Posts Tagged ‘Cardinal Keith O’Brien’

Dear liberals, political correctness needs to extend to Catholics too

27/02/2013, 11:18:56 AM

by Kevin Meagher

It’s a strange time to be a Catholic in Britain. Beset by internal turmoil and out of kilter with liberal-left thinking on a range of issues; my co-religionists can be forgiven for circling the wagons in the face of what feels like incessant hostility.

Yesterday’s Daily Mirror front page photo showed Cardinal Keith O’Brien stood next to a reclining Jimmy Savile, posing at some charity photo opportunity more than a decade ago. The photo was used gratuitously and bore no relation to the news report which focused on O’Brien’s resignation – amid accusations of “improper conduct” towards a number of priests. But the snide implication was clear enough. Clear – as well as tawdry and unjustified.

There is something happening to British Catholics at the moment; a growing sense among the poor bloody infantry that they need to justify their faith in the face of a pervasive threat. Friends in a range of workplaces and professions now complain of casual verbal insults – snide digs and asides – that would never be countenanced (rightly) against any other minority community. For many Catholics these days, it pays to keep your head down.

Liberal Democrat MP David Ward was pilloried recently for stupidly holding “the Jews” accountable for the actions of the Israeli government. The accusation of Islamophobia is enough to reduce any self-respecting liberal a fit of the vapours. Yet Catholics are now fair game – worthy targets of scorn – as the Mirror’s front page testifies.

But we’re a minority too. We’re not the ones with representatives in the House of Lords, or the ones with all those nice stone churches people want to get married in. We’re the other lot. The elderly Irish widows. The lonely young Polish girls, over here working for buttons. The family of Eritrean asylum seekers. For them and many others like them, the church provides a spiritual and social lifeline. It supports and inspires and, if needed, feeds and clothes.

Not to forget the plucky bands of English, Scots and Welsh believers whose forebears faced 250 years of outrageous state-sponsored persecution after the Reformation. This church is not the powerful, privileged monolith of liberal misconception.


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Gay rights and testy cardinals: respect and tolerance is a two-way street

07/03/2012, 08:00:24 AM

by Kevin Meagher

In case anyone failed to notice, Cardinal Keith O’Brien does not mince his words. The leader of the Scottish Catholic church (and until the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nicholls is given his biretta, the UK’s highest-ranking Catholic), believes the concept of gay marriage is an attempt to “redefine reality,” a “madness” and “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”.

Wow, all that came from a single paragraph in his piece in the Sunday Telegraph, setting out his position fairly unequivocally ahead of an imminent government consultation on extending civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples.

But aren’t the rights of a gay couple already well-enshrined in the civil partnership legislation, as the cardinal also points out?  Why, then, the push to rebrand it as marriage?

Ah, but this is an issue about parity of esteem, comes the response. Love and commitment – regardless of sexuality – deserves respect and equality. So is this a rather overblown argument about the definition of a single word? On the face of it, yes, but, as ever, what lies behind this rumpus is more significant.

This is just the latest skirmish is a much wider conflagration between faith and politics which is now raging. It is a cold war too, fought using proxies; this time it is gay marriage, next time it will be something else. The fighting is often disproportionately fierce, and, like the Little Endians and Big Endians in Gulliver’s Travels, fought over seemingly esoteric issues.


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