Benedict spoke of a growing threat to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience and, in Scotland the previous day, of "aggressive forms of secularism" and the "dictatorship of relativism".
Bizarrely, there are people who doubt that aggressive secularism even exists, who deny that the rights of religious believers are under increasing assault in Western societies. But if Richard Dawkins and company are not examples of aggressive secularism then what is?
And if the forced closure of Catholic adoption agencies in the UK and elsewhere because they want children to be adopted by married, opposite-sex couples isn't an example of a direct attack on the rights of religious organisations, then nothing is.
In some parts of the US, Christian nurses have been fired for not performing abortions. In Sweden, you must be willing to perform an abortion if you work in a public hospital. Pharmacists are increasingly being forced to dispense the morning-after-pill (an abortifacient), regardless of their convictions.
In Britain, a nurse was suspended from work for offering to pray for a patient. Christians have been investigated by police for "hate crimes" after handing out literature deemed "offensive" to minorities. In Ireland, a Catholic infertility doctor was recently investigated on a professional misconduct charge because he would only treat married couples.
Also, the Government and opposition parties refused to add a conscience clause to the Civil Partnership Bill, a true example of the "dictatorship of relativism" which insists that no distinction can be made between one "lifestyle choice" and another, and that those who make such distinctions must be penalised.
The most obvious impact of the Pope's visit to Britain was its success as a public spectacle. But he also had a message, and his message was that Christians have to start fighting back against attempts to drive them from public life and deprive them of their legitimate rights.
The visit will have been a real success only if Christians begin to take up that fight. If not, then one day they will wake up and discover that they have been reduced to second-class citizenship.
Friday, 24 September 2010
The director of the Iona Institute, David Quinn, writing in the Irish Independent about the Pope's UK visit: