The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster in England, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, last night gave a valedictory lecture at Westminster Cathedral. It includes an interesting perspective on the history of Catholicism in Britain over the last 160 years, but also some rather beautiful insights into the role of the Church in our secular society. The Church is one of the last voices in our culture to hold onto a set of expectations for the future which transcend personal or nationalist interests. We have a universal hope.
In the search for inclusive, inoffensive labelling, our secular society has taken to branding Churches as ‘faith communities’. Perhaps we have an opportunity to fill out that label with our own particular content – something that brings out the truth that (largely uniquely now) it is Christians who are The People Who Hope For Others.
Here’s a quote from Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor,
One day the Church may be in favour with the secular powers, another it may be pilloried. We do not seek respectability, we seek faithfulness – faithfulness to the reality of Christ who is the Light of this age and every age and to the Church which receives its truth from Him and the gift of his Spirit. And with that faithfulness to Christ and his Church comes faithfulness to what it is to be human and building of a society in which everyone has the capacity to flourish whatever their race, creed, age, status and ability. The lamentation for a past time, some glorious golden age, is not a Christian song. It is not the song of faith but of despair, for our faith gives us a vision not of what has been but of what will be â€“ whatever the difficulties or sufferings we have to endure â€“ we cannot surrender or lose confidence in the future which God has secured for us. This is why the Church must always be an active agent in the creation and building up of a genuinely humane culture.
It’s worth reading the whole thing, which you can do on Ruth Gledhill’s blog here.
BTW, what is the Cardinal doing to Rowan in that photo?