LONDON (CNS) — A British cardinal said Great Britain is being reduced to a “profoundly needy land” by attempts to purge religion from public life.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said secularization has led to the collapse of shared moral values and has created a sense of despair.
“Our nation is in great need because it is deprived of some of the greatest values of life which are reasons for meaning and reasons for hope,” he said in a midnight Mass homily in London’s Westminster Cathedral.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor said this resulted from the emergence of a culture which denied the existence of God but espoused “individual freedom as the fundamental value.”
“Our culture represents a truly radical break, not only with Christianity, but with the moral and religious traditions of humanity,” he said. “Thus it is not able to establish a proper dialogue with others, nor respond to the fundamental questions on the sense and direction of our lives.”
The cardinal denounced secularists attempting to squeeze the role of Christianity from the life of the nation, and he encouraged Christians to express their faith without fear.
“In our land God remains increasingly excluded from public life, and faith in him becomes more difficult because God no longer appears directly,” the cardinal said. “He seems even superfluous or out of place.”
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor urged the congregation to “show joy in your faith (and) happiness that God has given you this great gift of believing and hoping and loving him.”
Meanwhile, the cardinal also expressed sadness that Christians had abandoned the Holy Land because of the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor had returned recently from Bethlehem, where he had been on an Advent pilgrimage with Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury and other British religious leaders.
“But all is not well in our own country either,” he said. “Yes, here is no war or famine, but the England of today presents itself to us as a profoundly needy land.”