BY Martin Dunlop | March 15 | comments icon 6 COMMENTS     print icon print

21-ACN-BHATTI-PROTEST

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.

Comments - 6 Responses

  1. Christian says:

    How typical of the Church, propagate a disease (religious division) and then proscribe more as the cure.

  2. charming says:

    You guys want to paint it as christian issue. It is the issue for whole pakistan it is only one christian got killed how many pakistani muslims get killed every day did you ever count no one speak against it. Even if there was no minority getting killed issue now as you will highlight it as much people will start doing it for fame or fun. please drop this all Pakistanies are equal and we condemned the killing of any pakistani either muslim Christian or who ever and how he got killed by terrorist by pakistani military or by drown attack all killing is bad

  3. Eugene Kaufmann says:

    This aid is intended as a commitment to freedom from poverty for everyone – not as a bribe to allow Christian expression. How any of this aid can be regarded as an “anti-christian” foreign policy is incomprehensible. The most vociferous opponents of any religion are members of another religion, and that will continue to be the case.
    The cardinal’s idea is to restrict aid from those in poverty when locals those who speak for religious freedom are gunned down. “Sorry old chap – not helping you anymore because our cleric has been shot.” Curiouser and curiouser said Alice.

  4. David Thomson says:

    In response to Mr. Kaufman’s remarks, of course we as a country, and many individuals, give aid to countries for the relief of all people of that country. Our Bishops’ charity SCIAF conspicuously gives aid to those of any persuasion without favour, as do all Britain’s major international charities. However, we would be negligent if we did not use the granting of aid as a bit of leverage to countries with problems of minority oppression/human rights issues to encourage them to improve the situation for said minorities. I don’t think Mr. Kaufman’s comment about ceasing aid because of violence against clerics would ever be acted upon. This would by itself be anti-Christian; ‘turn the other cheek.’
    The Cardinal is right that the British Government should have lost no time in telling the Pakistan government (or any others in future) that oppresion of Christians is absolutely wrong, and that strong measures should be taken to stamp thhis out.

  5. Philip M.McGhee says:

    The Cardinal is quite correct. It’s about time that those of us in the Christian tradition demand equal protection. Some Islamic states extend assistance only to Islamic minorties in certain places e.g. the former Yugoslavia. The Episcopal Diocese of New York built a mosque in Afganistan,where Christians are persecuted. How many mosques have been bombed in the West? I hope the British gov’t listens to His Eminence.

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