Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 71(4) November 2021

On the Long March Through the Institutions: silencing our faith and free speech.

Dr Pravin Thevathasan

AuthorIn his excellent book, "X-Ray of the Priest in a Field Hospital" (Arouca Press), Father Armand DeMalleray observes that priests are under an obligation to bear witness to Jesus Christ to the point of martyrdom if need be. Karl Leisner was one such priest. And of course this calling is not limited to priests. We can think of the likes of Sophie Scholl, Franz Jagerstatter and so many other martyrs of the Twentieth Century. Thank­fully, few Christians are actually martyred now but many are persecuted. One such was the great Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, who will shortly be beatified.

Persecutions and martyrdoms of Christians continue to take place in some parts of Africa and Asia. Persecution is perhaps more subtle in the West. But intolerance of fully believing Christians is becoming more and more apparent.

According to Catholic News Agency (27 August, 2021), a Catholic priest was refused the role of Chaplain at the University of Nottingham. The University was concerned about the manner in which he had expressed his pro-life views, posted on social media. Specifically, he had referred to the proposed Assisted Dying Bill as a bill that would allow the NHS to "kill the vulnerable." He was told by the University that he should have used less descriptive words like "end of life care"! A copy of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four would be a useful addition to the library at the University.

The University also objected to the priest describing abortion as the "slaughter of babies." Doubtless, "termination of pregnancy" or "removal of the products of conception" are the words of choice.

That’s another word that goes down well in such institutions: choice. We are not called to be pro-choice, at least not in these instances. We are called to be pro-truth. And we need to use words that reflect the truth about abortion and euthanasia.

We are not called to judge the individuals opposed to us, but we have every right to judge the action. We have the right to do so in a free country.

The University authorities have contacted the bishop to ask him to provide an alternative priest. One wonders if they would prefer one with an alternative faith.

We are pleased to hear that the university has recently changed its decision and accepted the chaplain following a constructive meeting with the diocese. Organisations promoting freedom of speech were also involved.