Cardinal urges 'self-confidence and courage' in face of secularism

Cardinal Pell of Australia has spoken of growing intolerance and suppression of Christianity among secularist governments, who use the ideology of “tolerance and diversity” to silence Christians.

Speaking at Oxford University, the Cardinal said how human rights and anti-discrimination legislation was being used to push Christians and Christian opinion out of public debate.

He said, "Secularist intolerance for Christianity seeks to drive it not only from the public square but even from the provision of education, health care, and welfare services to the wider community," a goal which he said had been widely achieved, reports Life

The Cardinal said that the homosexual and feminist movements, who normally promote permissiveness, were now being particularly repressive of any political opposition.

Across the world Christians living under secularist governments had been discriminated against, often because of so-called “anti-discrimination” laws. He gave examples of health care workers in the UK and New York disciplined for upholding the sanctity of human life, supporters of traditional marriage in California threatened for opposing gay marriage, and Catholic social services in the UK forced to choose between renouncing their religious affiliation or closing down.

According to Cardinal Pell, the main issue for secularists is the legal protection of abortion. He said that laws requiring health care workers to take part in abortions, despite their own consciences, made “a mockery of conscientious objection”.

He added that laws protecting the right of conscience for Christians, especially when they opposed abortion or homosexuality, were being ignored or overturned.

"The human rights industry ran dead on the freedom of conscience issues which the legislation raised," he said.

In Victoria, Australia, legislation was recently passed removing the right of conscience for health care workers who object to abortion. Cardinal Pell said pro-abortion commentators had "attacked the concept of conscientious objection as nothing more than a way for doctors and nurses to impose their morality on their patients".

"Victoria's statutory charter of rights, which purports to protect freedom of religion, conscience and belief, was shown to be a dead letter when it comes to abortion," he said.

The Cardinal warned that modern secular liberalism had strayed from its origins of classical liberalism and now “has strong totalitarian tendencies”.

"Institutions and associations, it implies, exist only with the permission of the state and to exist lawfully, they must abide the dictates or norms of the state," he said.

He added, "Believers should not be treated by 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."

At the end of his lecture, Cardinal Pell called upon Christians to “recover their self-confidence and courage” and confront the “secular and religious intolerance of our day”.