Cardinal Cormac appeals for freedom of religion in Britain

 In a speech on Wednesday, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, asked what kind of culture British society is creating where religion is pushed to the margins. In his Corbishley lecture at Westminster Cathedral Hall, the Cardinal said there was a need for reasoned debate on the issue so that society could forge a meeting place for all. A public space that is genuinely plural requires the presence of religion, he said. The Cardinal spoke of religious freedom as being more than the freedom to worship; "it is the freedom to serve the common good according to the convictions of our faith". He emphasised this point not just for Catholic belief, but for the sake of democracy and British culture as a whole. "The freedom to put religion into practice is vital to the health of British democracy. True democracy offers a framework for a peaceful exchange of differences, because in the civilised interplay of opposed beliefs, truth and justice have a better chance of being discerned. A democracy is, essentially, an act of faith in human goodwill and reason. The faith that what we have in common is greater than what divides us, and therefore in the public sphere we must always seek to include rather than exclude what we disagree with. As a lawyer wittily concluded, we should not show "liberal tolerance only to tolerant liberals," he said. "If modern Britain faces a challenge today, it is to recover the language and the spirit of the age of democracy, to forge a meeting place for all citizens. The public sphere is the forum of collective reasoning, and it cannot be a space empty of tradition and particular belief. A tolerant society is not one without constitutive beliefs, since its tolerance flows from a very constitutive belief. There is an ethical hunger in our society and it would be tragic if religious convictions did not have a voice in meeting that hunger." Source: CCN

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