How prophetic were Fulton Sheen’s words 80 years ago

By Francis Phillips, Catholic Herald

Christians must go to the cross for the truth

Having recently blogged about the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen, I note an American blogger, Little Catholic Bubble, is reading his “Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues” as a Lenten exercise. Reading one of the excerpts pulled me up short. The book was published as long ago as 1933 but it could be describing with uncanny accuracy the situation today. Sheen wrote, “We are at the end of a tradition and a civilization which believed we could preserve Christianity without Christ, religion without a creed, meditation without sacrifice, family life without moral responsibility, sex without purity and economics without ethics. We have completed our experiment of living without God…”
How prescient he was, though I am surprised that even in 1933, when Christian traditions and values in society and in family life still seemed to be stable and intact, he could see the writing on the wall. I think even Sheen would have been staggered at the speed at which his prophesy has been realised: changes in the definition and meaning of marriage; routine and widespread abortion; increasing pressure to legalise euthanasia – these are only some of the more obvious features of modern life taken for granted in the western world.
[…]  I sometimes think we inside the Church can get so worked up about “issues” – the informal “style” adopted by Pope Francis, whether one form of the liturgy is “better” than another and so on – that we lose sight of the one thing needful, pointed out by Bishop Bossuet. As I write this, the words of Bishop Egan of Portsmouth, who I blogged about last week, echo in my ears: “We will, being Christian, have to suffer and have to go to the Cross… because you have to witness to the truth.”

A brave Catholic blogger, Caroline Farrow of Catholic Voices, also discovered this when she spoke up from the floor in a recent BBC Question Time debate. The Catholic Herald this week relates her experience with the headline, “Blogger “spat at” after debating same-sex marriage on television.” Having watched a Youtube clip of this event, the hostility directed at Caroline is palpable.

Christians who put their head above the parapet and stand up for what they believe will increasingly discover to their cost what it is like to live in the kind of world that Fulton Sheen foretold so prophetically.
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