Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor: ‘religious belief is viewed as a private eccentricity’
In the UK, Christianity is viewed as a ‘private eccentricity’, but it is quite cool to be Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Bahá’í or Buddhist. When the Cardinal asserts that Britain has become an ‘unfriendly’ place for ‘religious people’ to live, he seemingly ignores that the this unfriendliness is expressed principally towards Christians, frequently by this present government, invariably by the BBC, and it is manifest much more toward Protestant Christians than to their Roman Catholic cousins. So much so that the very word ‘Protestant’ has become synonymous with bigotry while ‘Catholic’ at least retains an air of respectability.
While Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor is right to observe ‘the rise of secularism’, it is bizarre to state, as he does, that this ‘has led to a liberal society’. Liberal it is not. Hostile to Christian morals and values it most certainly is, and keen to marginalise the voice of Christian groups most definitely. But it is a strange liberalism which manifests intolerance toward a single faith and seeks to render any expression of it such a jarring dissonance that ‘private eccentricity’ is not the half of it.
There are indeed ‘serious tensions’ between Christians and ‘secularist society’, but such tensions have existed between the church and the world since Pentecost. True Christians have endured persecution since the time of Christ, and the observation that atheists are becoming more ‘vocal and aggressive’ is a natural consequence of the postmodern obsession with giving every diverse group and sub-group a pulpit of ‘equality’ from which they may spout their creed.
But the Cardinal’s comments, of course, have nothing to do with his book ‘Faith in the Nation’, which was published on Monday. God forbid that he might be engaged in anything so base as granting interviews with the media in order to boost his sales in order to supplement his imminently-required pension.
Yet it is a curious tome if, as reported, he argues that immigrants ‘have a duty to adjust to British life’, but then he expresses concern that they are ‘faced with a culture that is increasingly repressive and intolerant’.
Just how does one ‘encourage’ immigrants to ‘adjust to British life’ if one is not prepared to express intolerance of what is foreign or repress what is alien?
Curiously, the Cardinal’s book has received the support of the Prime Minister, which is strange, because he and his predecessor have done more to relegate Christianity to the realms of ‘private eccentricity’ than any government in centuries. And one wonders why the Cardinal sought ‘the backing’ of the Prime Minister for this book on multiculturalism, when Mr Brown’s rejection of it would have made it a far more credible witness. What fellowship hath light with darkness? Unless the darkness comprehends it not. Which is quite likely.
The Cardinal says that the ‘unfriendly climate for people of all faiths’ has united the country's three major faiths - Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Cranmer must have missed something.
He further claims that Catholicism has borne the brunt of ‘liberal hostility’ in its battles to fight for values it considers to be ‘fundamental pillars of a rightly ordered society’.
There are some who might assert that the Roman Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have brought this upon themselves, not least because they have been content to sup from the cup of liberalism themselves, which, while it may not equate with supping with the Devil, is, for their more ‘robust’ brethren, but a hair’s breadth from turning Protestant. Just what do the faithful do when the Pope speaks and is ignored by his English bishops? Is obedience due first to one’s bishop or Pope? To whom do the faithful owe their primary allegiance?
Cranmer is with the Cardinal in his concerns for the present government’s amoral and fundamentally anti-Christian agenda. And it is Rome which has articulated incisively and consistently against abortion and homosexuality, and in defence of faith schools and in support for marriage. It is Rome which confronted the controversial Embryology and Fertilisation Bill which permits the production of ‘saviour siblings’ and babies to be born without fathers.
There is indeed a current dislike of absolutes in any area of human activity, including morality, and one wonders, therefore, why the Cardinal manifests this dislike himself, especially towards His Holiness. The Cardinal observes that ‘the intolerance of liberal sceptics can be as repressive as the intolerance of religious believers’, but he appears oblivious to the damage caused by the tolerance of the liberalism of religious believers. Catholics are certainly not alone in watching with dismay as the liberal society shows signs of degenerating into the libertine society, but when one is a Catholic libertine it is difficult to be taken seriously by those with whom you wish to share this dismay.
Curiously, the Cardinal blames ‘the culture of individual rights’ which have been ‘encouraged by the Human Rights Act’, yet he is oblivious the elephant in the room which spawned the agenda. It is a curious cardinal indeed who berates his Holy Father for not being sufficiently pro-EU, yet seeks to blame the EU’s Charter of Human Rights for all of society’s present ills.
In his book, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor says that the need for defining limits of tolerance is particularly clear in the debate over multiculturalism.
Perhaps he would be kind enough to expound precisely at which point this intolerance should be manifest, and what form it ought to take.
And then perhaps he might consider how the imposition of his intolerant views upon those who are fundamentally antithetical to everything Roman Catholic might be a cause of concern to the heretic, to the separated brethren, or to those who have not yet seen the light of his ‘private eccentricity’.