commentators on British cultural issues seem to agree that England is no longer a Christian country. It seems inconceivable, doesn’t it? But apparently it is true. The gradual self-destruction of the Church of England by its embrace of modernity, secularism, and ‘relevance’ [a spirit originating from the Second Vatican Council, I am convinced), has been largely responsible for the un-churching of the British people. In addition, successive British governments in our time have been set upon a course to establish a modern secular state where no one is offended by even the vestiges of Christian values, culture, or belief – once established and protected by British law! There are beautiful church buildings throughout England – but they are largely empty. One is led to the inescapable conclusion: without a robust and believing Church [even a schismatic one], Christian civilization will not survive. England’s plight today proves this point. For unbelievers and secularists, their dream has come true.
    Some see the Roman Catholic Church as the last hope for Christianity in Britain. Can this true? Or is British Catholicism headed in the direction of the other national Catholic churches in Europe? It would be interesting to hear from English Catholics on this subject.

  13. A spokesman for Nichols said the views expressed by Adamus “did not reflect the archbishop’s opinions”.

    This is different than the archbishop saying these were not official statements or an expression of the aides personal opinions. Saying they did not reflect the archbishop’s opinions says that the archbishop holds different views, even if not explicitly stated. It raises questions – most importantly, how exactly does the archbishop’s opinion differ?

  14. sawdustmick says:

    As a Catholic living in the UK, I would first ask for your prayers for the visit of our beloved Holy Father in a little over two weeks.

    Secondly, I agree with Jack Hughes, it is very depressing hearing all the bad news and looking at the way society is heading together with attacks on the Faith. Whilst a lot of these attacks are overt (Messrs. Dawkins and Tatchell spring to mind), there are a lot more covert attacks that can chip away at your resolve. Have a pop at a Jew or a Moslem in the public arena and you will be castigated at the very least. “Catholic baiting” seems fair game though.

    What saddens me the most however, is the lack of someone in the Hierarchy actually spearheading the fight back (or at least it APPEARS that there is no-one doing this !).

    Our Lady of Walsingham – Pray for us.

  15. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Jack Hughes:

    You wrote: *Also our country is sooo much more sodom friendly (even the tories love so called gay rights) and every night thousands of women go to city centres dressed like prostitutes in order to get exceedingly drunk, start and fornicate with the most oafish man possible and the guys arn’t much better. ITS HELL here in the UK*

    I laughed out loud because I thought: “If Jack gets ordained some day, I know for a fact I will not fall asleep during his homilies. Here is a man who is neither poetic, diplomatic, nor timid to state what he thinks.” It reminds me of the things the Irish clergy were known to say from American pulpits “back in the day.”

    If the crowds need to be kept from falling asleep as they await the arrival of the Holy Father for the beatification Mass, I nominate you, Jack, to be placed in front of them for ongoing commentary on the moral and spiritual state of England. That would be an earful LOL.

  16. Fr. Sotelo: I second your motion.
    Jack is a “force to be reckoned with”LOL!
    God luv him!

  17. Jack Hughes says:

    @Fr Soleto

    Thankye kindly Padre, although I may have to tone it down a bit because I hope to join the Fathers of Mery and well… I shall be including Mercy along with the hellfire (I’m no jassenist), also In person I do tend to add a rhetorical flourish hear and there(I need to learn from St Augastine) – but assuming I am ordained and my homilies do have any effect it will be because of the Lord and not because of me.

    @St Chad – it depends where you are; at Reading (where I go for the FSSP Mass on Sunday) we have a strong,native, faithfull congregation, in Bristol we rely everemore on Fillipino, Far eastern and eastern european immigrants to keep the numbers up.

  18. lizzy17 says:

    Hi everyone – I know Edmund personally and I have to tell you that his job may be in trouble as a result of this interview. I want to appeal to all of you who have been commenting here to please write to the Archbishop and the archdiocese, and tell them how much you appreciated what he said in the article and that you are happy to hear an official Church spokesman defending families and speaking out against the anti-life nature of our society. If a bunch of you write to Archbishop Nichols, it may help Edmund to keep his job. Also, most importantly, please pray for him. I just spoke to him, and he was very downhearted as he has received a lot of horrible personal abuse over this. Thank you all.

  19. pattif says:

    Edmund Adamus is a seriously good man, doing a seriously good job, and his analysis is essentially correct. Not only do we have the appalling levels of abortion referred to by Jack Hughes, not only do alarming numbers of our young people think that the only way to have a good time is to get as out-of-control-drunk as possible as quickly as possible and then sleep with whoever happens to be near at hand, we also have the legally enforced closure or secularisation of Catholic adoption agencies, the dismissal from employment of nurses or social workers who dare to mention God or prayer to their clients, the suspension of workers who dare to wear crucifixes, as well as politicians claiming that Catholics are unfit to hold public office because of their “unacceptable views”.

    Britain is not a Christian-friendly place to be, and it seems as if our bishops’ preferred strategy is to convey the impression that Catholics are really just the same as everyone else; Edmund’s comments wouldn’t be found in the episcopal playbook.

    Paradoxically, in such a Godless atmosphere, the longing for God, particularly among those who do not realise that it is God for whom they are searching, is almost tangible (think of the quasi-religious reaction to Princess Diana’s death; Cardinal Hume recognised that as a crying out for God).

    For that reason, the Holy Father’s visit has the potential to yield unimaginable fruit. Please pray for this, and pray also for us, that we may be prepared for the opportunities for evangelisation that will undoubtedly come in the wake of the visit.

  20. Gabrielle says:

    Edmund Adamus is a very good man, and the difference which his work has made in the diocese is tangible. His organisation in particular of the ToB lectures and the speakers he has attracted bear witness to this. When I read his interview in Zenit it articulated everything which is true about Britain. And yes, the deafening silence from the hierarchy when we are under attack is utterly dispiriting (hence the anger expressed towards CBCEW by so many).
    I have now displayed photos of the Holy Father on the outside of my home in anticipation of his visit, and am waiting for the hate mail to come through the letter box, or the police to knock at the door (and this is not in jest). We do indeed need many prayers here in the UK, and thank God for Mr Adamus’ courageous witness.

  21. Leonius says:

    It is true and every Catholic should be saying the same, that is part of what Catholics are meant to do.

  22. robtbrown says:

    A spokesman for Nichols said the views expressed by Adamus “did not reflect the archbishop’s opinions”.

    Ambiguous enough . . . but do they reflect reality?

  23. Dave N. says:

    It seems the Abp. is well acquainted with that special dance known as the “bishop backpedal.”

  24. Martial Artist says:

    @lizzy (or anyone else who knows),

    Is the correct form of address for a Catholic Archbishop in the UK Your Excellency? I am pretty sure, as a former Episcopalian (newly received into the Catholic Church this past Pentecost) that it wouldn’t be M’lord, as would be used toward a Bishop/Archbishop of the (established) CofE, the latter being by virtue of their ecclesiastical office seated in the House of Lords. I intend to write Archbishop Nichols, but would like to correctly observe the formalities involved.

    Thanks to any Brit (or other reader) who can properly inform me.

    And you may count on my prayers for Mr. Adamus (I assume from the references here, the article, and his photo on the Diocesan website that he is not ordained—is that assumption correct?).

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  25. sawdustmick says:

    @Martial Artist

    The correct terminology in the UK is

    Your Eminence (His Eminence) for a Cardinal
    Your Grace (His Grace) for an Archbishop
    Your Lord (His Lordship) for a Bishop

  26. irishgirl says:

    lizzy, Jack and SawDustMick (and any other Brit commentators here)-

    I found the email address for His Grace Archbishop Nichols on the Westminster archdiocesan website, and I’m going to send off a message to him to please support Mr. Adamus in this matter.

    I pray for Britain in this time of tension….Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for the people of Britain. All you Holy Martyrs of England, especially St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, pray for the Catholics of England, that they will have the courage you had in standing up for the Church and for Christ’s Vicar on earth, Our Holy Father Benedict XVI!

  27. Lisieux says:

    I’ve just sent this message to the Archbishop:

    I’m just mailing to support Edmund Adamus’s comments: they’ve receive bad publicity in the media, but hit the nail on the head. It’s refreshing to hear someone speak up in defence of Catholic teaching (and, indeed, the natural law) – nor were his words exaggerated. I teach in a girls’ grammar school*, full of ‘nice girls’ – intelligent, from supportive homes, mostly gaining places at excellent universities. From the age of about 14 or 15, the majority of them spend their Friday and Saturday nights getting blind drunk and ‘having sex’ with anyone around. They are in no way ashamed of this – they regard it as normal and natural, and chat in class about their exploits and those of their friends (most of the latter comments poking fun at girls at the party/in the pub or club who were even drunker than they were): hence my knowledge. The school’s PSHE programme from Year 9 upwards consists largely of instructions about ‘safe sex’, by which is meant wearing a condom, together with a fair amount of material about sexual harassment, rape and abuse: it is never suggested that avoiding unpleasant sexual experiences might be easier were the girls not drunk in the first place.

    I should be grateful if you would pass on my comments to Mr Adamus.

    *For non-British readers, a grammar school over here has boys or girls from the age of 11 to 18, selected by academic ability.

  28. lizzy17 says:

    Sawdustmick beat me to it! It is your Grace as he’s not a Cardinal. And he’s not a priest, he’s a married man with children. Thank you Keith and also Jack, that’s so good of you both. When I next speak to him, I’ll make sure he knows that there are many faithful Catholics who think he was very brave to say what he said.

    I’m an American living in the UK, and I have to agree with Edmund, Gabrielle and Pattif – the UK is essentially lacking in any moral direction whatsoever. I’m lucky enough to be going to see the Pope when he comes, but I am a bit worried that something horrible will happen when he comes – the media, the government and a huge chunk of the general public have an outrageous amount of animosity for the Holy Father.

  29. annieoakley says:

    Here’s a link to the gay Soho Masses website:

  30. irishgirl says:

    I just sent off an email to Archbishop Nichols, asking him to support Mr. Adamus and ‘not let him be devoured by the slings and arrows of the secularist and homosexual groups’ who want to get him.

    I said to His Grace, ‘Stand firm! Be like St. Thomas Becket and St. John Fisher! Show Our Holy Father that you are a ‘good shepherd’ who will give your life for your flock!’

    lizzy-I’m concerned too about the Holy Father’s safety. We have to storm heaven for his protection!

  31. lizzy17 says:

    We definitely do – although I think it’s more likely that the media will come up with/create another controversy or that someone will try to arrest him. The Protest the Pope people in particular are a cause for concern. Also, there was a Birmingham-based Islamic magazine (I can’t remember the name) that suggested that Muslims in Birmingham should go to Cofton Park and protest the Pope while trying to convince all the Catholics of the error of their ways, so a large protest might happen there.

  32. pattif says:

    Personally, I am convinced that, even as we speak, there is, in some murky corner of the media, being knitted a story of some horrendous scandal that will break just as His Holiness’s plane touches down. I think all of us in the UK should think of ourselves as auxiliary members of Catholic Voices, and prepare ourselves to give a coherent defence of the Church and our faith. This will be particularly important since, given the amount of support Edmund
    Adamus has received from his superiors since he gave that interview, we won’t be able to rely on anyone else to do the defending for us.

    Lizzy17 – I am also an American living in the UK (for MANY years), and I have the growing feeling that I am living through the declining years of the Roman Empire, as described by St. Augustine in City of God. I am also fortunate enough to be looking forward to seeing the Holy Father when he comes, but I think we should worry less about what might happen and see the visit as a moment of great grace.

  33. Jack Hughes says:

    lizzy17 and pattif

    Where in the UK are you? I’m in Bristol and well……. I generally don’t go to the city centre after 7ish in the evening as it constitute an near occasion of sin

  34. Genna says:

    The media shock horror reaction is all the greater because no existing English bishop has ever been known to expound the Catholic faith in the public square public. On the contrary, in many respects they have endorsed anti-Catholic views by their studied silence. The more they fail to speak out, the more virulent the attacks. They think that if they close their eyes and can’t see anyone, then no-one will see them. But we can see them for what they are: moral cowards. Towards their own faithful laity they are arrogant and disdainful. They want power without responsibility.
    I shall send my email to the Archbishop and pray extra hard for Mr. Adamus. He represents true Catholics far more than any bishop.

  35. lizzy17 says:

    Jack, I’m in Hertfordshire, and it’s not too bad, but not too good either. The local parish, unfortunately, is a liturgical disaster.

    Patti, I couldn’t agree with you more. I thought the US had its problems, but now that I live in the UK, I miss it is a fair bit. I suppose we shouldn’t worry too much, but it is deeply disappointing to see how the Archbishop failed to defend Edmund and essentially flung him to the wolves. Combined with the media hostility, it does make me a bit nervous. But all we can do is pray and be grateful that we are able to see the Holy Father.

  36. medievalist says:

    I’m a Canadian who studied in England from 2006-2009. The “hedonistic wasteland” is ABSOLUTELY true (note this applies to the prevailing culture not all Britons, since there are many good Britons…”will You spare it for the sake of five?”). Britain is not the epicentre of the culture of death (Holland, with legal means to euthanise infants takes this dubious prize), but it isn’t far off.

  37. pattif says:

    I’m in London, fortunately in a wonderful parish.

    Medievalist – You have a point that things in the Netherlands are even more dire than in the UK, but I would suggest that the English language and London’s position as a geographical crossroads entitles it to the title of “epicentre”. And the unrelenting pressure to take UK law down the Dutch route is very worrying.

    I’m old enough, and have been here long enough, to remember Pope John Paul’s visit. It was on-again-off-again, right up until the last minute, because of the Falklands War, and it was put out that we couldn’t have unlimited numbers at open-air Masses because it wouldn’t look right when the UK was at war with a Catholic country.

    Nevertheless, the impact was extraordinary. Everyone I knew either was Catholic, had been to a Catholic school, had a Catholic granny, had a next-door-neighbour who had a Catholic cat, or whatever: the level of interest and desire to be involved was amazing. Unfortunately, little was done to follow up on this enormous expression of interest in the Catholic faith, and I have always regarded it as an opportunity missed.

    My prayer for this visit is that its fruits will not be squandered in the same way.

  38. I don’t think it is good – in general – to post other people’s e-mail addresses openly on blogs.

    The fact is automated bots pick up email addresses and then the people get attacks and spam, etc.

    Describe where they can be found, perhaps.

  39. JARay says:

    Edmund Adamus is correct and should be supported by his Archbishop, not contradicted.

  40. sawdustmick says:

    Lizzie, I’m in Hertfordshire too. My parish is safe with our current PP.

  41. lizzy17 says:

    Sawdustmick, where in Hertfordshire? We seem to have a good Parish Priest, but the associate priest is an utter disaster, and he’s been in charge since I’ve moved down.

  42. People just can’t stand the truth these days. Not surprising for those living a great apostasy.

  43. VincentUK says:

    Edmund is a fine man doing a great job. He helped us at SPES a lot. These comments to Zenit show, once again, that he has his finger on the pulse of our culture.

    lizzie17 and sawdustmick – where are you in Hertfordshire? I have just moved to London Colney (outside St Albans) and am looking for a good parish.

  44. irishgirl says:

    I apologize for putting out the Archbishop’s email address, Father Z-I didn’t think about the possibilities of spam and such things.

    Am I ‘forgiven’?

  45. sawdustmick says:

    @Lizzie17 and @VincentUK

    I am in Stevenage. St. Hildas Parish Shephall. It IS a OF Parish so there are occasionally hymns that jar with me, but as our PP has said “You can’t bugger around with the Liturgy” We do have EMHC’s for Distribution of Holy Communion (Sacred Host only) standing, but several People do Kneel. None of the EHMC’s are allowed to approach the Tabernacle. Link here.

    Over the border into Bedfordshire (About half hour from Stevenage) you have the Parish of Flitwick (M1 Junction 12) where the FSSP celebrate the EF Mass at 17.00 hrs on a Sunday. and Parish website

    There are EF Masses arranged on a Sunday at 15.00 hrs in Baldock (1st Sunday) and Old Hall Green (Near Ware) the rest of the month by the Latin Mass Society BUT several have been cancelled over the summer due to lack of a Priest to celebrate.

    That’s enough links for now methinks !

  46. sawdustmick says:

    Spot the deliberate mistake in the acronym !

  47. jaykay says:

    The situation is unfortunately quite similar in Ireland, saturated as it is with the UK media and its home-grown wannabes who, in their unceasing efforts to be hip n’ cool & keep up with their perceived “betters”, regularly lambaste the Church and orthodoxy in general. And the scenes in the larger towns & cities after darkness are pretty much the same as Jack Hughes et alii described in Britain.

    We’re hosting the 2012 Eucharistic Conference, first time since 1932. Oh dear… it’s going to be a fraught time :(

  48. epsilonofGod says:

    I totally concur with the comments from the UK and Ireland. Especially Genna:
    “The media shock horror reaction is all the greater because no existing English bishop has ever been known to expound the Catholic faith in the public square… in many respects they have endorsed anti-Catholic views by their studied silence. The more they fail to speak out, the more virulent the attacks… we can see them for what they are: moral cowards. Towards their own faithful laity they are arrogant and disdainful. They want power without responsibility… Mr. Adamus. He represents true Catholics far more than any bishop.”

    All I can say is thank God for Edmund Adamus who is speaking out for true Catholic values in the run up to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit. We need to hear the truth spoken about the state we are in and what the Church is doing to help us get back on track.

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