The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, encouraged Christians this week “to recover their self-confidence and courage” in order to confront the growing problem of religious and secular intolerance in the West, as well as “to recover their genius for showing that there are better ways to live and to build a good society.”
The cardinal made his comments during a conference entitled, “Varieties of Intolerance: Religious and Secular,” which he gave in London to the Oxford University Newman Society. During his speech he indicated that the freedom of the Catholic Church in the West is under pressure from the new and dangerous tendency to use “anti-discrimination law and human rights claims” to attack the role of religion in public life as well as individual rights.
As an example, the cardinal cited the case of California, where Christians and Mormons supported Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. He noted how churches and temples were vandalized and how many who supported the proposition have been forced to quit their jobs and have been black-listed by homosexual activists.
“Christianophobic blacklisting and intimidation is passed over in silence,” the cardinal said. “In a democracy, believers and non-believers must be free to talk about these differences, to criticize each other's beliefs (what Catholics used to call apologetics), and to evangelize while always respecting the freedom of the individual. Reciprocity in this is essential: it is not a one way street. Some secularists seem to like one way streets.”
In a reference to Obama’s promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act if Congress passes it, which would legalize abortion and deny doctors the right to conscientious objection, the cardinal said it could cause “a culture war.” “Believers should not be treated by the government and the courts as a tolerated and divisive minority whose rights must always yield to the minority secular agenda, especially when religious people are overwhelmingly in the majority,” Cardinal Pell said.