Without the influence of Christianity promoting compassion and solidarity, civilisation would revert to the “war of all against all” predicted by the 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, declares The Tablet in its editorial this week. Human life would become “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.
Through contemplating the figure of a man tortured and broken on a cross, Christians realised that all human life, however wretched, has infinite value.
“Never before has its central teaching been so threatened and so needed: every human life, no matter how vulnerable or impaired, is sacred; every life is to be protected and celebrated. The Church must resist to the bitter end the throwaway culture, the tendency to reduce life to the status of a disposable commodity,” says The Tablet.
The editorial argues that, as lockdown draws to an end and attendance at Sunday Mass becomes possible again, all Catholics now need to follow the path trodden by converts down the ages, of asking themselves: “What is the point of being Catholic? Why go to Mass? Why be part of this whole thing, which bears such obvious marks of sin and disgrace on its own body.”
The editor, Brendan Walsh, quotes three Biblical texts that demonstrates how Christ turned the contemporary world's system of values on its head: “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”; “The last will be first ...”; and “He has pulled the mighty down from their thrones ...”
The Christian faith elevates "these disturbing and disruptive words" above all others, he writes, by calling them the Word of God. "There is nothing more powerful on Earth than this." Without the Church, however, who would have heard of them?
Before it can evangelise the world, the Church needs to recall these essentials of the faith in order to evangelise itself. The editorial, he writes, is intended as a restatement of The Tablet's core values on the occasion of the 180th anniversary of its founding.
Especially in a world afflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Church needs outstanding leaders, locally and nationally as much as internationally. " The Tablet, now in its 181st year, renews its commitment to serve the Church in its pursuit of truth and justice, even when, on occasion, its voice may be an unwelcome one."