(The Vatican’s Right to Speak ?)



An old petition is attempting to surface " spontaneously " once more. The Vatican ought to be deprived of international diplomatic representation because it is not " secular ". This is a modern version of an old tactic of oppressing and getting rid of those who think differently. The oppressors wish, not only to impose their will or their ideas, but also to have them unanimously declared right.

Henry VIII of England for example, was not content to be the pompous king enlightened in accordance with the criteria of the Renaissance. For him, it was not enough to change wives ; he wanted everyone’s approval of his behaviour. And if the Pope did not approve, then it was a case of scandal and treason. In order to resolve this conflict Henry VIII declared himself Head of the Church of England. He made himself Pope so that he could grant himself approval. Was this a good idea ?

In the beginning, things went quite well. All the noble English Lords, who were normally so proud, bowed to his wishes and swore their oaths. And all the bishops too, except one. In the end only two men were to be found in the whole of England who refused to swear an oath of allegiance to Henry VIII and thereby approve his waywardness ; one was in secular society and the other in the Church. They were Bishop John Fisher and the Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas More who resigned.

Two men, two witnesses. Two witnesses too many. Henry wanted to maintain his spotless reputation while at the same taking Anne Boleyn illegitimately as his legitimate wife. He had these two witnesses put to death so that their voices should be heard no more ; voices that prevented him, the King and new Pope, from being recognised rightful by all.

After their deaths, he became absolutely legitimate by general and obligatory recognition. The petition was signed under oath by all. The silence of the objectors gave the king the assurance that he could define the Good. The resulting Good of women was soon evident ; Henry VIII-Blue Beard had eight wives who all enjoyed the title of legitimate Queen ; but few of them escaped execution. The Good ruled.

This story deserves to be brought out from the shadows in order to be compared with the attitude of certain people who imagine that by silencing the Vatican in the world meetings of the UNO they will be able to triumph, not relatively but absolutely. They think that their singleness of vision will ultimately be recognised as the Good. This petition in the name of so-called secularism is admittedly not new, and it naturally gets nowhere, in spite of the efforts of the initiator Mrs. Kissling and certain ultra feminist organisations. She is piously brought out of the cupboard whenever there is a new world conference or a session of the UNO like the one to be held 5 to 9 June next on the theme " Beijing +5 ", the estimate of steps taken, inspired by the Beijing Platform on Women.

Stifling the voice of the Vatican will no more serve the cause of Women than did the execution of Thomas More and John Fisher. Hundreds and thousands of Catholic organisations in Dioceses, Congregations, humble Communities and groups of Christian layfolk are fighting for the education of women, against violence, against the selling into prostitution of young girls in Nepal and other countries in Asia. They organise economic aid cooperatives for women in situations of extreme poverty with families to care for ; one could fill hundreds of pages with lists of all these works. What is more, some States take over these achievements as national contributions to report to UNO. It would be fairer to give the credit, if not to the Vatican, at least to those Christians who have worked in accordance with the principles promoted by the Vatican.

Please have pity on women, all you Feminists, all you Feminist extremists ! It’s not enough to " declare rights " ; you must truly grant them, put them into practice, dedicate yourselves to implementing the rights of others. Let the true witness speak, the one who suffers for the cause he or she is promoting and speaking for.


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