It was sad to hear just before Christmas, of the death of Denis Riches, a great campaigner for the family who, together with his wife, Valerie, founded Family Publications to publish and distribute good books.
Denis's campaigning work was conducted through Family and Youth Concern. The regular newsletter of FYC is always helpful with well-documented articles that can be quoted with references in response to the moral challenges that our secular society presents.
Some months ago, I referred briefly to the joint biography of Denis and his wife, Valerie (Women, Cardinals, supporting the family). Looking through this again, I am struck by the vehemence of the reaction to the "Responsible Society" which was shortly renamed "Family and Youth Concern". Denis tells of how speakers were pelted with eggs, he was described as a "third rate drag artist" (which he found amusing) and family campaigners were labelled "cranks and killjoys". As he said "there are none so illiberal as liberals in power".
I remember the publication of the excellent pamphlet "Sex and Social Engineering" and agree with Denis's judgement that this was a landmark. Solidly researched, it marked the beginning of the fight back against secularist moral degradation which continues to our day. The joint biography, as well as being a charming story of two people who continued to love and cherish one another in Christian marriage, documents some of the most important developments in Britain's moral decline - and the efforts of those who opposed it.
I count it a privilege to have known Denis Riches. He was a perfect gentleman. By this, I do not mean simply that he had good manners. He retained those moral values which are the bedrock of a solid Christian society. As a gentleman, he was willing to fight for those values in the public square despite being vilified, ridiculed and threatened. He understood that when faced with evil, one must exercise Christian charity in the proclamation of the truth. His life's work was a practical living-put of the preaching of Pope Benedict that justice and tolerance cannot be achieved except by proclaiming and living the truth "in season and out of season". During his life, the truth of Christian family values was "out of season" but he never wavered in upholding that truth manfully, whatever the cost.
May he rest in peace and receive the reward of his labours.