BY Daniel Harkins | May 4 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


The Church should be the conscience of the state, Cardinal says

The Catholic Church should serve as the conscience of the state, the UK’s most senior cleric has said ahead of an appearance in Scotland on Saturday.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, was speaking ahead of an appearance at the Boswell Book Festival on Saturday May 5. The cardinal will discuss his new book, Faith Finding a Voice, with composer Sir James MacMillan.

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales told the SCO that it is right that society should feel troubled by the moral values of the Church.

“I don’t know about you but sometimes I’m troubled by my conscience and the idea that a society might feel a bit uncomfortable before the principles and the message of Christianity is a good thing,” he said. “That’s not unsurprising — in fact if it didn’t then we are too comfortable and somehow the edge has gone off our conscience.

“There are lots of very difficult issues where we should attempt to be the conscience of society—and not to be offering solutions all the time.

“The Church and its message of the Gospel is not a place where ready-made solutions to complex problems are found, but it is a place in which principals and the light of revelation can help with complex issues that have to be tackled.”

The cardinal said an example of this would be the case of Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old who died last week after a protracted legal battle between his parents and the hospital who were caring for him.

“That story has been a tragedy for everybody,” he said. “Nobody has gained. But I think for some the ideas were more important than the reality.

“A parent’s love is the strongest thing in the world. But it also needs alongside it clear, compassionate thinking and, for me, clear, compassionate thinking is an important practical expression of love and care.”

The Boswell Book Festival is named after the Ayrshire writer James Boswell, and takes place from May 4-6 in Dumfries House, Cumnock. Dame Judi Dench, Anthony Horowitz and Alexander McCall Smith are among those appearing at the festival.

Cardinal Nichols will discuss his life and work, including his fight against human trafficking and slavery and his passion for sacred music, in conversation with Sir James MacMillan on May 5 at 2pm. Tickets are £9, £7 concessions. For more information, visit:

See next week’s May 11 edition of the SCO for the full interview with Cardinal Nichols.

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