By Hilary White

BIRMINGHAM, November 25, 2009 ( – Catholics and other “traditional” Christians in Britain have effectively “been disenfranchised” by a government and political class that is determined to hold on to its anti-life and anti-family dogmas, a retired UK Catholic bishop has said. Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue issued what he called a “personal manifesto” for Catholics in the UK at a lecture to students at the Catholic chaplaincy of Birmingham University on Sunday.

“Until recently,” he said, he would have encouraged young Catholics to become involved in the political process, “but realistically how welcome is the Catholic voice in British politics?”

“Would local party activists welcome young Catholics, who are pro-life, pro-adoption by a mother and a father, accept the Church's teaching on homosexuality, and question the effectiveness of 'safe-sex' education, just to name a few controversial issues?

“I very much doubt it, but I hope to be proven wrong on this!”

The “personal manifesto” he said, comes as a response to the run-up to the 2010 general election, the first since Tony Blair's New Labour party was elected to a third term in 2005.

Catholics and others who are being pushed out of the mainstream of political life, he said, must fight back, by strongly asserting Christian values in innovative ways. There is a “pressing need” for Catholics to work to “counter-act the hostility of the press and TV towards the Catholic Church.” 

“I encourage students here to use all the types of media at your disposal to communicate Catholic ideas and truth – write plays, produce films, put clips on Youtube, design websites, etc. etc.”

Britain has become a country where public expression of the Christian religious belief is becoming increasingly suppressed by officialdom. Bishop O'Donoghue said, “It seems that every week now we hear of a nurse or social worker being disciplined or even sacked for displaying a crucifix or witnessing to their faith in their work.”

O'Donoghue himself personally encountered that hostility towards traditional Christianity in Parliament when he was summoned in 2008 to Westminster by a Commons Committee to answer accusations of “fundamentalism.” The secularist lobby was furious after the bishop issued a document on Catholic schools for his diocese in which he insisted that Catholic teaching, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, be upheld and crucifixes displayed in classrooms.  
Bishop O'Donoghue noted that not all politics is restricted to “entrenched political elites in government and the media.” He gave the example of Polish Catholics who resisted the totalitarian regimes of Nazism and communism “through preserving their religious heritage and finding new ways of expressing it.”

“Pope John Paul shows us that the ability to bring about long-term, radical change can be achieved through a strong, self-confident religious identity, combined with courageous and innovative cultural expression.”

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