Friday 6th November 2015: Be Not Afraid!

“Be not afraid” were the very first words from the great pope of the family, St. John Paul II, as he stepped out on to the balcony at St. Peter’s Rome to greet the awaiting crowds as the newly elected pontiff. Why did this holy bishop utter these now famous words on such an auspicious occasion? It was because he wanted to embody his divine commission as successor of St Peter to ‘confirm the faith of the brethren’ to feed the lambs, to look after the sheep from the outset in his new role. But underneath all that, this extraordinary human being had an epochal sense of history especially in respect of the family, and he knew what severe strain and spiritual attack marriage and the family were yet to endure. And so his exhortation to exercise moral courage for the family was his emblematic signature. The reason I share this is because I for one feel these direct threats and attacks upon Christian morality personified in matrimony and family will get worse. As Christians we know that Satan usually gets angrier as his grip on popular culture tightens. It’s also a sign that Truth is on our side so we need not be browbeaten however disheartened we might feel. On the other hand we must be vigilant and realistic about the threats too.
On the October 14th, a theatre play called FEAR had its premiere in Berlin. In it, five  persons known for speaking out against the sexualisation of children and gender ideology are portrayed as protagonists: Birgit Kelle, Gabriele Kuby, Hedwig von Bevoerfoerde, Beatrix von Storch and Frauke Petry. Actors appear on stage under their names with pictures of them on their faces and behave as hateful and aggressive zombies. One line from the script says: “Shoot zombies right into their face, as only then, they will be really dead”.
A week later, Beatrix von Storch was the victim of an arson attack on her car.  Another week later, Hedwig von Beverfoerde’s car was firebombed setting fire to an adjacent building which housed their family business. The next day, an anonymous letter appeared on the internet, saying that she  was the target because she is the organiser of the regular demonstrations in Stuttgart against the implementation of an aggressive LGBT school curriculum. Her family business address was the one used for registering the demonstrations with the police.

Catholic Blogger and philosopher Dr. Josef Bordat had reported and commented on this arson attack and was immediately the target of several death threats. He has suspended his blog for now out of fear of physical attacks and for the ongoing safety of his family. No doubt like the UK, Germany has laws against acts which wilfully incite violence or active hatred but whether or not a fitting punishment will be meted out against the producers of the play and perpetrators of the arson remains to be seen. Gabriele Kuby will be coming to talk about her work in Germany and the rights of parents next March and we shall be hosting her visit and a lecture at Vaughan House as part of our post-synodal series of formation and enrichment events during 2016. She and her fellow defenders of family values may not have shed blood but their white martyrdom is no less real and tangible, a suffering on behalf of Christ and His truth about human sexuality and the family.  I hope many will come to hear what she has to say next March.

“Be not afraid” said the great St John Paul II, and in that vein I highly recommend the excellent book;“Beyond the Birds and the Bees – Raising Sexually Whole and Holy Kids” by Greg and Lisa Popcak. This is a gem of a book full of practical advice for parents but suitable for anyone who wants to be better equipped intellectually and spiritually to pre-emp and fend off the inevitable attacks which will come our way and already do for many families on a daily basis.  As I plough through this book I will share whatever I draw from it in future Fasts. For now I leave you with a comment on the cover: “An answered prayer for parents working to raise faithful Catholic children in a sexually confused culture.”

I was privileged to meet  Mr and Mrs Popcak and their family at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September. What a powerhouse of evangelical Catholicism they are. But whilst they espouse Catholic vision and truth they recognise that many fall short of it and are wounded so their innovative tele-counselling service (www.catholiccounsellors.com) tries to provide professional, practical, pastoral assistance to individuals and families facing all manner of problems. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have something like this here in Britain!
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