Sunday March 18, 2012 www.thecatholicuniverse.com
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Britain’s favourite cookery writer rustles up a great prize for CAFOD’s Lent Appeal See page 35
Cameron on crucifix ban is a sign of contradiction
By Tara Holmes
A backlash against a controversial crucifix ban has forced David Cameron to openly contradict one of his own ministers over the right of Christians to wear crosses to work.
In a surprise move this week the British Prime Minister signalled his support for the wearing of Christian symbols in the workplace.
In a clear attempt to distance Mr Cameron from the controversy, a Downing Street spokesman stressed: “The PM’s personal view is that people should be able to wear crosses.”
His comments appeared to put the Prime Minister on a collision course with the Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone who had instructed government lawyers to fight a landmark European Court of Human Rights case brought by two women suspended from work.
Government looks to be in a state of confusion as Prime Minister comes out in favour of the right to wear a crucifix at work
Eric Pickles backed Mr Cameron’s stance, arguing that a “discreet display” of religious beliefs should be tolerated in today’s Britain.
The intervention from both men also helped to allay fears that the coalition government, already at loggerheads with the Church on same-sex marriage, was about to embark on a fresh fight with Britain’s religious leaders. Whilst the politicians’ remarks were welcomed in Church circles this week, Catholics were urged to stay on their guard against further attacks on their faith.
One of the country’s longest serving Catholic bishops said that the wearing of religious symbols in the workplace is a battle that needs to be “fought by everyone – not just Catholics.”
Hallam’s Bishop John Rawsthorne told The Universe: “Unless it’s a health and safety risk – and sometimes it will be - I can’t see any reason why there should be a problem with wearing religious symbols.”
The Sheffield-based bishop, added: “It’s part of the narrowness of where we seem to be in this country and that’s sad.
“We’ve always had that breadth of understanding of these things in this country.
“All of sudden it’s become an issue. It’s a narrowing down of our national perspective in life. It doesn’t fit in with that sense of inclusiveness we have in this country.”
The British government is planning to argue at the European Court of Human Rights for employers to prohibit the wearing of a cross or crucifix at work because it is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith.
The lawsuit on religious freedom in Britain, due to be heard in Strasbourg this spring covers the cases of Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin. Mrs Eweida, a British Airways check-in clerk, was suspended for refusing to take off a cross she wore to work. Mrs Chaplin claims she was discriminated against by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust which barred employees from displaying crosses.
Continued on page 4
Our popular series on new evangelisation - the many ways that you can discover your vocation Pages 17 to 20
Catholic writer does more than rearrange theTitanicdeckchairs
Following hard on the heels of the phenomenally successful Downton Abbey, Catholic writer and actor Julian Fellowes looks set to deliver another blockbusting success with the four-part ITV drama Titanic. Julian talks to TheUniverseabout the reasons why he took on such an epic project.
See page 35
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