27 May 2016, The Tablet

Cardinal Nichols calls for closer relationship between Church and State

The cardinal was speaking at a symposium exploring the importance of St Thomas a Becket

Cardinal Vincent Nichols called for a broadening of a constructive dialogue between secular authorities and communities of faith in order to meet today’s challenges, at a symposium on Thomas Becket at Lambeth Palace today.

Referring to the bravery of the martyred Archbishop of Canterbury, who defended the Church against King Henry II in 1170, Nichols said: “We know that this relationship between the role and powers of the state on the one hand, and the role and commitment of the Church on the other, is never an easy one.”

He recalled the words of Pope Benedict’s address at Westminster Hall in 2010, that “religion is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to national conversation” and said the role of the faithful is “to defend those arenas of life in which true religion flourishes”.

The cardinal said solutions to today’s challenges were to be found in working together with governments from a position of trust, but added that in doing so the Church must not lose its “specific Judeo-Christian sources of our strength and inspiration”.

“The example of St Thomas stands before us as a reminder to every age that the point may come when there is no longer any space left for religious freedom, such a basic human right, which permits the holding and expressing of religious belief in word and action in the public forum,” the cardinal added.

He urged those present to focus their fidelity on Christ “as the measure and motivation of our words and actions” and to embrace the “true cost of discipleship”.

The aim of the symposium is to explore the importance of Thomas Becket, historically and today, in the week that one of his relics is being brought back to the UK from Hungary, where it had been kept at Esztergom since his martyrdom in 1170.

Following services at both Westminster Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, the relics will be taken to Canterbury, the site of his murder.

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