Religious Liberty Goes Beyond Worship, says Prelate
LONDON, MARCH 29, 2007
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster signaled his concern about the kind of culture British society is producing as religion is pushed to the margins.
On the occasion of the 30th Thomas Corbishley Memorial Lecture on Wednesday at Westminster Cathedral Hall, the archbishop 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, the cardinal said in his address entitled “The Kingdom of God and this World: the Church in Public Life.”
The 74-year-old prelate 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 said. He emphasized 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,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor asserted. “True democracy offers a framework for a peaceful exchange of differences, because in the civilized interplay of opposed beliefs, truth and justice have a better chance of being discerned.
“A democracy is, essentially, an act of faith in human good will 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.’ “