I am provoked into re-addressing the defensive decrying of secularist critique of what the prominent faithful hold dear (ie relevance through political influence), as promulgated by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor who last week visited my hometown to speak ‘on the threats facing Christianity in modern Britain.’
Having read the text of his address, I wrote to the Leicester Mercury to inquire: ‘Can I ask… has, or will, the Leicester Mercury ran/be running an item on Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s address at Leicester Cathedral last Tuesday evening?’ Unsurprisingly, I heard nothing back. So I don’t know. And can only assume they would not welcome a piece criticising the Cardinal – no matter how warranted.
Well, let’s have a look, shall we?
It’s a long speech, so I won’t waste your time scoffing at his introductory comments on the Enlightenment. Rather, further to my recent dissing of Baroness Warsi‘s egregious, Vatican-fawning, mis-representation of secularism and secularists, what chiefly concerns is the derogatory public portrayal of those who (justifiably) object to the undue clout he and his ilk retain, as sanctioned by our childish ‘constitution’. Having already assumed the moral high ground, Murphy-O’Connor claims:
‘No one is forced to be a Christian. But no one should be forced to live according to the new secular religion as if it alone were definitive and obligatory for all humankind.’
Nevermind the questionability of the first part of that statement, this just drips with paranoid hypocrisy. Definitive and obligatory? From a pillar of the Catholic Church, that is quite breath-taking in its shamelessness. The figurative labelling of secularism as a religion, reducing the argument then to merely an inter-faith bickering contest, wherefrom he can continue the theme:
‘The propaganda of secularism and its high priests wants us to believe that religion is dangerous for our health. It suits them to have no opposition to their vision of a brave new world, the world which they see as somehow governed only by people like themselves.’
Propaganda? What, like this? And isn’t the association with the science-fiction dystopia of ‘brave new world’ interesting, following his Enlightenment-resenting pre-amble? Science without the moral underpinning of faith: dangerous, eh? How trite; how bereft of answers from someone who is supposedly ordained to provide the way to them…
‘Indeed, in the last century, most violence is perpetrated by secular states upon their own people. It was secular and totalitarian authorities of the last century that exercised horrific violence and tried to subject their citizens to their own destructive philosophies.’
Here we go again. Why do these fanatics keep doing this? An educated man, able to draw upon all those smartly inserted theological and philosophical quotations, wilfully misrepresenting the definition of secular, which he deliberately conflates with the atheism he considers “the greatest of evils.” The implication that secularists and/or atheists are unavoidably of a Maoist/Nazi/Stalinist mindset. Why is no-one in authority slapping him down for uttering this tosh and having him charged under (hopefully soon to be revoked) Section 5 of the Public Order Act? (I’m being ironic here, in case you don’t read me so.) Because ‘His Eminence’ is… eminent, and is thus, with our PM’s endorsement, free to abuse his sacerdotal position to denigrate both secularists and atheists as “not fully human.”
‘What such people don’t realise is that true freedom only exists within constraints; and far from expanding freedom, unconstrained liberalism leads straight to abuses of power. We can see this from the logical false faiths that are filling the vacuum.’
Abuses of power? Let’s not open that file. Christianity being the only true faith, right? (And Catholicism presumably the only true denomination, but best not mention that when speaking as guest in an Anglican cathedral.) I would be interested to learn from the Cardinal of his criteria for labelling a faith as ‘logically false’ when his tactic employs more logical fallacies than a Vulcan following a bang on the head.
‘I have tried to say what ways we should stand up against the encroaching militant secularism and the consequences of its creed. It requires much more than solving our economic problems because it requires us to discover again who we are and to unmask the god or gods we follow.’
He affects to speak on behalf of all faiths (including the ‘false’ polytheistic ones, although not ‘the new secular religion’ ), but he isn’t really. This, it strikes me, is all an obfuscating ploy to maintain establishment significance, and to detract from certain other issues which it is hoped have gone quiet. The stock mantra of assertions (now) implicating secularism (previously atheism) for… pretty much anything ‘sinful.’
Despite the grudging token acknowledgement that ‘No one could deny and should deny the great advances that the Enlightenment has made from which we still benefit today’, it is the Enlightenment he considers sowed the seeds of secularism: ‘One objective of the Enlightenment was, however, to relegate religion to the private sector.‘
‘Objective’?! So it failed, then? Forgive my confusion.