Can you imagine bishops doing something like this today?

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.

And then there’s the 1964 film of Becket (US HERE – UK HERE), which was also originally a play in French by Jean Anouilh called Becket ou l’honneur de Dieu (Becket or The Honour of God).

Those were of the days of good and thoughtful play writing. Shall we ever see those days again?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Religious Liberty, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, The Olympian Middle and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. frjimt says:

    From the office today: for the honor of him who lives us, it is proper to obey w/out hypocrisy; for a man does not so much deceive the bishop he can see as try to receive the bishop he cannot see.

  2. In countries that have purported to outlaw the seal of the confessional it will be even worse than we think. Because the only way for the government to know a priest has failed to turn in penitents is by bugging confessionals or sending in plants. The covert attacks on the seal will be even worse than the overt ones.

    And I have no confidence in today’s bishops. Nearly all of them have remained silent for decades in the face of intrinsic evils gaining acceptance in secular culture. In the world’s wars against their flocks, most of them are nowhere to be seen on the battlefield, unless they are fighting for the other side.

  3. philosophicallyfrank says:

    We should not be surprised by what is a continually growing effort to destroy the Church. There have been two Apparitions of the Blessed Mother since WWII when She foretold of the coming battles within the Church itself and there was the 1969 radio of a series of preachings, by, then, Fr. Ratzenger foretelling the coming loss of the Church’s loss of power, influence, property and returning to what it was some 2,000 years ago.The two Apparitions were Tre Fontane in France in 1947 and Akita, Japan from 1973 to 1981.

  4. Dismas says:

    In a word, no.

    I expect a poorer ratio of courageous, faithful bishops than was tallied in England around 1534. Courage, like any other virtue, becomes flaccid and atrophied when not exercised regularly. Perhaps in fifty years’ time we may see better? But perhaps by then, even the decadent Jesuits may have returned to their far more noble roots.

    After all, by then, the world will be far, far darker. The priesthood will no longer be viewed as anything but a sacrifice unto a very painful death.

  5. maternalView says:

    A few courageous priests and Bishops, but no more than we see now addressing today’s troubles, will endure the coming trial with the faithful.

    Most clergy and laity simply aren’t prepared for what may come. They have no spiritual strength. Greeting your neighbor at the start of Mass, belting out On Eagles Wings, enduring a homily that could mean anything you want it to mean as long as you remember to be a nice person and making sure you “get” communion hardly prepare one to die for the faith.

    I wonder how many would still call themselves Catholic if it meant they were expected to die for their faith? It motivates me. I know I’m woefully underprepared.

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  7. Gaetano says:

    Today’s bishops should recall that Sts. Peter & Paul weren’t invited to celebrity events and garden parties when they preached. People rioted against them.

  8. Gaetano says:

    To paraphrase an old political saw: “Christanity ain’t bean bag.”

  9. davidjhickey says:

    Re Best Scene. I beg to differ. See attached.

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