Sunday, May 17, 2009

For Shame !

I am indebted to Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest of the RC Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen, UK, for showing this video clip on his blog, which is how I found out about the situation.
The commentary below the clip is my own.

I wept to see an 80 year old priest, Fr Norman Weslin, clearly stating his pro-life beliefs and being arrested and removed from the Campus of Notre Dame RC College for protesting against the ideologies espoused by the President and upholding the pro-life teachings of the RC Church in which he was ordained and which he serves.

Whatever happened to free speech in America ? We know that freedom of speech effectively ceased to exist in the UK several years ago, but I am appalled to see that America is falling into the same trap.

Lord have mercy......and richly bless Fr Norman and all who try to protect the unborn through prayer and peaceful protest.
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magda said...

Well, as to "free speech in America," Notre Dame is a private university...

I'm not sure that those were actual police, either, but rather campus security...

Bleh. This is another reason not to give money to my alma mater.

Meg said...

Doesn't surprise me in the least. As soon as they came up with "hate speech" penalties, I could see freedom of speech going the way of the dodo. Yes, it's one of our most cherished and protected freedoms, but it appears that it's limited to those on the correct side of the political spectrum.

Fr. John McCuen said...

I agree that it is extremely unpleasant to see a man who is both 80 years old, and a priest in the Roman Catholic Church being arrested and carried off, as the video shows.

However, in fairness to the University, the protesters were allowed to protest as long as they remained on public property (where, presumably, they either had a permit, or were allowed to otherwise be present); but had been warned that, if they entered the University grounds -- private property, after all -- they would not be allowed to protest, and would be arrested. Those who entered the grounds to protest did son knowingly and willingly; and so can hardly complain when their actions were met as they had been warned.

On one level, it would seem obvious that those who were arrested got what they wanted: lots and lots of media coverage, to say nothing of all the attention in the blogosphere! They probably wouldn't have gained such notoriety had they remained outside the grounds with their signs and their chants -- and little to interest the media.

The protesters were right to object to the decision by a Roman Catholic institution of higher learning to invite a speaker -- albeit the President of the United States -- whose views are contrary to the teaching of the RCC. They were right to raise their objections to abortion. But when they crossed the line between where their protest was allowed and where it was forbidden, they crossed the line where their own actions were called into question.

It's not a matter of their right to speak freely being threatened. Nor was this, in my opinion, a situation in which the "greater good" required them to break the law and enter a place where their actions might have been disruptive. Would we be having this conversation if the President in question was George W. Bush, and the protesters were pro-abortionists who criticized his policy. I think not.

elizabeth said...

Lord have mercy.

Michael said...

Thank you for posting this, Elizabeth.

My thoughts keep shifting. I read through all of your post before I watched the video, and my first thought was that we have never really had free speech in Britain. It has always been balanced by other factors, and I think that the balance is important. That said, I agree that things have taken a dangerous shift in recent years and that balance has been disturbed.

Then I watched the first couple of minutes of the video and stopped because I couldn't bear to watch further. I felt upset and angry at the same time. I havenow watched to the end and, while I am grateful for Father John's balanced response, I still feel sick that a Christian institution would have a priest arrested for professing the faith to which that institution claims to belong. So he was on their property. Ok. That explains the legal standing but it still leaves confusion when I try to think of why or how Christians could do such a thing.

I'm grateful that God is a good God and the Lover of mankind because I'm really struggling to even think charitably of them at the moment.

May the All-Holy Trinity have mercy upon them.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

The comedian Yakov Smirnov had a joke about it, during the Breznev years.. He said:

"You Americans are so pourd to have free speech. Well, we Russians have freedom of speech, too. An American told me the other day, "I can go into the office of the President of the United States and bang my fist on his desk and say, 'I disagree with your policies!' So I told him, 'So what? I can do same thing. I can go into Brezhnev's office, pound my fist on his desk, and tell him I disagree with his policies.' Of course, you Americans are also free AFTER you speak, which is a nice feature..."

Freedom in America has mostly disappeared, witness Guantanamo. At one time, under Bush, the federal government could declare you an "illegal combatant" and there was no way to protest that, because that declaration immediately stripped you of ALL rights, including access to an attorney and to the courts. You could be 90 years old, dying from some dread disease, and never have been closer to combat than within a ten-mile radius from Springfield, Illinois, and still be declared an enemy combatant, and then you could LEGALLY just disappear in the middle of some night, without your family ever being told anything at all.

I THINK that has been repealed now, but I'm not sure!

Freedom? It's little more than an illusion right now.

Except, of course, that freedoms and rights are not something governments grant. They are, as our Declaration of Independence says, inalienable, built into our personhood, because we are created in the image of God.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

What do you Brits mean when you say you don't have free speech there???

Please explain!

Anonymous said...

True yanks (like myself) are just biding the time, anticipating for the purging fire, waiting for our chance....