Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cardinal criticises EU attitude to religion

Amidst the murmurings of a possible second referendum in the Irish Republic in order that the Irish people be given another opportunity to deliver the right answer, the Roman Catholic Primate of All-Ireland, Cardinal Séan Brady, has suggested that ‘EU hostility to religion may have prompted some Irish voters to reject the Lisbon Treaty’.

He is of the opinion that ‘a succession of anti-family, anti-life and other anti-Christian decisions by Brussels has made it more difficult for committed Christians to maintain their instinctive support for Europe in the Lisbon Referendum’, and he urges the EU ‘to review its pragmatic attitude that compromises essential human, moral and social values’.

He criticised the EU for ‘promoting secularism at the expense of the Christian heritage of the vast majority of its member states’ (vast majority? Is it not all?), and he warned that further progress along these lines will have ‘inevitable political and social consequences’.

He has called for the EU ‘to review its prevailing pragmatism that results in Christians being denied the right to intervene in public debates, or at least having their contribution dismissed as an attempt to protect unjustified privileges, such as the right to employ supporters of the Christian ethos of institutions like schools’.

He said the same might be said of controversies over stem cell research, the status of same sex unions, the primacy of the family based on marriage, and the culture of life. Complaining that Irish media are so secular, Dr Brady also warned that the founding ideals of the EU could not succeed unless public debate in Ireland reconsidered more strongly our traditional moral values.

And this has spurred the all-so secular Irish Times to respond, and it does so quite forcefully.

In an article entitled ‘Cardinal's EU critique points to a reluctance to play by rules’, Ronan McCrea refers to the Cardinal’s ‘alarming ignorance’, ‘serious misconceptions’, and his denial of the reality of pluralist democracy. Mr McCrea wonders why the Cardinal ‘finds it disturbing and offensive for the church to accept the criticism and duty to justify one's beliefs that is the lot of all other participants in public debate’. The rebuttal continues:

‘The cardinal complains that: "It has not been unknown . . . for individuals to have to defend their right to hold political, public or legislative office within EU institutions while professing a public commitment to their Christian faith, sometimes against very public and hostile challenge."

‘This is presumably a reference to Rocco Buttiglione, whose sexist and homophobic views, which Buttiglione ascribed to his Catholicism, made him unfit in the eyes of the European Parliament to be justice commissioner (a portfolio that includes anti-discrimination).

‘Assessing the opinions of appointees to powerful political offices is, however, really a rather unremarkable thing for a parliament to do. Those who held racist, sexist or other discriminatory views on bases other than religion would have been equally opposed by parliamentarians.

‘The cardinal has not made clear why religion should get a free pass in this regard and how political choice and accountability could be maintained if such a pass were given.

‘Cardinal Brady further suggested that to question the views and opinions of nominees for public office ended up with Christians "being denied the right to intervene in public debates or at least having their contribution dismissed as an attempt to protect unjustified privileges".

'There is a very big difference between being asked to justify one's views and being opposed by those who hold opposite beliefs on the one hand, and being denied the right to participate on the other. It is particularly strange for this accusation to be made in the context of the EU, which has set up a programme of structured dialogue specifically for religious organisations, in which the Catholic Church has taken a leading part. Other kinds of organisations have not had such special facilitation and have had to take their place amongst civil society in general.
Indeed the Lisbon Treaty has been criticised as granting too much privilege to religious bodies in this regard.

‘The cardinal also referred implicitly to a series of EU decisions that he felt contradicted the institutional, social and political aims of the church saying: "Successive decisions which have undermined the family based on marriage, the right to life from the moment of conception to natural death, the sacredness of the Sabbath, the right of Christian institutions to maintain and promote their ethos, including schools . . . have made it more difficult for committed Christians to maintain their instinctive commitment to the European project."

‘Here, the cardinal is simply wrong. The European Court of Justice has repeatedly upheld restrictions on Sunday trading as a cultural choice that member states are entitled to make. The EU has refused to require the introduction of abortion and the Citizenship Directive of 2004 did not require any member state to introduce gay marriage or civil unions.

‘Most strikingly, in directive 2000/78 the union actually granted exemptions to religious organisations in respect of anti-discrimination legislation, which it did not grant to any other organisations. The exemptions allow religious employers to require employees to adhere to their ethos even when it is discriminatory to do so.

‘More disturbing than his lack of information in relation to the union's approach to these matters is Cardinal Brady's instinctive opposition to the notion that religious bodies should have to account and argue for their beliefs and legal privileges in the same way as everybody else.

‘The EU has, in fact, granted religion a privileged position in public debate and EU law has in the area of employment given religious bodies exemptions and privileges that it has withheld from other organisations.

‘However, as a political organisation committed to democracy, the EU cannot exempt candidates for public office from being criticised or rejected on the basis of beliefs and opinions that may be religious in nature, but that may also affect the decisions they would make in office.

‘A democracy has a duty to make laws in the interests of all. As an entity whose population is religiously diverse, the EU cannot legislate purely on the basis of the theological convictions of a single faith without violating this duty. Furthermore, in democratic public life, individuals must account for their beliefs and will inevitably be criticised for them.

‘The Cardinal has effectively characterised the imposition on religious bodies of the duties to accept criticism and provide justifications for their political demands as tantamount to excluding religion from public life. Such a resistance to playing by the rules that govern the behaviour of all other organisations in political life would seem to indicate that the Catholic Church still has some way to go in reconciling itself with pluralist democracy.’

And yet Mr McCrea fails to explain (or acknowledge) the historical theological movement in Europe which has permitted such religious diversity to flourish. It is the duty of the EU to sustain the religious foundations of that liberty, not to subsume them to nebulous notions of neutrality under the pretext of equality in the name of fraternity.

If Christianity has provided the European Empire with its liberty and its concept of justice, it would be rash indeed to cease to legislate ‘purely on the basis of the theological convictions’ of that single faith.

10 Comments:

Blogger Windsor Tripehound said...

Funny thing; I'm not aware of any "pro-choice" advocates of slaughtering unborn children being required to justify their stance on that particular issue when standing for office in the EU..

27 August 2008 12:34  
Blogger Jomo said...

Wasn't it a member of the old Irish Parliament who when accused of selling his country by voting for the union said "thank God I have a country to sell" ?

The Irish elite have totally bought into the Eu project despite the implications for the Country's Christian heritage.

The subsidies from Brussels appear to have been accepted without compaint or question. The elite will do everything in their power to reverse the vote on the Lisbon treaty as they managed to do with the vote on Nice.Going along with the EU's "pluralist" agenda allows
them the joy of kicking Bishops and Priests around.

Perhaps the looming recession in the Euro zone and its likely impact on the Irish economy may allow them the chance to re-discover the merits of national independence!

27 August 2008 13:43  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

Your Grace

What really p****s me off is listening to the likes of liberal journalists making the offhand statement:

This is presumably a reference to Rocco Buttiglione, whose sexist and homophobic views, which Buttiglione ascribed to his Catholicism, made him unfit in the eyes of the European Parliament to be justice commissioner (a portfolio that includes anti-discrimination)

Perhaps it is well to remind ourselves of what said at Buttiglioni's inquisition:

He was asked whether, as a Catholic, he considered homosexuality a sin; he replied, as would most Catholics, that he did, but that this was irrelevant to policy since it was not a crime; that morality and law did not, and should not, mix, and that he also believed in freedom, which implied “not imposing on others what one considers correct”.

Notwithstanding this reasoned argument, the left wing Euro MEPs declared him unfit to serve as justice and home affairs commissioner: not for lack of competence, but for holding views that secular liberals find repugnant.

As Rosemary Righter of the Times put it - this was a victory for intolerance.

(See the times online article article499825)

Now this 'Ronan rat' compounds it by his throwaway remark about the 'homophobic and sexist Buttiglioni'.

If that's the case, all Roman Catholics who claim to be as such are now considered 'homophobes and sexists'. The EU had better start investing in concentration camps, (sorry re-education centres) for us all.

27 August 2008 16:02  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

“not imposing on others what one considers correct”.

Well bother with law at all?

27 August 2008 16:25  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

i think timothy 1 vs 1-11 NIV trans

vs8 we know that the law is good if one uses it properly>we also know that law is made not for the righteous , but for law breakers and rebels, the ungodly and the sinful, the unholy and the irreligous; for those who kill their fathers or mothers for murderes, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers and for what ever else is contrary to the sound doctorine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which he entrusted to me .


slave traders, liars and perjurers about sums up nu labours approach to the uk citizens in forcing them into europe. the othe labels might also fit .

27 August 2008 17:17  
Blogger mckenzie said...

I would have to write a book to explain why His Grace has so dolefully got this all wrong. But my writing book skills are dolefully inadequate for the purpose.
All these directives, which supposedly grant exemptions, do not seem to prevent reams of litigation against the Church.

ALSO
‘The cardinal has not made clear why religion should get a free pass in this regard..'

Surely the answer to this is:

'He criticised the EU for ‘promoting secularism at the expense of the Christian heritage of the vast majority of its member states’ (vast majority? Is it not all?)..

ALSO
'The European Court of Justice has repeatedly upheld restrictions on Sunday trading as a cultural choice that member states are entitled to make. The EU has refused to require the introduction of abortion and the Citizenship Directive of 2004 did not require any member state to introduce gay marriage or civil unions.'

Yes indeed, the European Court of Justice says many things, they speak with forked tongue! And when one's government seems hell bent on pushing through a 'succession of anti-family, anti-life and other anti-Christian decisions (by Brussels) (it) has made it more difficult for committed Christians to maintain their instinctive support for Europe in the Lisbon Referendum’,

27 August 2008 17:52  
Blogger Ælfhere said...

I love that leftwing journalist's response. "This here Cardinal says the EU hates religion. Well I love the EU and I hate religion, so I don't what this here Cardinal is complaining about."

Beautiful, really! And a very good example of what's wrong with the "debate" about the EU - i.e. that there is no debate. The two sides of any argument state their positions, refuse to listen each to what the other side is saying, and the EU carries on and does what it was going to do anyway.

27 August 2008 21:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate religion!
I love God!
Religion is what I can do for God .
Relationship(with God) is what God has done for me!

30 August 2008 13:42  
Blogger Chalcedon said...

Being able to discriminate is a mark of expertise and good taste. Why can you discriminate in regard to a good wine but apparently nothing else? Yet we all discriminate every day in what we choose to do and who we choose to associate with.

31 August 2008 18:35  
Blogger David Gerard said...

Don Sarkozy explained, "You must understand. Europe is like a family."

4 September 2008 22:21  

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