Every Sunday evening without fail, there is a religious programme on television. Sunday, May 1st, was no exception. The contributor to the programme was none other than his eminence, Archbishop Heenan of Liverpool, who had some interesting and outrageous statements to make on authority and tyranny, which were later reproduced in the Universe. Some of the characteristic evils of our time, he said, were “Defiance of Authority ” and “ Unofficial Strikes.” He forgot to mention, however, that authority invites defiance when it is oppressive. On the question of unofficial strikes, it should be made clear that workers take action by striking only when they feel that they have a legitimate grievance.
The Archbishop then entered the realm of sport. “You can’t even run a football match without authority. What would happen when a game got dirty if no one obeyed the referee?” Too true, Mr. Archbishop, but surely this is a very poor parallel? Capitalism is a dirty game in its entirety. Football, especially when it is not being played for money, is usually clean, but even so the workers do not make the rules under capitalism, neither do they pick the referee.
He then proceeded to say that “Some people think the Church is like a totalitarian state. Of course, there are bullies amongst the clergy, as there are in other groups, but on the whole, we are not tyrants." Well, well. It seems that some of the Delegates of God have been reading their texts instead of their newspapers. Talking of totalitarians and tyranny our minds go back to Mussolini and Franco. Did not the Church of Rome support the Christianising of those Abyssinian savages with dive bombers, and did they not also give support to Franco against the democratic government of Spain? Surely the Pope is a classic example of complete authority, for remember, the Roman Catholic Church argues that as the word of God on earth, the Pope can do or say no wrong.
But the Archbishop's field ranged far and wide. “It is not the Church but the law of God that forbids divorce and contraceptives." Seeing that both these things are products of modern society, one wonders when and where the directive came to oppose them. The writer well remembers the look of horror on the face of the local parish priest when he suggested that contraceptives would probably assist the health and economic position of a relative after she had produced her ninth child. “The Lord will provide” was his answer. But the Lord was meagre in his provision, for her husband was unemployed and they lived in two rooms in a Bermondsey slum.
Archbishop Heenan also had a prayer for the upholders of authority. "Have you any pity for those who exercise authority? It is so easy to think that the man at the top has done pretty well for himself. The night before an execution I pray for the Home Secretary as well as the criminal.”
Now this is the limit. The Archbishop presumably thinks that the problem of deciding is as acute as the problem of losing one's own life—and after all, the Home Secretary can always change his job. The Archbishop has also a lot to say about guidance, but of course he surely would not advise that the criminal go free, for that would be a blow to authority. In our view, he could have well spent his time considering the barbaric practice of capital punishment.
It seems that as all the other advertisers on ATV have to pay for time on the air, the Archbishop can congratulate himself on a free half-hour of advertisement. In this day and age it is tragic that leaders of the Church can put over this rubbish and unfortunately it will be accepted, by Catholics in particular, for blind acceptance of the teachings of the Catholic Church is its major rule. It is one of the most backward of all religions, one that breeds on ignorance and poverty. We ask all Catholic workers to seriously examine the contradictions and arguments of Roman Catholicism, and they, too, will see that they are irrational, and will set about achieving a sane and intelligent society. Tyranny will be a thing of the past and the mumbo jumbo of the Church service will be replaced by intelligent discussion of the real world where men will walk with pride and dignity and not in fear of the myth of Popery and repressive authority.