Christian faith and values should not be imposed on society, says Cardinal

By staff writers
April 12, 2009

In a message that may surprise his successor, the outgoing Catholic Archbishop of Westminster says in an Easter Sunday homily that Christians should commend the Gospel by example not dominance.

The message will be delivered by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor at 10.30am today, as part of a Solemn Mass at Westminster Cathedral in London.

In his 2009 Easter sermon, the Cardinal says that the resurrection of Jesus is central to the the way in which Catholics and other Christians find meaning, hope and purpose in their lives. "The resurrection of Jesus", he declares, "is not just an historical fact. It is a continuing experience."

In what will be his last Easter homily at Westminster Cathedral, he says it is important that Christian faith and values should not be imposed on society. Rather, Christians need to lead by example and should show through their care and by their efforts to build a better and more just world, that the Spirit of the Risen Christ can defy sadness and pain.

However, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the man chosen to succeed Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, seems to have been taking a different view on seeking to impose the Church hierarchy's will in recent days - telling the football authorities that they should not allow games on Easter Sunday, and demanding a ban on more condom and birth control advertising on television. He has also opposed as "unnecessary" measures to address homophobic bullying in Catholic schools funded by general taxation.

Referring to his retirement as Archbishop of Westminster, and continuing his theme of witness, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor says that in life it was important to move forward by following the pattern of the life of Jesus, the pattern of dying in order to live.

"All of us die a little, perhaps every day, every year, every stage of our lives," he declares. "I now have to move on to a new stage of my life as I go into retirement. I have, if you like, to die a little in order to follow the Will of the Lord and begin, perhaps, a new stage of living, a more abundant life."

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