Edit: the retiring Bishop of the Diocese of Motherwell recently expressed some concerns about the Liberty of the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom on December 10th, which was systematically greeted in the press, to include one "Catholic" blog, as an "intemperate rant". here, here, less offensive here, and here.
Considering that the Prime Minister didn't address any of the Bishop's concerns, about whether Catholic educators would be able to teach according to their consciences without losing their jobs, or how the Catholic Church is being steadily driven out of its traditional role in poor relief, adoption services and medical care by an increasingly hostile government, we thought the Bishop's response was rather mild. The Prime Minister, actually just told the Bishop that he'd have to be happy with being able to wear a cross in public, and that he insultingly stated that the Catholic Church and the Bishop should, "get with the program".
What program is that? Violating Catholic teaching to satisfy the increasingly capricious and decadent Government of the United Kingdom?
We just received the exchange from a reader in Scotland, which wasn't cited by any of the anti-Catholic media. She assured me that the press wouldn't be fair about it. So we've edited the Bishops second letter and included the important points omitted by the usual suspects in the press. Interestingly, the Catholic Herald and the Tablet are awol on this it seems.
This is another addition which Elizabeth thought was the most significant thing about the letter to the Prime Minister:
"So far as the Roman Catholic Church, whose Catholic adherents -the largest minority (approx. 6 million) in the UK - the one faith group not provided for in law - is concerned, you are out of your depth. We will take no finger-prodding lectures from anyone or any group devoid of moral competence. I suspect it is only a matter of time before you go one step further and outlaw the teaching of Christian doctrine on sexual morality on the grounds of discrimination."
Here's an excerpt addressing the issues:
You have publicly declared that "the values of Christianity are the values we need"; that Christian values were central to Britain and should be "treasured". Yet at the European Court of Human Rights your government is contesting appeals by Christians in their attempt to reverse UK Tribunal and Court judgments against them. Judgmenets that forbid them from practicing their Christian values and living as their consciences dictate.
Your reasoning -- "that we are not supporting these cases as we want to defend UK legislation and do not think that the law in this issue should be dictated by Strasbourg" -- is saying in effect that while you claim to be an advocate for "Christian values" to be "treasured" and practiced in our nation that UK judgments against the rights of Christians must nevertheless be upheld at all costs. You vacillate -- ambivalent about the role you wish to perform -- the Disciple of David or Nero! With such a contradiction between your statements and actions on what basis can you expect anyone -- Christian in particular -- to trust or respect you?
... Which brings me to your regrettable reproach of the Church of England. [He attacked the Church of England for not approving Women Lay-Bishops] With your customary linguistic aplomb you protested that the Church needed to "get with the program me"; that it needed a "sharp prod" towards the modern world. Disagree with decisions by all means but such graceless comments were indelicate to the point of being offensive. And this from a prime minister belittling the nation's established church. Hardly an example to set for society in general and especially for the youth of this country.
... You have already started with your indecent haste to rush through the Gay Marriage Bill. Counsel from respected legal experts warn of the damage that redefining marriage will do to Christian religious freedom and the protection of family life, all of which will further undermine Christians freedom of conscience. We face the prospect of teachers being forced to teach against their religious beliefs or face dismissal (your own education minister refused to rule out such a possibility); the likelihood that parents would have no right to withdraw their child from lessons endorsing gay marriage; the probability of public sector workers losing their jobs for not promoting the governments new vision of marriage and careers being rejected for fostering because of their Christian beliefs. This amounts to a serious threat to civil liberties even to the extent of preventing people doing things which are manifestly good for society.
As Pope Benedict XVI has declared: "Religious freedom is the pinnacle of all other freedoms. It is a sacred and inalienable right. It includes on the individual and collective levels the freedom to follow one's conscience in religious matters." These statements should be uncontested as they are enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. In a recent report the UN special rapporteur said: "The state has to respect everyone's freedom of religion or belief as an inalienable -- and thus non-negotiable -- entitlement of human beings." Sadly, under your premiership, this most basic of human rights is no longer being respected in the UK>
Finally, with regard to your demand that the Church "get with the programme" let me remind you that the Christian Church is a fact of history, an incarnation of Christianity. Christ created a Church for all time, not to suit the specific mores of an era. It embraces every nation and culture known to man and has withstood the rise and fall of empires and civilisations for over two millennia -- and all this amazingly without any direction and guidance from you or your peer group.