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Welcome to the Velvet Tyranny

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In its issue of July 19-25, The Slovak Spectator (TSP) reported that a Swedish Protestant minister, Ake Green, has been sentenced "to one month in jail for offending homosexuals." The TSP notes that "According to the global news service Ecumenical News International (ENI), Green described homosexuality as ‘abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society’."

The jail sentence "prompted protests by Slovakia's ruling Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), and one of the party’s officials even took his personal protest to the Swedish ambassador in Slovakia, Cecilia Julin, on July 13." Slovakia’s Interior Minister, Vladimir Palko, declared that the jailing of Green shows how ‘a left wing liberal ideology was trying to introduce tyranny and misuse the EU (European Union) for this purpose". Palko added that "In Europe people are starting to be jailed for saying what they think." As if we couldn’t see this coming.

And what did Slovakia’s ultra-liberal Catholic hierarchy have to say about this development? Put on your surprise face: they waffled to the point of practically endorsing the jail sentence. TSP notes that "According to Marián Gavenda, spokesman of the Slovak Conference of Bishops (KBS), ‘if a priest directly offends a person, laws apply to him just like to any other person.’" But, he added, "we would be unhappy if, on the other hand, a civilian authority disabled the Church from calling things the right names. We would consider that discrimination."

Oh, so you would be unhappy, would you, if the Church were "disabled" from calling things the right names? You would "consider" that to be "discrimination." Ooh, how awful. But you would not be bothered if a priest "directly offends a person", in which case the priest should be sent to jail? Talk about putting a noose around your own neck. This poor confused liberal is so torn between "freedom of speech" and political correctness that he is practically committing suicide by endorsing the view that Catholic clerics should be arrested and imprisoned if they "directly offend" anybody. But what is the Gospel itself, sir, if not an offense to a world that will not hear it?

But Gavenda actually said something intelligent when he added: "It is true that in a social atmosphere created by the media as well as in the trends of the European legislation, a misuse of antidiscrimination laws can be observed in a sense that topics tabooed by liberal groups cannot be freely touched upon. In this sense it can be seen as a ‘velvet tyranny’."

Welcome to the velvet tyranny  —  the end product of the modern world’s embrace of false notions of liberty, notions embraced even by post-conciliar Churchmen such as Gavenda. This is what the EU, which the Pope inexplicably endorses as a great move forward for Europe, has in store for its citizens.

As Pope Leo XIII warned us so presciently, "If unbridled license of speech and of writing be granted to all, nothing will remain sacred and inviolate … [T]ruth being gradually obscured by darkness, pernicious and manifold error, as too often happens, will easily prevail." As this column has noted more than once, the modern notion of "freedom of speech" really means, in the end, freedom of error and persecution of the truth. Perhaps, with developments like these, even a thoroughly liberalized Catholic hierarchy will begin to see the wisdom of Pope Leo’s teaching.