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Cardinal offers support to Iris Robinson

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William Crawley | 16:52 UK time, Sunday, 20 July 2008

cardinalsmiling.jpgThe leader of Ireland's Catholics says he is in broad agreement with the DUP MP Iris Robinson, who claimed last week that it was the duty of government to 'uphold God's law'. Cardinal Sean Brady told me, on today's Sunday Sequence, that the precise details of the claim would need to be explored and the role of government is always to work for the common good of its people, but he was in general agreement with the MP's claim. He was speaking live from Sydney, Australia, where he has been taking part in World Youth Day celebrations.


  • Comment number 1.

    Why should anyone be surprised that the leader of a religion even in the Western world would like to see a return to ten centuries ago when Europeans lived in near theocracies. He may one day get his wish...much to his regret. The Eurabian Union could become a theocracy...maybe under Islam and not Christianity. Rowan Williams said that imposition of some aspects of Sharia law in the UK is unavoidable. Would it spread throughout the EU?

  • Comment number 2.

    Listening to the show this morning, it felt a bit unfair when you tagged on the question at the end of the interview.

    After all he was in Sydney and said he hadn't heard about the comments or controversy this week ... so springing it on him wasn't going to get a thought-out response that he could stand over or the press could sensibly use to represent his true view.

    That's what it sounded like.

  • Comment number 3.

    I can't agree with Alan in Belfast. The cardinal is a public leader of the Roman Catholic Church and he should make it his business to be aware of major public debates in Ireland before he goes on the radio to be interviewed. He was asked a basic question about the relationship between religious beliefs and the role of the government. I can assure Alan that this is a question the cardinal will certainly have thought about previously. His answer (which I agree with) is that human governments are divinely instituted and governments ought to act justly. Christians determine just action on the basis of God's law. For this reason, if a civil law opposes Gospel teaching, Christians should obey the Gospel and disobey the law. The Catholic Catechism makes just this point:

    Times to Refuse Obedience (2242):
    Citizens must refuse to obey directions of civil authorities which are against the moral order, the fundamental rights of persons or the Gospel teachings. By refusing obedience, the person correctly serves God and not the political community. A distinction exists between what "is rendered to Caesar" and what "is rendered to God" (Mt 22:21). "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

  • Comment number 4.

    I agree and disagree with PTL. I agree that it was fair enough to ask the cardinal a question about a big debate this week on the bible and state relations. In fact, the question was linked to the pope's 'appeal for a new Christian era', and the catholic church has been criticized in the US for threatening pro-choice catholic politicians with excommunication. Public figures are often asked a final question about issues of current controversy in news programmes; I can't se how this situation is any different.

    I disagree, on the other hand, with the cardinal's view, and PTL's view it seems, that the role of the government is to uphold the will of God. I would prefer the government to be silent on religious laws and concentrate on creating a society that is free and equal for all regardless of their religious or moral views.

  • Comment number 5.

    Given that he gave a dithering answer, you still couldn't real count it as authoritative.

    Anyway, as I originally said in the comment above, it _felt_ unfair - whether or not you argue he was fair game and should have been up-to-date with the local political/media shenanigans!

  • Comment number 6.

    EWTN the Catholic Cable channel had the organizer of Ireland's NO vote on Lisbon Duncan Ganley on TV and interviewed him a couple of days ago.


    The issue of whether or not the EU could force the Irish to legalize abortion was one of the real issues that came up. He had many interesting things to say about it. Apparently, Valery Giscard d'Estang had a lot to do with the way the treaty was written. He felt he'd put one over on the EU public by saying that it was much shorter by hundreds of pages than the EU Constitution was when in fact what they did was change the print fonts, squeezed the lines closer together and added 8000 words. So now Sarkozy is going to try to persuade the Irish to vote again until they get it right.

  • Comment number 7.

    alaninbelfast - with all due respect to the cardinal, what makes you think he wouldn't have sounded dithery even if he had been given advance notice of the question? Are you seriously suggesting that the BBC should give notice of hard questions to cardinals so that their answers aren't dithery?

  • Comment number 8.

    Dear Mrs Robinson,

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your appearances on the Steve Nolan Show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that (Leviticus 18:22) clearly states it to be an abomination.

    End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them.

    1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev. 1:9). The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in (Exodus 21:7). In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev. 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offence.

    4. (Lev. 25:44) states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to the Irish, but not Scots. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Scottish people?

    5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. (Exodus 35:2) clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

    7. (Lev. 21:20) States that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by (Lev. 19:27). How should they die?

    9. I know from (Lev. 11:6-8) that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

  • Comment number 9.

    anti- Like that link very much. I love taking issue with those who quote the OT to justify their tired prejudices. You may appreciate this quote from my blog in response to a comment against allowing condoms (the Roman Catholic position) based on 2 proof texts from the OT:

    "Genesis 38 does not describe a condemnation of contraception, it describes God’s displeasure at Onan’s plain disobedience. Deuteronomy 25 is even less relevant, containing a law against unwilling brother-in-laws. In any case it’s odd to appeal to a law given to Israelites while they were in the Promised Land in order to support an argument regarding the conduct of Christians today. If our friend Matthew had kept reading, he would have found - in the very next verse of Deuteronomy 25 - an admonition to cut off the hand of any woman who grabs the balls of a man fighting her husband."

  • Comment number 10.

    It's interesting that fundamentalist Protestant churces in the province now take a similar view to the Roman Catholic church.

    If I remember correctly, evangelicals in NI always took a slightly more liberal view of abortion than Catholics, allowing abortion under certain cercumstance. For example, if the mother's life was in danger (i.e. when the mother had to undergo chemotherapy for example), if the child was going to be born severly disabled, or in the case of rape. Am I correct in thinking that this was one of the referendums under Garret Fitzgerald's so called constitutional crusade ? The refurendum was narrowly rejected in the ROI, much to the delight of Northern Unionists. Recent abortion cases that have hit the headlines in the ROI have proved embarrasing as a result.

    I've also heard Professor Nevin speak on the subject and he certainly takes a more liberal line than the Catholic church.

    The evangelicals in NI now seem to be falling in line with the pro-life groups and appear not to be in favour of abortion under any circumstances. Perhaps this stance, like the rise of YECism here, has come from across the Atlantic. The US fundamentalists always seemed to take a much tougher line than their NI counterparts on this issue. Not any more it would seem.


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