EDINBURGH, Scotland, April 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As the UK government fights Christians’ right to wear a cross at work, Britain’s top Catholic prelate has responded by calling on the faithful to wear the cross “each and every day of their lives.”
In his Easter Sunday homily, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien of Edinburgh said wearing the cross regularly is a sign of the Christian’s desire to imitate Christ and “should not be a problem for others.”
“Rather they should see in that sign an indication of our own desire to love and to serve all peoples in imitation of that love and service of Jesus Christ,” he told the congregation at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
The prelate’s comments come as David Cameron’s Conservative government has opposed the case of two women—Nadia Eweida and Shirley Chaplin—who have gone before the European Court of Human Rights seeking the right to wear a cross in their workplace.
Though Prime Minister Cameron has said that he personally believes citizens should be free to wear the cross, lawyers for his Foreign Office have argued that wearing the cross is not a “necessary” aspect of the Christian faith and so employers ought to have the right to fire workers who refuse to remove the ancient symbol.
“In neither case is there any suggestion that the wearing of a visible cross or crucifix was a generally recognised form of practising the Christian faith, still less one that is regarded (including by the applicants themselves) as a requirement of the faith,” wrote the Foreign Office in its submission to the European Court.
But Cardinal O’Brien disagrees, and decried the growing “marginalization of religion.”
He quoted an address by Pope Benedict at Westminster Hall during his Sept. 2010 visit to Britain.
“Religion is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation,” said the Pope. “In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance.”
The Cardinal observed that “when the Pope addressed those leaders in Westminster Hall, his cross was visible over his robes – as indeed the cross is visible over the garments of every Cardinal and Bishop.”
“Why shouldn’t each and every Christian similarly wear proudly a symbol of the cross of Christ on their garments each and every day of their lives?” asked the prelate.
“I know that many of you do wear such a cross of Christ – not in any ostentatious way, not in a way that might harm you at your work or recreation, but a simple indication that you value the role of Jesus Christ in the history of the world, that you are trying to live by Christ’s standards in your own daily life and that you are only too willing to reach out a hand of help to others, as did Jesus Christ when he was on earth,” he continued.
“Whether on a simple chain or pinned to a lapel, the cross identifies us as disciples of Christ and we should wear it with pride,” he added.
Reacting to the Cardinal’s comments, Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is representing Chaplin at the European Court, told the BBC that it is “time for Christians everywhere to mark their allegiance to the cross.”
Find Cardinal O’Brien’s full address here.