Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia launched his new book titled "God and Caesar" yesterday evening. The book contains various essays on the topics of bioethics, secularism, and the relation between faith and politics.
Cardinal Pell criticized the idea that religious concerns can be excluded from public debate because it is "not a native plant."
"The Australian idea of life in common is often generous and always capacious," he said. "A bit more religion here and there is something most will easily take in their stride, and probably nearly as many would be uneasy if religious voices were completely silent," he continued.
The cardinal particularly criticized the inconsistent way that religious involvement is welcomed in politics: "The separation of church and state is sometimes invoked as a principle when politicians or others disagree with what church leaders or agencies have said on social justice, government policy, or moral issues, but when they agree with church statements this principle is not mentioned."
Cardinal Pell mentioned that he foresees conflict between the church and state taking place on biotechnology issues and homosexual rights laws in the future.
The cardinal also underlined the necessity for continuing religious peace, endorsing outreach to Australia's local Muslim community. "One of the obvious tasks for the majority non-Muslim population in Australia is to establish and deepen friendship with the different Muslim communities now around us and to make them feel more at home, especially their young people," the cardinal said.
"The ideological struggle against Islamist violence in the Muslim community is one in which most of the heavy lifting has to be done by Muslims opposed to extremism, but we should be prepared to help them in this task in ways … which build trust and openness instead of fear and ghettoization."