Thursday, September 16, 2010

David Cameron on the place of faith in British life

The Prime Minister writing in The Tablet:

Cardinal Newman was one of the greatest Englishmen, not just of his own times, but of any times. Like other courageous men and women of faith, he believed passionately that we should follow our consciences. Many, too many, have died for that same cause. In Britain, their numbers have included both Protestant and Catholic martyrs, such as Thomas More, whose trial took place in Westminster Hall, where the Pope will address representatives of civil society from across our country.

At the end of his historic visit to Britain this week, Pope Benedict XVI will beatify the cardinal during Mass in a Birmingham park where the cardinal used to take his recreation during his years as a simple parish priest in that great industrial city. It will be a moving climax to the first official visit ever made to Britain by a pope.

I use the word “historic” for this visit. That can often be an overworked cliché. But on this occasion it is wholly accurate. That is why television channels around the world will be covering every moment of the four days he spends with us.

As Britain’s Prime Minister, I welcome the fact that my predecessors first invited the Pope to visit this country and I am delighted that he accepted that invitation and the one he received from Her Majesty the Queen. He comes here as a head of state and leader of a Church with more than six million members in Britain and almost 1.2 billion around the world. Like other faith groups, the Catholic Church proclaims a message of peace and justice to the world and we work closely with it in the furtherance of these causes.

Despite the tough times through which we are battling, we have ring-fenced spending on overseas development. The alleviation of poverty is one of the greatest challenges facing the world. The grotesque condition in which too many live today, with disease and misery their constant companions, is a moral affront to all of us who live in comfort in rich countries.

The Catholic Church and its agencies are in the front lines of the fight against poverty throughout the world. We work with them – organisations like Cafod, Sciaf, Trocaire and Caritas – in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, Catholic agencies at local churches provide about a quarter of all primary education and health care, and an equally large part of the services for all those suffering from Aids.

The Holy See is a partner in pursuit of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which will be discussed at the UN Headquarters in New York again next week, at which the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, will represent this country. For our part, we are totally committed to meeting the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of our national income on aid by 2013. And we want to ensure that the money we spend goes to those who need it most. Sustainable economic development is closely linked to political stability and security. A world in which there is a yawning gap between the rich and the poor will be more dangerous and less secure for all of us.

We are also close partners of the global Catholic Church in the campaign against climate change. Once again, it is the poor who will suffer most if we do not act to moderate global warming. What is required is not just international agreement to abate carbon ­dioxide emissions, difficult as that is. We need to develop a new approach to economic growth, defining and pursuing it in ways that respect and preserve our natural environment.

The new British Government strongly believes in pushing decisions down to the local level, and in involving as many people and organisations as possible in working for and achieving the well-being of every community.

The great eighteenth-century Tory philosopher Edmund Burke called these parts of society the “little platoons”, and argued that responsibility should be spread among them. I call it the Big Society – where we’re all in it together, where everyone pulls together and works together; a more responsible society, where we all exercise our responsibilities to each other, to our families and to our communities. One where we don’t just ask, “What are my entitlements?”, but “What are my responsibilities?”

Catholic Social Teaching has made a similar case for more than a century, and Catholic organisations work alongside other faith groups in education and welfare to make our country more harmonious and caring. Of course, the state has a role itself in promoting individual well-being, but this work should dovetail with what others do, not subvert it.

There has been a lot of exaggerated comment that Pope Benedict will this week be visiting a largely secular country. I do not agree with this and there is much evidence in polls and the attendance at religious services to contradict it. But in any case, I believe such comment misses the point. The Pope’s visit should not just be welcomed by British Catholics or people of faith more broadly but by all who welcome what faith groups contribute to our society and who understand that, for many, faith is a gift to be cherished, not a problem to be overcome.

We may not always agree with the Holy See on every issue. But that should not prevent us from acknowledging that the Holy See’s broader message can help challenge us to ask searching questions about our society and how we treat ourselves and each other.

Cardinal Newman once said that one little deed, whether by someone who helps “to relieve the sick and needy” or someone who “forgives an enemy”… evinces more true faith than could be shown by “the most fluent religious conversation” or “the most intimate knowledge of Scripture”.

Cardinal Newman is greatly remembered in Birmingham for his care for its people. During a cholera outbreak in the city, he worked tirelessly among the poor and sick. And when he himself died, the poor of the city turned out in their thousands to line the streets. Inscribed on the pall of his coffin was his motto, “Heart speaks to heart”. Hardly surprisingly, it is the theme of this papal visit. I hope that it will be reflected in the warm welcome that Pope Benedict receives in Britain and in the sentiments that he leaves behind when he returns to Rome.

27 Comments:

Blogger Edward Spalton said...

But he is not really Britain's Prime Minister. He is the man the EU permits us to elect to do its will on us.

How the Pope must be laughing to himself over this.

16 September 2010 at 23:25  
Blogger OldSouth said...

Well-chosen words, and thanks for passing them along to us.

It is heartening to read words on the subject of religious faith from the pen of a public figure so devoid of recrimination or attempts to manipulate the emotions of the reader.

16 September 2010 at 23:30  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

I can't see that His Holiness would have visited if there had been a socialist government; with the likes of 'we don't do religion' Campbell in the background doing his wickedness. It is uplifting for people like me, pretty bad Catholics - not going to church as often as I know I should - to see our leader here in England and Scotland, helping us to sustain our knowledge that our beliefs are right and just. Our God is manifest through Jesus Christ. Not through anyone else; and certainly not through the satanist cult of mohamed.

16 September 2010 at 23:32  
Anonymous non mouse said...

[Irony Alert] ... "overworked cliché" - nothing redundant about that then. Or about chubby-chops the traitor.

How dare he stand up and talk to us at all, let alone patronise us with a final sentence like his. I hope lots of people have been savig up their old eggs and tomatoes and things.

17 September 2010 at 01:53  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Mature and sensible words. Very refreshing.

17 September 2010 at 06:18  
Anonymous len said...

" I call it the Big Society – where we’re all in it together"

Obviously not! The banking fraternity caused this financial crisis(aided by politicians) and the debt will be borne by those least able to bear it.

Meanwhile banker`s and others hand out themselves obscene bonus`s.

17 September 2010 at 08:25  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Mr Cameron states:

‘Like other courageous men and women of faith, he believed passionately that we should follow our consciences.’

Does that mean all the Christians who have been sacked for following their consciences will get their jobs back?

‘The new British Government strongly believes in pushing decisions down to the local level, and in involving as many people and organisations as possible in working for and achieving the well-being of every community.’

Does that mean that the Catholic adoption agencies the State has shut down will be reopened and the good people will get their jobs back?

The politicians are not listening to us.

We are not listening to them.

17 September 2010 at 08:27  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

Whenever you hear an employer or politician say "we are all in it together"watch out for we most assuredly are not,or rather we are in it up to our necks,while the millionaires watch us drown from the safety thier tax-payer funded towers,last year this same creature was exorting us to imbibe the culture and values of the east,beheading,stoning,genital mutilation,deception and fascism,this year we must all become good little catholics and embrace the anti-christ ,infallibility,pederasty/paedophilia,dogma and prostrate ourselves before its branch office the eussr,and do not forget to starve a pensioner near you, so that the african replicating virus can have a better death,and give whats left of your money to the ippc criminals so both us and our countrymen can exist in small mud huts to "save the planet"for the rich.

17 September 2010 at 08:49  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

Whenever you hear an employer or politician say "we are all in it together"watch out for we most assuredly are not,or rather we are in it up to our necks,while the millionaires watch us drown from the safety thier tax-payer funded towers,last year this same creature was exorting us to imbibe the culture and values of the east,beheading,stoning,genital mutilation,deception and fascism,this year we must all become good little catholics and embrace the anti-christ ,infallibility,pederasty/paedophilia,dogma and prostrate ourselves before its branch office the eussr,and do not forget to starve a pensioner near you, so that the african replicating virus can have a better death,and give whats left of your money to the ippc criminals so both us and our countrymen can exist in small mud huts to "save the planet"for the rich.

17 September 2010 at 08:49  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Oh dear, where does one start. Cranmer your faith along with others here blinds you to reality or at the very least allows you to avoid the “whole” truth. Catholic agencies do indeed provide valuable services to the poor and the sick but it is catholic doctrine that makes them poorer and sicker!

The use of contraception to reduce family size would be of immense benefit in most third world countries. It would reduce poverty and improve infant mortality as every extra mouth to feed puts an immense burden of families’ meagre resources. Surviving children would stand a far better chance of avoiding neglect and disease within smaller families.

The use of condoms reduces the transmission of HIV/Aids, that is a FACT. But as more become infected the Pope and his church wash their hands of any responsibility.

In the developed world most Catholics ignore the ban on contraception whereas the ignorant poor of the third world actually believe in the hell and damnation that awaits them if they contravene the church’s edicts.

It is the fact that the Pope is more concerned with protecting his heartless (I would say obscene) doctrine than to care for real people is what has brought out people like me to challenge the ridiculous notion that this man and his church have any moral authority.

Wake up, pull the scales from your eyes and see the Catholic Church for what it is; a self-serving, out of touch, immoral organisation. Those who belong to it should challenge these practices or leave it. That is the right and moral thing to do.

17 September 2010 at 08:55  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Our illustrious Chancellor, Gozzer the Great, certainly has faith. He thinks Britain wants to take an active part in Europe - by which he means the EU. He said so.

Since his boss bottled out of asking Britain if we wanted any such thing, how does he know? Did the archangel Saint Rumpi von Pumpi Rise up from upon low and whisper in his shell like?

17 September 2010 at 09:13  
Anonymous Flossie said...

Graham Davis, it is a FACT that condom use increases, not decreases, the spread of AIDS. Countries that are awash with condoms have the highest AIDS rates. Read the research.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/27/AR2009032702825.html

17 September 2010 at 09:49  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Flossie you obviously didn’t read the article!

I quote...

“Let me quickly add that condom promotion has worked in countries such as Thailand and Cambodia, where most HIV is transmitted through commercial sex and where it has been possible to enforce a 100 percent condom use policy in brothels but that's not what the research in Africa shows.

Why not?

One reason is "risk compensation." That is, when people think they're made safe by using condoms at least some of the time, they actually engage in riskier sex. Another factor is that people seldom use condoms in steady relationships because doing so would imply a lack of trust.

So it is not that condoms don’t protect, it’s that people don’t use them all the time!

The use of condoms reduces the transmission of HIV/Aids, that is a FACT! To try and bend the truth to fit your faith shows just how corrupting religious belief is.

17 September 2010 at 10:21  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

dissertation writing

You appear to be offering to sell dissertations online. If so that is a contemptible practice and looking at the quality of your writing, one to which you are obviously unsuited.

17 September 2010 at 11:10  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"...courageous men and women of faith" .... "other faiths"

I wish there could be a moratorium on the use of that word "faith".
As for the whole speech, I thought it was just politician's flannel.

17 September 2010 at 11:12  
Anonymous Flossie said...

No, Graham Davis, it is promiscuous sex that spreads AIDS, with or without condoms. If people behaved as Christianity teaches, saving sexual activity for marriage alone,there would be no AIDS.

17 September 2010 at 11:14  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Flossie

Ah so you concede the fact that condoms protect.

However you would rather countless hundreds of thousands of Aids infected babies should be born every year only to die a hideous death just because it suits your beliefs.

Perhaps whilst the practice of promiscuity exists in sub Saharan Africa it would be more moral to sanction the use of condoms whilst you are trying to persuade the populace to change their ways.

But I am guessing that your “principles” wont allow that.

17 September 2010 at 11:29  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Flossie, do you believe that AIDS is a punishment from your god?

17 September 2010 at 11:39  
Anonymous Flossie said...

Now, Graham Davis, you can drop that sarky tone. It is a plain fact that condoms - and any artificial birth control - encourage promiscuity, which leads to STIs. You don't have to look too far back in time to see that this is true.

Gnostic - actions have consequences. If one is going to be promiscuous, one can expect to catch something nasty. It's no use blaming God for it. He told you not to.

17 September 2010 at 11:56  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

So Flossie to sum up. You are willing to let the babies die in order to fulfil your impossible dream of a world without promiscuity. Your attitude is morally bankrupt.

17 September 2010 at 12:03  
Anonymous Flossie said...

It is you who is morally bankrupt, Graham Davis, if you think chastity is an impossible dream.

Funny how the promiscuous are the first to tear 'inconvenient' babies from their mothers' wombs. That is what I call baby-killing.

17 September 2010 at 12:59  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Flossie - Gnostic - actions have consequences. If one is going to be promiscuous, one can expect to catch something nasty. It's no use blaming God for it. He told you not to.

I lived with my husband for many years before we decided to tie the knot. I have never caught anything nastier than 'flu and neither has he. I don't blame your god for anything because I'm an agnostic. Pathogenic micro-organisms and viruses, on the other hand, are something else.

As for actions having consequences, denying people the use of condoms certainly proves that. Thanks for the lesson.

17 September 2010 at 13:33  
Anonymous PJ said...

Graham Davis said:

"The use of contraception to reduce family size would be of immense benefit in most third world countries".

Does he not realise that large families are actually very useful to families in developing countries, having more people to work on the farm for example. That tends to be the reason why they have such large families.
As a country develops the birth rate also decreases as a large family is needed less. This simple concept is presented in the Demographic Transition Model

17 September 2010 at 15:48  
Anonymous PJ said...

Graham Davis said:

"The use of contraception to reduce family size would be of immense benefit in most third world countries".

Does he not realise that large families are actually very useful to families in developing countries, having more people to work on the farm for example. That tends to be the reason why they have such large families.
As a country develops the birth rate also decreases as a large family is needed less. This simple concept is presented in the Demographic Transition Model

17 September 2010 at 15:48  
Anonymous CrUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Graham Davis:

You claim that "It is a fact" that use of condoms reduces the transmission of HIV/Aids.

This is NOT true. According to Dr. Edward C. Green (director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies)

“There is a consistent association shown by our best studies, including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates,”

Your misconception is contributing to the spread of HIV and many other venereal diseases.

17 September 2010 at 16:48  
Anonymous CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI said...

Graham Davis: I recommend you read the article Condom Roulette and the references therein before calling others "morally bankrupt."

17 September 2010 at 17:06  
Anonymous Philip said...

Good to see you back, YG.

Mr Cameron talks about 'easy' (‘easy’ in the sense of less likely to offend the metropolitan Lib-Left) subjects such as international aid, poverty, climate change, and waffles even about the UN, but nothing about the erosion of freedom of speech, conscience and religion for Christians to live and practice their faith when it comes to simple acts of compassion such as Christian nurses offering to pray for patients, Christians wanting to wear symbols of faith at work or school, or Christian adoption agencies wanting adhere to their ethos in placing needy children, freedom to preach the Bible in the street, or for pensioners to complain about their local authority promoting homosexuality.... the list goes on...see HG's excellent post Wednesday 11th. Why no mention of these serious erosion of freedoms? Can only because Mr Cameron supports Labour's 'equality' laws that lie behind much of this. e.g. he supported Labour's move against the RC adoption agencies, and in the run-up to the Gen Election said he wanted the CpfE to adopt full homosexual equality "bottom line" - regardless of centuries of Christian teaching on sexual behaviour. When it comes to choosing between the demands of the homosexual lobby and defending basic freedoms, we can see which way Mr Cameron too often chooses.

17 September 2010 at 19:09  

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