Can you imagine more than a handful of bishops today doing something like this?
In the days of the King’s Great Matter, only one bishop in England stood fast.
Today at The Catholic Thing, Nicholas Senz has a good piece of self-reflection about the coming hostility we are bound to see from the increasingly stupid, shrill, emotion and slogan-driven secular society by which we are surrounded: our vineyard.
Here is some of Senz’s piece, as we enter in medias res…
The animosity of formerly Christian countries toward the Church is ramping up. After voters eliminated Ireland’s constitutional protection for the unborn, the Irish government has said that Catholic hospitals that wish to keep their government funding will be required to perform abortions. This from a nation that still televises the Angelus every day. And some Australian states have recently passed a law requiring priests who hear of child sexual abuse and other serious crimes in the confessional to break the sacramental seal and report it to the police.
Many Australian priests and at least one bishop have publicly stated they will not comply with the law, which – depending on the state – would mean a hefty fine or even jail time.
If push comes to shove, will they follow through? Will bishops help to pay the fines of their priests, or visit them if they are jailed? Will the Irish bishops be willing to forgo government funding rather than submit to the new abortion regime?
One can hope that the bishops will have the courage, should the time come, to stand by their convictions. Even in a time of increasing secularization and hostility toward the Church in Western countries, bishops still have largely remained respected figures. They are invited to important civil functions and given places of honor. They receive politicians and are pleased to release statements on this or that bill proposed in the legislature.
But things could become quite different quite quickly. In fact, seem likely to. The late Cardinal Francis George may have had it exactly right when he said, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison [I doubt it.] and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”
Speaking of The King’s Great Matter, you’ve all seen the 1966 film of Robert Bolt’s A Man For All Seasons with Paul Scofield (US HERE – UK HERE). Before it was a film, it was a play. I just saw on DVD – thanks to a reader who sent it from my wishlist (Kindle HERE) – the 1988 version with Charlton Heston and Vanessa Redgrave (US HERE – UK HERE). This version is far closer to the play as written, rather than the 1966 screenplay, and it includes material you don’t see in the 1966 movie.
Those were of the days of good and thoughtful play writing. Shall we ever see those days again?