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Cardinal sets out his vision of Catholic Church in Britain today

posted on 01 January 1900

In a major lecture reflecting on his ministry as Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor sets out his vision of the Catholic Church in Britain today.

The lecture “Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope ) - The Shape of the Church : Past, Present and to Come..” looks at how the Church has responded to the various challenges since the restoration of the Hierarchy 150 years ago.

The Cardinal will say that it is through understanding the dignity and destiny of every person before God and their infinite value in His eyes that the Church’s first word is always a “yes” to the fundamental calling and dignity of life.

The Cardinal goes on to warn against a false pessimism within the Church.

“The greatest danger for us at the moment is to let ourselves believe what secular culture wants us to believe about ourselves, namely, that we are becoming less and less influential and in decline. There are certainly challenges and there is much work to do. But on the contrary I believe that the Church has a vigorous life, and a crucial role to play in our society – more important than at any other time in our recent history.”

The Cardinal also says that focusing primarily on what is wrong leads to an unbalanced negativity in any analysis about our culture.

“It is tempting and certainly headline making simply to list what is wrong. One could say, for instance, that we now live not in a liberal but a libertine society in which all moral and ethical boundaries seem to have gone out of the window. But that ignores the fact that there are very many people trying their best, deeply concerned about the future and alive to the humanly destructive power of so many forces at large. The truth is that to be human is to be deeply tempted to be good. What is needed is a renewed sensitivity to the moral and ethical dimensions of living which very many want to see more firmly embraced… We need to encourage and affirm the good in each person, rather than simply naming the bad. It is only if the joys and hopes of humanity are shared first that true and lasting change is possible.”

The argument that most people agree with the Cardinal’s view that religion does and should play a significant role in society is backed by a survey this week. The Cardinal points out that in the BBC survey two thirds of those questioned in this country said the law should respect and be influenced by UK religious values and two thirds also argue that religion has an important role to play in public life. He argues that the Church “has a perspective and a wisdom which society cannot afford to exclude or silence.”

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posted on 01 January 1900

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