Sunday 24 February 2013

No relationship at all.

The relationship between the Church and society, or the State, has gone through many changes in its history; most notably with the Edict of Milan and then with the rise of the nation States in the modern era. Today another permutation of this relationship is taking place as the newly secular Western States come to terms with their identity. I believe that what we are seeing today is an implicit move by Western democracies away from any relationship at all with the Church. I don't think that we have woken up to this state of affairs.
I say this because of the widespread rejection of the Christian life by our societies, together with an increasingly firm adherence to a secular way of living. So many baptised people have been going along with this movement for decades. The State's involvement in this movement is explicit in its anti-life laws and, latterly, in moving to change the definition of marriage. Whether or not Western democracies move to explicitly reject the Church remains to be seen, but we can't pretend that they have not rejected the Christian life. The bases for the Christian life and for secular living are radically different and those differences will become more apparent as secular societies become more established.
All of this has taken place during the last four decades. It is a movement somewhat akin to the Renaissance - a complex and largely non-rational movement from deep within humanity which sought to bring about change by returning to an older culture. In the case of the Renaissance, societies took their Christian inheritance with them, sometimes in vastly diminished forms; but today's movement from deep within humanity seeks to free itself totally from its Christian inheritance. The relationship between Church and State is drawing to a swift close and we will soon be living in the same context as the Early Church: pockets of Christian communities within a neo-pagan culture. The Church will soon look very different indeed.
I took the above photo about three years ago during the refurbishment of Our Lady of Lourdes church in Huddersfield. I had been parish priest there. I visited one day while the work was being done and found the tabernacle had been despoiled and set aside, to be replaced by a new one.

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