Benedict XVI refers to riots, relativism when welcoming new British Ambassador. Fr. Z rants.

Five Wounds of Christ BannerIn the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, there is a sound observation about a comment made by Pope Benedict as he formally received the credentials of the new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Holy See.

Pope Benedict XVI has urged the British Government to root its policies in objective values, saying this is “especially important in the light of events in England this summer”. [Rioting.]

In a speech welcoming Nigel Baker, Britain’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Benedict XVI said: “When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism, instead of leading to a society that is free, fair, just and compassionate, tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

“Policy makers are therefore right to look urgently for ways to uphold excellence in education, to promote social opportunity and economic mobility, to examine ways to favour long-term employment and to spread wealth much more fairly and broadly throughout society,” the Pope said.

“Moreover, the active fostering of the essential values of a healthy society, through the defence of life and of the family, the sound moral education of the young, and a fraternal regard for the poor and the weak, will surely help to rebuild a positive sense of one’s duty, in charity, towards friends and strangers alike in the local community.”

The full text of his address can be read here.

The fruits of the dictatorship of relativism are despair and violence and loss of freedom, property and life.

I think that Pope Benedict has what I call his “Marshall Plan” for the Church, especially the Church in Europe.  His concept of the New Evangelization, reintroducing the Faith into areas which were Christian but are losing Christian identity, is an aspect of this.

The West is losing its soul because Christianity – Catholicism in particular – is not being lived by the mature or passed on to the young in a clear form.  After WWII the US helped to rebuild Europe through the Marshall Plan to create good trading partners and to serve as a bulwark against Communism.  In Pope Benedict’s “Marshall Plan” he hopes that we can build up Catholic identity after the ecclesial devastation resulting for various reasons since the Second Vatican Council.  We need a stronger Catholic identity for the sake of souls and to help create a bulwark against secularism and the soul annihilating dictatorship of relativism.

Thus endeth the rant.

The RealmOn that note, however, I would remind the readers here of an fine book by Fr. Aidan Nichols called The Realm: An Unfashionable Essay on the Conversion of England.  If you are in the UK order it HERE.  If you are a Catholic in Dear Ol’ Blighty, and you haven’t read this… well then… just… tisk tisk.  In the US order it HERE (used or import).

Nichols argues that, since Catholic Christianity was at the heart of the development of England, the Catholic Church is essential for a positive transformation of England.

Nichols’ plan for renewal includes:

  • Firmer doctrine in our teaching and preaching [Go back before Vatican II.]
  • Re-enchant the liturgy [The tip of the spear. This should be No. 1, but it is linked to preaching and catechesis.]
  • Recover the insights of metaphysics [Be smart again.]
  • Renew Christian political thought [Be active in the public square.]
  • Revive family life [Stop denying human nature, God’s image, and natural law.]
  • Resacralise art and architecture  [Use God’s “grandchild” well.]
  • Put a new emphasis on monastic life  [Support in prayer for the active.]
  • Strengthen pro-life rhetoric [See above.]
  • Recover a Catholic reading of the Bible [Benedict has lots to say on that.]

I say that the key to any New Evangelization anywhere is a renewal of our liturgical worship under a hermeneutic of continuity with our tradition.  No renewal effort in any sphere of the Church’s life can be successful without a renewal of our liturgical worship.  It is the sine qua non, but they are all interconnected.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, The future and our choices, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Alan Aversa says:

    Fr. Aiden Nichols is a solid Thomist. He wrote an excellent article on THOMISM AND THE NOUVELLE THÉOLOGIE.

  2. Frances M says:

    I fear that before what Fr. Nichols proposes can take place we will see more of the prophetic vision of Fr. Robert Hugh Benson’s Lord of the Rings being played-out. I can picture a Michael O’Brien novel wherein an heir to England’s throne plans to swim the Tiber while being pursued with a vengeance by MI5 types. [I’ll start writing the novel. Perhaps I should move to London for a while to do research!]

  3. WGS says:

    Frances M,
    I may be missing something, but more likely it is Lord of the World, the 1908 novel by Fr. Hugh Benson that you are referring to.

  4. Frances M says:

    WGS, oops! I guess Lord of the Rings would only apply if Fr. Benson had set his novel on Saturn!

  5. Frances M says:

    Father, I see that Lawrence over at That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill has purchased a white van; he is available to drive pilgrims around the UK for a fee, so he could ferry your around as you do your research. Perhaps he could figure in your novel as the get-away driver for the would-be-Catholic heir apparent.

  6. Supertradmum says:

    When Blessed John Paul II visited England, he said there was a mist over the British people. Benedict has shown us the make-up of this mist in his usual perceptive and logical manner. Nichols shows how to undo at least four generations of damage. The problem lies partly in the lack of solid catechesis and in the horrible state of Catholic education in England. Whereas in America, a parent can chose independent Catholic schools, such as the NAPCIS schools, or home schooling, the choices are limited here. The only curative is firstly, extensive adult education, and then, this will shift down to the children.

    One of the biggest faults of Catholics here in England is the quiet acceptance of evil. There is a tacit agreement with evil from the level of the family up to the highest order. What I mean by this is the cooperation with evil by not standing up against it. I have tried to evangelize my own generation here who overlook the fiscal irresponsibility, occult activity, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, abortion, contraception, etc. in their own families by simply accepting these serious sins in their children and grandchildren without comment. At the institutional level, the mode is the same, that is, not confronting evil when it is obvious, and glossing over serious problems in parishes, schools, charities, even chanceries. How this happened, I am not sure, but there are few places where one hears, “Be you perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” British adults seem afraid to stand up for Truth, and the result is the fog and miasma of relativism and false tolerance.

  7. UncleBlobb says:

    @Fr. Z.: I am asking this in a spirit of docility, and a willingness to be guided, not in a desire to be an armchair Pope: What would be wrong with the Pope coming out and asking the British government to openly convert and become faithful, practicing Catholics, and legislate from that objective morality? Is he merely couching this in his statements? (I’m quite biased, and can’t see the forest from the trees I think).

  8. Revixit says:

    @Frances M, I knew what you meant. Every Catholic should read Robert Hugh Benson’s work, especially Lord of the World, a dystopian novel that will at certain points make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. Entirely too much of it reads as if it were written in the 21s century but the author died before World War I, in 1914.

    One of the great things about having a Kindle or other e-reader is that you can download a lot of old books by authors who were very popular a century and are still good reading but have been forgotten for the most part in the latter part of the century. After reading a couple of Msgr. Benson’s books, I found this article:

    I think reading his life story will help encourage other Catholic readers to look for his books and read them, Most of the books are available free as Kindle books at Amazon but a few are priced much like current novels. Some may also be available free online at one of the many free e-books sites.

Comments are closed.