Cardinal warns against ‘anti-Christian’ foreign policy
Cardinal Keith O’Brien has warned the UK Government against pursuing an ‘anti-Christian’ foreign policy ahead of the release in Scotland this morning of a report that 75 per cent of religious persecution in the world is against Christians
The cardinal’s comments come after the Coalition government recently announced plans to double overseas aid to Pakistan to more than £445 million, without requiring any commitment to religious freedom for Christians in that country.
Earlier this month Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian in the Pakistani government’s cabinet, was shot and killed by gunmen in Islamabad, provoking outcry and protests (above). He had previously spoken out against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
Citing a number of attacks on Christians, Cardinal O’Brien said he believes that conditions should be attached to any aid payments, requiring a definite commitment to protection for Christians and other religious minorities—including Shia Muslims.
Speaking at the Glasgow launch of the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need’s (ACN) report on Christian persecution, the cardinal is expected to further urge Foreign Secretary William Hague to ‘obtain guarantees from foreign governments before they are given aid.’
“To increase aid to the Pakistan government when religious freedom is not upheld and those who speak up for religious freedom are gunned down is tantamount to an anti-Christian foreign policy,” the cardinal added.
“Pressure should now be put on the Government of Pakistan—and the governments of the Arab world as well—to ensure that religious freedom is upheld, the provision of aid must require a commitment to human rights.”
The ACN audit of human rights also reveals that 100 million Christians around the world are now facing persecution. The cardinal, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, will be joined at this morning’s launch by Archbishop Bashar Warda, of Erbil in Iraq. Archbishop Warda will speak first hand about the fate of Christians in this troubled region.