- Now the talking really begins
Pope Francis wanted frankness and openness and that is what he got. But there is also the sense that the real debate in the Church about marriage and families is only just starting
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The Prime Minister has once again applauded the value of Christianity in public life, arguing that it can inspire politicians to get out and "make a difference to people's lives".
On Tuesday David Cameron was among 80 MPs, 20 peers and nearly 600 churchgoers to attend the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Westminster Hall, modelled on a similar event in Washington DC.
Mr Cameron said in a foreword to the programme: “I believe very deeply that we should be confident in Britain about our status as a Christian country. So I think it is absolutely right that our Parliament should express this confidence through this annual prayer breakfast.”
He added: “Greater confidence in our Christianity can also inspire a stronger belief in our work as politicians to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives – and it should inspire our support for churches and faith organisations in the vital work they do in our society and around the world. Whatever our political parties and whatever our disagreements these are values we share.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, delivered the main address and quoted Pope Francis, who at their meeting this week told him the global twenty-first century Church must be about the three P's: prayer, peace and poverty.
"A twenty-first-century global Church loves the poor and the victim, and stands for human dignity, challenges oppressors and supports victims. It speaks for women killed in lynchings called 'honour killings', or for those imprisoned under blasphemy laws," said Archbishop Welby.
It was the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury has addressed the prayer breakfast in its 20-year history. At the start of his address Welby paid tribute to Catholic MP Paul Goggins, who had been scheduled to chair the event, before his sudden death at the end of last year.
At Easter Mr Cameron wrote in the Church Times: "I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people's lives."
Photo: Bible Society/Layton Thompson