Cardinal Keith O'Brien urges Christians to 'proudly' wear cross

Cardinal Keith O'Brien Cardinal Keith O'Brien is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland

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Britain's most senior Roman Catholic Church cleric has called for Christians to wear a cross every day.

In his Easter Sunday sermon, Cardinal Keith O'Brien will tell worshippers to "wear proudly a symbol of the cross of Christ" each day of their lives.

The leader of the Church in Scotland, he will voice concern at the growing "marginalisation" of religion.

His comments come as a case is going to the European Court of Human Rights to allow employees to wear crosses.

In his Easter message, Cardinal O'Brien is expected to refer to remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 that Christians "need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles".

Former nurse Shirley Chaplin, from Exeter, and Nadia Eweida, from Twickenham, who worked with British Airways, are taking their call for all employees to be able to wear a cross at work to the European Court of Human Rights.

Both women lost their discrimination cases in 2010.

An appeal court judgment upheld the Employment Appeal Tribunal's finding that banning Ms Eweida from wearing a cross was not discriminatory because Christians "generally" do not consider wearing a cross as a requirement of their religion.

'Increasing marginalisation'

Cardinal O'Brien will say in his Easter Sunday homily at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh that many people wear crosses "not in any ostentatious way, not in a way that might harm you at your work".

He will say: "Just 18 months ago, Pope Benedict XVI stood in Westminster Hall in London addressing a vast audience of politicians, diplomats, academics and business leaders.

"There he clearly stated that 'religion is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation'.

"In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters."

Start Quote

It is that sense of hope that emerges from the darkness of a tomb, which underpins the faith of the church”

End Quote Right Reverend David Arnott Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

The cardinal, who is the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, hopes increasing numbers of Christians will adopt the practice of wearing a cross in a "simple and discreet" way as a symbol of their beliefs.

A lapel pin costs £1 - less than a chocolate Easter egg - and could be given as gifts, he will say.

Mrs Chaplin is being represented by the Christian Legal Centre.

Andrea Williams, its director, said it was "time for Christians everywhere to mark their allegiance to the cross".

"I very much hope that in Europe there will be vindication for Shirley Chaplin," she said, adding that she hoped "some sort of common sense will prevail".

A Home Office spokesman said: "People should be able to wear crosses. The law allows for this, and employers are generally very good at being reasonable in accommodating people's religious beliefs."

The government says UK law "strikes the right balance" between employees' rights to express their beliefs at work and the requirements of employers.

The law, and its application in the workplace, centres on article nine of the European Convention of Human Rights.

The legislation backs an individual's freedom to act in accordance with religious beliefs but also recognises limitations "in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others".

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said Britain had a strong tradition of freedom of expression and tolerance.

China address

She said: "It seems to me from a freedom of conscience point of view, from a freedom of expression point of view, you should be able to express yourself as long as you can do your job and as long as you are not harming anyone else.

"So of course, no-one would say a brain surgeon should be able to wear a cross dangling over a patient in a sterile theatre but equally you should not ban symbols just because people don't agree with them."

Meanwhile, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will deliver his Easter address from China.

The Right Reverend David Arnott is visiting Church of Scotland projects in Yunnan Province.

He will tell worshippers: "The world changes at Easter. The days lengthen, the flowers, long-hidden, bloom in riots of colour and the very air, hopefully, feels that bit warmer. There is a sense of hope all around.

"It is that sense of hope that emerges from the darkness of a tomb, which underpins the faith of the church."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    From what I can see, the respect and tolerance demanded by various religious groups often appears to be quite one-sided.

    In my experience, while religious people expect their beliefs and customs to be respected by non believers, they're less than keen on reciprocating that respect.

    An example being Christians or Muslims who are constantly seeking to attack and undermine the beliefs of atheists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 486.

    @446. Luther_Wesley-Baxter

    Hi Luther , please go on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    How very disingenuous! This debate is about controlling national discourse, not liberty of conscience. And if it is, then why is the Cardinal not petitioning the Pope to allow good, caring Catholics the right to 'exercise their consciences' when it comes to abortion, birth control, charity work in AIDS-affected areas and so on.

    I guess that's a different matter. Or something.

    Baffling, really!

  • Comment number 484.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 483.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    We live in a country where everyone is supposed to be equal under the law. So why do some employers object to someone wearing a cross?
    If other faiths can wear items expressing their religious beliefs then so should Christians, to persecute just one faith is bigotry. And I have yet to hear a Muslim, Hindu or Jew complain about someone wearing a cross.

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    Why does government just let people choose whether or not they want to wear a religous symbol instead of micro managing peoples lives into what 'they' think they should do. I have a brain like everyone else & can make may own mind up as to what I should or shouldn't do but ministers seem to think we cannot think and therefore should be herded into doing something. It's all about control & power

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.


    But....everyone has the opportunity to believe in Jesus and therefore go to heaven. Therefore, it is not prejudice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    As a Pagan I wear my pentagram (5 pointed star, as opposed to the 6 pointed Star of David) at all times. If I were asked to remove it for a job, I'd leave the job. I've had it taped to me during surgery, as it is part of my identity. Christians should have the right to wear their crosses if they so wish - it's a free country, and it doesn't offend anyone - unless they WISH to be offended.

  • Comment number 478.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    Those who wish to dismiss the cross and want to see it denigrated are welcome to move to Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or Syria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    As some comments have said, get a tattoo. I have a cross tattooed on me so I always have the symbol of my faith with me wherever I go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    "# 426 SmegSlayer
    Religion was simply a way of interpreting the wonder of the natural world & the formation of society before scientific evidence"

    Even if you're right, it's the cloak used by megalomaniacs throughout history, and still used today, resulting in the often brutal deaths of millions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    If we object to the burkha or turbans then why should we accept the x being stuck in our faces. Religion should be a private matter not a commercialised business. It should be all or none - and I think none is the safest and most correct way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    Christianity (or other religions for that matter) aren't being marginalised, they are however being subject to the logical and intelligent scrutiny that's only right and proper in a free society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.

    If wearing a religious symbol was merely to show pride fine but crosses/headscarves/yamulkas etc are there as a reminder to other people that the wearer is telling you that your beliefs are wrong and that their religion has a 'right' to dominate you....No symbols and a secular state where all religion is private and not imposed is the only humanistic sensible way....go home and pray Mr Cardinal !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    #417 "Some people are asked to follow dress codes in certain circumstances as part of their contract of employment"

    And this is the problem. Employers will allow some religions to wear outward signs of their religion (turbans for example) but then ban the wearing of a cross on the basis one is a "requirement" of the religion and another is not. Christianity is penalised for not being strict

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    I'm an 18 year old Catholic who has been wearing a cross for many years. I don't wear a cross because I want to advertise my religion. Instead, for me, it is a personal reminder of the values I want to try and live my life by everyday. It may not be a "requirement of my religion" but it matters deeply to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    323. Sports Addict
    Unless you put Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot on the non religious planet where they belong

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    The foreign catholic church always gets priority from the BBC, over the UK's CofE. You wait, the pope's mutterings will be higher up the news agenda and more coverage than the AoC. Henry VIII and successors, dealt with the problem once. Now we have islam as well as a problem.


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