- Battle lines drawn
This week produced the clearest evidence yet that the Synod Fathers are sharply divided between those who are supporting Pope Francis in his efforts to present a more pastoral vision of the Church and those determined first and foremost to emphasise its moral teaching
- Home News
- World News
- Parish Practice
- Letters Extra
- The living Spirit
- Pope Francis invokes Paul VI's call for the Church to adapt to respond to changing 'needs of our time'
- Bishops pass synod document but fail to agree on three measures for care of remarried or gay Catholics
- Politicians and policy makers back Catholic Social Teaching as solution to economic crisis
- Francis picks Brentwood priest for biblical commission
The former Labour Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, has criticised the “disgraceful” behaviour of secularists in the run up to Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 visit, and said their actions spurred him on to organise a series of debates on the role of faith in public life.
In an interview with The Tablet Mr Clarke cited Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee and prominent atheist apologist Richard Dawkins as examples of people who hold “this secularist view that somehow right was on their side, and rationality would mean that religion was swept of the face of the earth – a point of view that I think is completely wrong.”
He said the activities of secularists before the papal visit – which included plans to arrest Benedict XVI – inspired him to work with Professor Linda Woodhead at the University of Lancaster and arrange the Westminster Faith Debates.
The debates, which start again on Wednesday, are backed by a £12 million grant from a religion and society programme funded by UK research councils. Mr Clarke is a visiting professor of politics and faith at Lancaster University.
Also in the interview Mr Clarke, a former Labour MP who served as Home Secretary from 2004 until 2006, expressed pessimism about his party’s chances in the next general election.
“I’m pessimistic from a Labour point of view,” he says. “More pessimistic than I think many in Labour are. I don’t say that … we can assume that Labour will be able to win at the next election.”
Subscribers can read the interview here.
You can subscribe to The Tablet here.