The Holy Father has beatified Cardinal John Henry Newman to the immense joy of the Faithful in the United Kingdom. Pope Benedict XVI has graced us with his presence to the boundless joy of the Faithful in the United Kingdom. Dawkins and his followers, who are beginning to sound more and more shrill, bitter and rabid, are incensed by the fact that the Government invited him and they howl with derision at him and his message. Yet, it is our joy, the visible joy of believers that he will have despised the most, our devotion, that will have appalled him, our delight, which will have caused him great dismay!
What the scenes in London, of huge support for the Pope, in Birmingham this morning at the Beatification of Newman, the wonderful show of emotion and support in Scotland, tell us, and tell Dawkins, is that it is us, not the Pope that should give the firebrand atheists the greatest concern. We are told that around 10,000 people turned out in support of the atheist cause for protesting the presence of the Holy Father, told of all the ethical and sexual hang-ups, suspicions and prejudices they have against the Pope and the Catholic Church - but how many have turned up to bear witness to their love for the Pope, their love of the Church, their love for the Lord Jesus!
The figures simply cannot compare and over the course of the weekend, the idea that the Catholic Church commands only a modicum of support and devotion should finally be laid to rest. We are here and we are not going to go away! That, surely, will be the aspect of the overwhelmingly successful Papal Visit that will sadden militant atheists the most. They had thought that their creed was in the ascendancy and that we were dying, if not dead, but it simply isn't true and TV footage of the outpouring of love for the Successor of St Peter is there for them, the UK and the whole World to see! Deo gratias!
Even Shine Jesus Shine could not dampen our enthusiasm for the day...
What it tells us is that we need to step out of the ghetto and to wear our Catholic faith on our sleeves. It is a rallying call. Peter has come to 'strengthen the brethren' and we, in the Laity indeed are strengthened by him whose sacred duty is to confirm Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity in the Faith! We have to stop hiding our light under a bushell. We, the Laity, have to play our part in order to build that city upon the hill that burns brightly with the light of Christ, so that all men may see it, because without the Laity, the Church simply would cease to exist.
It is easy for the secularists and the militant atheists to attack the Pope, Priests and Bishops because they have years, centuries even, of anti-Catholic sentiment to draw upon, but it is the Laity who give the Church the greatest credibility and we are harder to attack. If we had not turned out to see the Holy Father then the atheists would have declared the Faith dead, but, to their embarrassment and disappointment, we did turn out and in quite vast numbers. Ultimately, the huge crowds showing our support for the Holy Father lend the Pope, the Church and Her mission a measure of public credibility that alone, by itself the Papacy and the Hierarchy of the Church cannot give Her.
While refraining from crying out, "We are the Church", there is a sense in which the huge crowds testify to our important role in bearing witness to Christ and His Church. Militant atheists and their footmen despise the Pope and can claim many things about him and throw calumny against him without too much reproach, for he is a soft target, but Dawkins cannot attack us so easily, for fear of appearing bigoted to those who also share his views, but are not yet, how shall we say, 'radicalised'.
The coverage of the Pope meeting the Queen and many others will have irritated these atheists, but seeing images of us praying, faithfully, before the Blessed Sacrament will have really and truly have got under the skin of those who promote atheism and attack the Faith of Christ. It is our Faith that needs to be relit and placed upon the hill for the World to see. It is to us, also, that the Holy Father entrusts the visible proclamation of the Gospel in our everyday lives, in our work, our words, our speech, our actions and our interaction with others, because the Priesthood and the Hierarchy carry different associations in terms of the perception of those who do not believe. It is we, the Laity, who are the greatest threat to the vicious rise of atheism in this country!
By the way...Cardinal Kasper was right.