.- In his first major response to the passage of a new “anti-discrimination” law in the United Kingdom, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said he feared the Labour Party has turned to "legislating for intolerance" in a speech on Wednesday.
The Cardinal was referring to the recently approved Sexual Orientation Regulations during Thirtieth Thomas Corbishley Memorial Lecture, which he delivered on “The Kingdom of God and this World: the Church in Public Life” at Westminster Cathedral.
The government is imposing the recently approved Sexual Orientation Regulations on all public agencies and businesses, including those run by church groups. The new regulations, which become effective next month, require church-based adoption agencies to place children with homosexual couples. No exemptions have been given to faith-based groups.
"My fear is that, under the guise of legislating for what is said to be tolerance, we are legislating for intolerance. Once this begins, it is hard to see where it ends,” the Cardinal stated.
"The question," the Cardinal added, "is whether the threads holding together pluralist democracy have begun to unravel. That is why I have sounded this note of alarm.”
The Cardinal has warned that he may have to close nine Catholic adoption agencies if they are not exempted from the regulations.
"For my own part, I have no difficulty in being a proud British Catholic citizen. But now it seems to me we are being asked to accept a different version of our democracy, one in which diversity and equality are held to be at odds with religion,” he stated.
"We Catholics - and here I am sure I speak too for other Christians and all people of faith - do not demand special privileges, but we do demand our rights,” he continued. “We come not to impose, but to serve, according to our beliefs; and to be given the freedom and support to do so, as long as these do not undermine the rights and freedoms of others.
"I begin to wonder whether Britain will continue to be a place which protects and welcomes the works of people shaped and inspired by the church."
The Cardinal said he fears intolerance of Christianity. "So when Christians stand by their beliefs, they are intolerant dogmatists. When they sin, they are hypocrites,” he said. "When they take the side of the poor, they are soft-headed liberals. When they seek to defend the family, they are right-wing reactionaries."
He added: "What looks like liberality is in reality a radical exclusion of religion from the public sphere."
“Speaking as a Catholic Christian, as a bishop and a citizen of our great British democracy,” said the Cardinal, “I want to appeal for the freedom to believe and the freedom to serve the common good according to the convictions of our faith. For it is in the nature of who we Christians are to serve society, to be recognized by the sign of love, and to discover for ourselves and lead others to discover the inviolable dignity of every human person.”
“The Church,” he continued, “claims only its legitimate part in the political process – to assist the very reasoning which is fundamental to the pursuit of justice. The Church’s task is not to propose technical solutions to questions of governance or economic activity, but to help to form a social culture based on justice, solidarity and truth, for the common good.”