From today`s Times.
Senior Catholic says Britain is heading for moral danger
Ruth Gledhill, Helen Rumbelow and Alice Miles
Britain is becoming “aggressively antireligious”, according to a senior Roman Catholic Archbishop. The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, said that acts of terrorism such as the July 7 bombings had “shaken people’s perception” of the presence of all faiths in the UK.
In an interview with The Times, he also accused the Government of neglecting “moral values” that should form the bedrock of society.
The Archbishop, who campaigned against the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which legislated for equal rights for gay couples when seeking to adopt children, said he believed that gay people were born, not made. His understanding of sexual orientation was that a person “doesn’t have a choice”.
One of the most influential Catholic leaders in the West, he has been at the fore of his Church’s political campaigns on education and asylum-seekers as well as on equality law.
He is among the favourites to succeed the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who will be 75 in August and will offer his resignation to the Pope this summer.
Anglican and Catholic leaders are concerned at the march of the secular agenda in the West. Archbishop Nichols said: “There is a version of secularism going around which is antireligious, which wants to banish religion from [the political] public forum.” He called this “shortsighted and troublesome” and said that it was mistaken because a properly understood religious faith was a “bedrock for good humanity”.
He said that acts of terrorism had shaken people’s perception of faith in Britain. “I mean sometimes the anxieties that are expressed around faith schools are actually to do with Islamic schools. And when you press a politician they say, well, of course we don’t mean Catholic schools and we don’t mean Church of England schools.
“Then there are others who relish this opportunity to say, with aggression, religious faith is a corruption of human nature, and we’d be better off without it.”
The Archbishop said that Islamic schools must integrate into the state system because “that’s how a community learns to integrate”. He added: “The deep roots of our contemporary secular culture lie in Christianity. And, therefore, there is in Christianity an instinctive understanding about the notion of the rights of the human person.”
Echoing Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, when he voiced fears that the democratic process in Britain was under threat, Archbishop Nichols said: “There is now a clear understanding that politically democracy is the best way of organising the use of power in this society.
“There is, devolved from Christianity, a notion of justice and courts, of the police and supervision of society, of hospitals and of education.”
Asked whether Islam was threatening the roots of society, he said: “I think it remains to be seen.”