THE P RTAL May 2013 Page 9 The Ordinary’s Page Monsignor Andrew Burnham writes ‘Get with the Program’ Last Autumn, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, urged the Church of England to ‘get with the program’. It was a good sound-bite: he was urging people not only to ‘keep up’, rather than fall-behind, but also to understand how things are changing and developing, and so to fall into line. He was speaking of women bishops, which to everyone who does not take the trouble to look at the ecumenical, historical, and theological arguments is, as they say, a ‘no-brainer’, but he might equally have been talking about same-sex marriage, or children having more than one mum. Soon enough ‘getting with the program’ might well include routine abortion of a baby whose sex is inconvenient to the parents or a gentle exit by lethal injection for those for whom life has become burdensome. ‘live and let live’ children - can look at the crudest and most depraved pornography and at the vilest of violent images. As a recent radio broadcast has been discussing, all this amounts to the largest experiment we have ever known in the raising of children. What will society be like when everyone has been raised in this manner? This is a particularly challenging time for Christians because some indeed try to ‘get with the program’. They think that whatever well-meaning Western governments come up with is progress and that, as good citizens, they ought to try to accommodate it. They can cope with the idea that modern society gives an equal place to those of other religions and to unbelievers but cannot stomach the idea that what ‘Catholic Program’ society promotes might be hostile to Christianity. The Year of Faith for Catholics could be called ‘Get with the Program’, but it is a very different ‘program’ Other Christians are a little more critical of how that we are asked to ‘get with’. It is in some respects things are going but, as peaceable people, they try to a political ‘program’, the ‘program’ of the Kingdom of go along with much of what is happening. Same sex God. We have two guides. One is the Bible. marriage is a matter of ‘live and let live’, and so is the way, nowadays, unmarried couples raise children and The other is Tradition, the Teaching of the Church, families regroup as relationships come and go. condensed helpfully in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We need them both. The Bible describes the vilest of violent images complex matters in different societies over thousands Much of this seems to be about sex – and we know of years, as revealed to us by divine inspiration. Without how tricky that subject is. It can dominate and distort the Church’s Tradition, interpretations are nearly as things, make otherwise good people behave badly, many and various as the hundreds of thousands of temporarily cloud our judgment. The issues are not Protestant denominations and movements and sects just about sex, however. would suggest. Take the area of information technology. Some The ‘Catholic Program’ includes many unresolved countries severely limit access to the internet and in issues but, compared with others, it is good and clear. So, the West we shake our heads and talk about censorship. as this Year of Faith goes on, let us make sure that we ‘get Meanwhile, on our uncensored PCs, people – even with the program’, the ‘program’ of the Kingdom.