It is one of the ironies of history that shortly after he was awarded the title Fidei Defensor by the Pope, Henry Vlll broke with Rome... It was something to do with an attack on the integrity of marriage.
The true Fidei Defensor then was perhaps St John Fisher, the only member of the hierarchy who stood up to this abuse of power, and paid for it with his life (there were many others, of course, but none among the hierarchy).
Fast forward a few hundred years and we see a new abuse of power; Henry's successor has distanced himself from the F.D. title by declaring he will instead be a defender of faiths, the government is launching the most comprehensive attack on the integrity of marriage, and the hierarchy...
Doubtless, they are ruminating on their strategy. Perhaps they are wondering how to respond without compromising their ability to wield some political power and mitigate the worst excesses of the destruction of marriage. Who knows? Perhaps St John Fisher's colleagues had similar deliberations. Who knows?
There is one bishop, +Philip Egan of Portsmouth, who may not have a strategy but has a conscience. He knows that his duty is to preach the Kingdom in season or out. His now is the title Fidei Defensor.
++Nichols remarked a while back: 'Who knows what's down the road?'
I may be less educated, less holy and less most other things than him, but I can tell him what I learned from my parents, and they from a more robust teaching of the Faith than we get nowadays: death, judgement, heaven or hell.
St John Fisher, pray for us.
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