Who is my neighbour?
Viviane Reding is the justice commissioner, vice-president of the EU executive and a force to be reckoned with. The BBC news report of her attack on France's policy in the forcible return of Roma people to their countries of origin leaves out the most ferocious part of her remarks. Referring to the deportations from France during the Nazi era, she talked about seeing something that she had not expected would ever be seen again after the Second World War. The relevant French ministers have responded strongly.
Viviane Reding's comparison is close to that made earlier in the affair by the Archbishop of Toulouse, speaking during his diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. Responding to the controversy that his remarks caused, Mgr Le Gall suggested that his real message was that Catholics should follow, in the case today of the Roma, the example of those who, in the time of the Nazi's, had shown hosptitality towards their Jewish neighbours.
This question is not just one for the French, as this report at Independent Catholic News shows. The site that is referred to here has been a particular focus for Catholic engagement on behalf of the traveller community over a number of years.
“The Irish Chaplaincy has worked on the Dale Farm traveller site in Essex for a number of years now. Dale Farm is the the biggest IrishTravellers community in Europe and we know that the 86 familes there are now under imminent threat of eviction. It will be the same bailiff company involved, and they see Hovefields evictions as a dry run for what is going to be the biggest eviction in British history. The Irish Chaplaincy is committed to calling for these evictions to stop”.
These are reported at Catholic Voices and by Tina Beattie. There is some interesting discussion in the comments on the latter report.
It is interesting to see the question of celibacy being put in the context of chastity in its wider sense, and I get the impression that this is something of which Tina Beattie is willing to recognise the value. An aspect that does not appear to have been reflected (correct me if my rapid reading of the reports has missed something) is the situation of celibacy or chastity as one of three evangelical counsels. If the form of the evangelical counsels is seen as a form of consent to vocation in the Church - and that is the witness of both religious life and, in the years leading up to and since Vatican II, the life of lay people in secular institutes and new movements - then one area of the debate on priestly celibacy is that of celibacy as part of the form of the structure of the consent that a priest gives to his vocation. That would, of course, raise the question of poverty as part of priestly life as well. As I have already commented, I do feel that the life of the Church at present offers a mixed message, with the ordination of married converts from the Church of England creating a de facto mixture of married and celibate clergy. This is something that Tina Beattie picks up. The debates have also led to a very useful witness of priests who value their celibacy and live it with joy.