“I’m one of nature’s Protestants. I should never have been brought up as a Catholic. I think that nowadays the Catholic Church is not an institution for respectable people.” —Hillary Mantel
I think she’s unwittingly come up with the best line possible for a new marketing campaign: “The Catholic church – not an institution for respectable people.” It reminds me of a priest a few years ago who told me that a young woman came to him who’d got pregnant and been thrown out by her parents. He told her story to one of his parishioners, saying he didn’t think the girl could cope on her own in a flat but wasn’t sure what to do to help. Simple, said the parishioner, she comes to live with me. And it makes me think of another priest I know who was trying to help some asylum seekers living in lousy accommodation, and in the end decided they might as well move in with him. Or the young kids living on the street, often with drug problems, who have been helped by charities such as The Passage and the Cardinal Hume Centre. None of these people are exactly respectable – with complicated, chaotic lives – but Catholics and their institutions have tried to do their bit and have welcomed them in.
And Rod Dreher:
I am not a Catholic, but I certainly hope to be thought of as a member of a church that inspires sneers and hatred by cultured despisers like Hilary Mantel and The Respectable People. Given the way of the world these days, if you are a Christian and aren’t in some way hated by The Respectable People, you are doing something wrong.
If everyone in a supposedly diverse culture thinks and acts the same way, it ain’t really all that diverse.