Friday, 20 May 2016

How authentic Catholics should regard the E.U. Referendum

by Anthony Hofler
E.U. referendum debaters are, predictably, obsessed with secular subjects, primarily those which ‘boil down’ to money and sustaining our debt-financed national standards of living (a few months ago 80% of our gross national product was owed to creditors). No noticeable attention is being paid to reasons why the referendum is important religiously, and to the fact that it puts U.K. Catholics in the same position as that of their Chinese counterparts.
On Good Friday, 25th March, BBC Radio 4’s “P.M.” programme included a feature about the two-dimensional position of Christianity in China. The report would not have been a revelation to people who have taken an interest in the subject, but not everyone has. The basic point is that there is an ‘official’ form of Christianity and an ‘underground’ form. The ‘official’ one (such as the ‘Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association’) is approved and controlled by the Communist Party, and the other one functions in clandestine ways similar to those adopted by English Catholics during penal times. The official ‘Church’ defends and obeys State laws and policies, and provided members do that, they are ‘free’ to be Christians. People unwilling to compromise are underground Christians, who risk harassment and adverse consequences. The most significant part of the Radio 4 report was in an interview with someone described as a pastor of the official ‘Church,’ who said that ‘in our Church we firstly belong to our country, and although we are members of the kingdom of God that is second. I would never disobey the laws of my country.’
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” acknowledges the need for governmental authority , but makes clear that its legitimacy is conditional on compliance with the moral order established by God, and that laws which contravene that order are not binding on people’s consciences . In other words, people are not obliged to regard immoral laws as correct.