U.K. Society ‘Post-Christian’?

Glasgow archbishop decries waning of religion in public square.

GLASGOW — The archbishop of Glasgow has warned that if the government continues to ignore the wisdom of generations, then society will further descend into “ethical confusion and moral disintegration.”

Archbishop Mario Conti went on to warn that religion is being driven from the U.K. public sphere by a new form of secularist tyranny.

Archbishop Conti was speaking at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh, in the presence of all Scotland’s Catholic bishops, representatives of civil and public life, and the apostolic nuncio to the U.K., Archbishop Antonio Mennini, during a special Mass to mark the seventh anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI.

Asking what society — “now in many respects post-Christian” — expects of the law, he said it is “certainly not the role of law to re-create our society according to passing fashions and ideologies, nor to redefine nature, whether in terms of persons and their rights or its natural institutions.”

“We live in a culture of human rights which appear to be ever more in need of codification and protection,” he said. “And I wonder why; I do not think society of itself ought to be more needful than before law and laws, unless, of course, we can no longer rely on the generality of citizens to act virtuously and according to conscience.”

Referring to the words of Pope Benedict at Westminster Hall during his U.K. visit, when he said that some people wished to deny a religious voice in the public sphere, Archbishop Conti said, “One cannot help remark that those voices are growing ever louder in our country, that attempted marginalization is becoming ever more acute, and we are witnessing the transformation of tolerance into a kind of tyranny in which religious views are the only ones which seem unworthy of respect and acceptance.”

He continued, “Governments which fail to take into account the wisdom that is handed down generation to generation in communities of faith or fail to underscore the right and duty of following informed conscience on the part of citizens will, it seems, inevitably find themselves attempting to be wise by creating ever more legislation and requiring judges to interpret it according to the mores of the day.”

In such a climate, the archbishop suggested that it is hardly surprising that the authorities “seem ready to redefine marriage without any reference to children or to the natural law written on the heart of mankind, putting the claim of ‘equality and diversity’ on a higher level than faith and reason and, ultimately, asserting the moral equivalence between marriage and same-sex unions, contrary to the virtue of chastity.”

He concluded, “Our society will descend further into ethical confusion and moral disintegration the more that those in government and the judiciary slip society’s moorings from the capstans of virtue.”

James Kelly is a columnist for The Universe and a researcher at the University of London.