A student has been expelled from the Young Conservatives for dressing up (at some party or other) as Madelene McCann and then boasting about it on the web, describing his costume and props. Other young conservatives seem to have gone along with his tasteless behaviour.
When I read or hear about this sort of thing I ask myself what is happening to people. Why are some people apparently so insensitive and even deliberately cruel these days? I know, of course, that some people have been like this in the past. However, some of the things people do to each other now - and I am talking about apparently ordinary, well-educated, apparently sensible people - belong in the darkest corners of the Middle Ages. I must admit the same question entered my head regarding the famous Jonathon Ross/Russell Brand idiocy when they rang Andrew Sachs. Of course, we then found out that the grandaughter possibly did sleep with Brand. She belongs to a rock band which trades on the explicit promotion of sex (not a new thing I know, but this is not your average band!).
As a priest I have sensed a change even in Mass-going Catholics. Sometimes I hear the most appalling condemnations of others coming out of their mouths and criticisms that - for my ears perhaps - stop short of bad language. I am not talking about someone condemning someone like Adolf Hitler, but another parishioner who "says this" or "does that" or, even worse, is "that kind of person". Fortunately I have to say this is not a big problem in my present parish, but it certainly was in the last place.
I wonder, though, at how a student -presumably with more than half a brain - could have thought that that kind of activity - even in private - was acceptable. He apologises now because he has been exposed. Presumably he does not believe in God and therefore does not know that even his thoughts are known. Ultimately this is the answer isn't it - lack of faith, even for our fellow Christians who "slag" each other off and then go to Holy Communion without any regrets?
It isn't just lack of faith, it's the quality of our faith, and then there is the related issue of how much we value or de-value human life and hence the beliefs, sufferings, feelings of other people.