Edmund Adamus said our society was hedonistic, anti-life and anti-family – all true. So why was he slapped down?

John Paul II, at Bellahouston Park, near Glasgow, in 1982, coined the phrase 'culture of death' (Photo: PA)

Earlier this week, Edmund Adamus, pastoral affairs director of the archdiocese of Westminster, gave an interview to the Catholic news agency Zenit, in which he made remarks – attacked by the Guardian – which a spokesman for his archbishop then said “did not reflect” his views. I was wondering what these heinous remarks might be, so I went to the interview itself.

Might they, I wondered be these? “On the whole I think many people, especially Catholics…  anticipate the papal visit with hope and expectation that his presence and words will be a ‘kindly light’ (to borrow Cardinal Newman’s words) in a time of shadows especially threatening to the fundamental cell of society – the family – and the rights of parents.” Was that it? Surely the archdiocese of Westminster is in favour of the family? And does it deny that the family based on two parents of opposite genders – the family, that is, as the Church defines it – is under threat?

Well, it can’t be any of that, surely, from which the archdiocese is distancing itself. No: on closer examination, it’s probably a passage in which Adamus spells out what the threats to all that actually consist of, and in which he also repeats various other familiar positions of the Church, sometimes using the actual words of the present Pope and his predecessor: “Britain… has been and is the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death [absolutely true: we have the highest abortion rate in Europe, and the “culture of death” was what Pope John Paul called it].

“Our laws and lawmakers for over 50 years or more,” continues Adamus, “have been the most permissively anti-life and progressively anti-family and marriage [all true], in essence one of the most anti-Catholic landscapes culturally speaking than even those places where Catholics suffer open persecution.” He also said that Catholics should  “exhibit countercultural signals against the selfish, hedonistic wasteland that is the objectification of women for sexual gratification” and that “Britain in particular, with its ever-increasing commercialisation of sex, not to mention its permissive laws advancing the ‘gay’ agenda [in other words, the laws that have forced the closure of Catholic adoption agencies], is such a wasteland”.

Strong words, certainly. But what precisely is it from which we are supposed to distance ourselves? The Catholic writer Paul Vallely, in the Independent, calls all this an “incitement to cultural war”. But the war is already raging, or hadn’t he noticed? Vallely says Adamus should ”get out more”. I think that it’s Paul Vallely who is cut off from reality.