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Saturday, 7 March 2009

Cardinal Pell's lecture at Oxford

The Oxford University Newman Society has set up the "Thomas More Lectures" on Religion in the Public Square. The inaugural lecture was given by Cardinal George Pell yesterday on "Varieties of intolerance: Religious and secular." [UPDATE - the lecture has now also been posted in simple html.]

The lecture was given in the Divinity School of the Bodleian Library which was built in the early 15th century as a venue for theology lectures and disputations in Oxford University.

Cardinal Pell examined the various ways in which secularlist legislation encroaches on the freedom of religion, drawing attention to the way in which some of the most permissive groups become repressive, despite all their rhetoric about diversity and tolerance. As a result, opposition to same-sex marriage is branded homophobic whereas christianophobic blacklisting and intimidation is passed over in silence.

Concerning the Church's charitable work, the Cardinal said:
The services the church gives has always been a source of its growth and strength, and church agencies working in the areas of welfare, family, education, health and aged care bear witness to the values that christian leaders put forward in public debate. Part of the logic in attacking the freedom of the church to serve other is to undermine the witness these services give to powerful Christian convictions. The goal is to neutralise this witness to the reality of Christian revelation. There is no need to drive the church out of services if the secularlisation of its agencies can achieve this end.
Catholic bloggers who regularly draw attention to the intolerance to which christians are subjected might be encouraged in their work by the Cardinal's closing words:
Put simply, Christians have to recover their genius for showing that there are better ways to live and to build a good society; ways which respect freedom, empower individuals, and transform communities. They also have to recover their self-confidence and courage. The secular and religious intolerance of our day needs to be confronted regularly and publicly. Believers need to call the bluff of what is, even in most parts of Europe, a small minority with disproportionate influence in the media. This is one of the crucial tasks for Christians in the twenty-first century.
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