Bishop slams 'tyrannical secularism' trying to drive Christianity from public life
An English Catholic bishop has warned of the tyranny of secularism and likened it to religious fundamentalism, saying that Christianity is being squeezed out by both these 'ideologies'.
Bishop Philip Egan of the Portsmouth Diocese called on Catholics to 'lead the new evangelisation of our land' in a hard-hitting Easter sermon at Portsmouth cathedral, according to the Catholic Herald.
The bishop said that 'two dangerous ideologies' were battling for power in our time, just as communism and fascism had fought each other in the 20th century.
The first of these ideologies is 'fundamentalism – religion without reason', said Bishop Egan. This fundamentalism 'breeds fanaticism, violence, terrorism' and is affecting not only 'the volatile nations of the Middle East', he said, but also the West.
The second ideology, the bishop argued, is secularism, which is growing and trying to drive out Christianity from public life. 'Egged on by Stonewall and others, secularists are on the rise in local government, in education, in the media, in the social services,' he said. 'Hell-bent on burying the Christian patrimony of this land, they propose Orwellian changes to our language and place ever more draconian restrictions on religious expression, even on what we wear.'
Bishop Egan said that although fundamentalism and secularism are apparently opposed, they are linked because they are both 'totalitarian; they're destructive of the human person; they pose a grave threat to human happiness and to a healthy society'.
He went on: 'If we let secularism prevail, British culture will become increasingly unhinged, adrift, prey to emotionalism and to the latest pressure group.
"As we know, this has lethal consequences for the weakest, the unborn child, the handicapped, the elderly, the dying. This is why this Easter as Christians, it's time we said: enough is enough! We need to rise up to the challenge. We need to roll back the agenda.'
Bishop Egan also urged Catholics to 'retrieve and promote Britain's Christian patrimony, its history, art and architecture, its music and literature, its liturgy, theology and ethics'.
Schools should teach knowledge of the Bible, basic prayers and the Christian history of Britain and its saints, the bishop said. 'In this mission, we Catholics are crucial. For much of what has made this country great has been nurtured by our tradition,' he added.
Bishop Egan emphasised the importance of Easter, which 'changes everything'.
He said: 'By dying on the Cross and by rising from the dead, Jesus Christ not only confirmed his teaching and who he claimed to be, he overcame for us sin and its damage, suffering in its various forms, and death, making it the gateway to heaven. This is why Easter changes everything. Jesus now makes his victory available to everyone who wants it through his Church. He invites us by Word and Sacrament to receive his salvation, to unite ourselves to him.'