Responding to remarks by the Secretary of State of Scotland that encouraged openness to religion in public life, Cardinal Keith O’Brien welcomed the sentiment. However, he said the British Government has shown no evidence of openness but has instead has “taken no note whatsoever of the concerns of people of faith.”
The cardinal also accused the Government of conducting a “systematic and unrelenting attack on family values.”
Jim Murphy, the Scottish Secretary, delivered a speech at the House of Commons which advocated outreach to religious voters ahead of the general election. He told a think tank meeting that the Labour Party must accommodate the concerns of religious voters if the party is to win another term in power, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The BBC says he discussed the role of faith in U.S. politics and claimed that faith values have always been “at the very foundations of the Labour Party.”
Murphy, who is Catholic, said people of all faiths listen when Cardinal O’Brien speaks.
To this, Cardinal O’Brien on Tuesday responded that any recognition of the social role of faith and religion is “to be welcomed.”
“However, a tangible example by the Government over the last decade that it acknowledged or endorsed religious values would also have been welcomed. Instead we have witnessed this Government undertake a systematic and unrelenting attack on family values.”
The cardinal also said that he had personally voiced this charge to Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a 2008 meeting.
“I have seen no evidence since then to suggest anything has changed," the Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh continued.
He said the objections of the Church and other faiths were ignored in legislation to permit experimentation on and destruction of human embryos and also when civil partnerships and adoption by same-sex couples were permitted. The refusal to tackle the “soaring toll” of abortions also ignored religious concerns, he stated.
In a reference to the controversy over proposed restrictive provisions of the Equality Bill, his remarks concluded:
“Most recently in advancing legislation which would completely and permanently undermine religious freedom this Government has taken no note whatsoever of the concerns of people of faith.”