Friday, May 22, 2009

The Catholic church: faith and reason

From the London Guardian-

It should be the among the best of times to take over the leadership of the Catholic church in England and Wales. In the face of the collapse of establishment authority, both political and economic, there is an appetite for a conversation about ethics to which nearly all would accept that religious leaders might contribute. But by the time of his installation in the early afternoon yesterday, the new Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, must have been wondering if it was instead the worst of times. The enormity of the story detailed in the Ryan report about the years of abuse in Irish children's homes was a bleak backdrop to the service introducing the 11th archbishop. But that was all it was until he praised the "courage" of the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy for facing their past – and put himself smack into the heart of it.

The plea from both Westminster and Lambeth – Rowan Williams was a prominent guest yesterday – is for space for faith in the public discourse. In his homily, the new archbishop called for "respectful dialogue" and "creative conversation" conducted in a spirit of generosity. But although friends say he is a warm and compassionate individual, his recent record is that of a zealous defender of the status quo. No one can doubt his skill as a campaigner: he defeated the government on faith school quotas and wounded it on legislation allowing same-sex adoption. Lambeth's highbrow opacity was going to be translated into straightforward syntax by Westminster, however uncomfortable. For Vincent Nichols said from the start that he was not seeking to be friends with everyone.

More here-

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