"Pope Benedict XVI used this year's Good Friday meditations at the Stations of the Cross to compare attempts to purge religion from public life to the mockery Jesus faced from the mob."
"We are shocked to see to what levels of brutality human beings can sink. Jesus is humiliated in new ways even today. When things that are most holy and profound in the faith are being trivialized, the sense of the sacred is allowed to erode. Everything in public life risks being desacralized: persons, places, pledges, prayers, practices, words, sacred writings, religious formulas, symbols, ceremonies. Our life together is being increasingly secularized. Religious life grows diffident. Thus we see the most momentous matters placed among trifles, and trivialities glorified." ... "May we never question or mock serious things in life like a cynic" he prayed. "Allow us not to drift into the desert of godlessness."
The Pope's Good Friday message follows several high-profile British cases in which Christians have been reprimanded by their public-sector employers for talking about their faith at work.
New National Health Service guidelines stated that doctors and nurses faced harassment charges if they were accused of "preaching" to staff or patients, while a draft code of practice for teachers could be used by schools to discipline those who discussed their beliefs with pupils.
Such developments led John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, to proclaim in February that many Christians now "have the daily challenge of living by a set of values that the world thinks are mad."
What do you think of this as part of a Good Friday message?
I don't think the fact that the program of the church is forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ should stop the church from speaking out publicly about matters of the the public sphere. This warning to the world about its cynicism, desacralizing, godlessness, restrictions on freedom of speech needs to be made. Or does it?
Dr. John Patrick, at our Love Life Conference last year, hit a few of the same ideas. He finishes his talks to audiences (friendly and hostile) with: "What kind of world do you want to hand down to your children?"
Individuals who work in public sectors really are impacted by these trends. How can you live your faith at work when you can't say anything? Being muzzled is dehumanizing.
I talked about this article with my brother, Peter, over Sunday dinner and he says some people call Benedict the "Panzer Pope." I had not heard that one. Let him stand for the right things. He even says Catholics should read some Luther. Lord help him.