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 747.

    If the christians are so certain of the truth of their religious superstitions, why do they feel the need to advertise the "fact" with jewellery?

  • Comment number 746.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    With all the bad publicity the Catholic Church has had, the Cardinal should concentrate on telling Christians to live a good moral life.
    Jesus didn't tell his followers to wear particular clothes or symbols as far as I know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    knowtourrights #691...."If you do wrong in this country you go to court and hand on the bible "everything i say is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth""..............
    I suggest you knowyourrights before making such inaccurate comments, please :o)

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    The man in the funny hat and the bling talks of 'national conversation', sure its a conversation we should be having, should we be wearing symbols representing human sacrifce, in the 21st century? The real debate is, should we allow, in a maturing society and culture, symbols of any religion in public? I think he has bigger issues globally with his faith denying family planning in the third world

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.

    "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.

    of course it does. Its the fertility festival of the Phonecian goddess Astarte. It is a rite of spring celebrated by pagans long before Jesus ever set foot on the Earth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    "I wonder how many atheists and secularists will be campaigning against Mr Livingstone and his Islamic beacon vision for London."

    my last comment and 9 of you have rated it down.

    I can only conclude all religions are not equal....or your to scared of some?

    You attack a little cross but wont challenge Mr Livingstone and his clear religious agenda.... very interesting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    #675. @evidence_over_argument
    "Making it illegal to wear a cross / other discreet symbol would definitely be persecution."
    You would be forgiven reading the above article to conclude that there is a powerful lobby pushing for the prohibition of the wearing of religious symbols. Fear not, it is only the religious playing their so-loved 'persecution' card. It is an implication without substence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    Whilst i think that anyone should be able to wear any religious symbol if it doesn't affect them doing their job, i think if an employer has a 'no jewelery' rule then christians should not be getting any special treatment allowing them to wear a cross if another person cannot wear their non-religious jewelry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    Many who don't have the slightest faith in God or Jesus wear a cross simply as a fashion statement. Add to that the fact that the cross is actually a pagan symbol that predates christianity - if you don't believe it just pay a visit to the British Museum. So, if you want to demonstrate your faith in Christ, how much better to simply lead a Christian life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    Believing in the One and only Creator is every Human beings obligation and wearing the Cross as a sign of submission to God's Will who shade His Son's Blood on the Cross for Our Sin is the list we have to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    As a Jedi (as stated on my census form) I proudly walk around with my lightsaber swinging from my hip. I see no problem whatsoever with Christians wearing crosses or people who believe in the Easter Bunny wearing T-shirts with an image of the great Bugs Bunny himself on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    Hey ... we're atheists ... we have no tatty old books filled with rules we largely ignore until we find one or two that suit our purpose. We are, therefore, entitled to be as rude as we wish. The bible, on the other hand, is chock full of rules about not being horrid to, or killing others. Perhaps there should a law that insists all such passages are marked with fluorescent highlighters

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    As a Catholic man myself, I find this Cardinal to be ridiculous. I think our religion is weakened when our "spiritual leaders" are more concerned with our physical appearances than with our behavior and treatment of others. Instead of speaking about hanging gold and silver from our necks, why not show your "Christianity" by teaching an illiterate man to read or giving food to the hungry???

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    To those believing they are pro-equality, pro-free speech and posting vitriolic comments about Christianity and Christians, think carefully about what you are writing: think how your comment would look and read if you applied it to a faith pre-dating Christianity. Imagine your post with 'Judaism' replacing 'Christianity' and 'Jews' replacing 'Christians'. Are you really such haters?

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    "It is almost impossible to buy some items of clothing without having to display the manufacturers brand. I object to this but can do nothing to change it"

    Yeah, you can - don't buy that stuff.

    I own a full wardrobe, and there's barely a logo in the lot - and certainly nothing that jumps out as "brand advertising".

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    As a free thinking liberal (and atheist), if someone wants to display a symbol of their ignorance, i'm cool with that. Good luck to you i say.

    However this cynical exercise has a pungent aroma of desperation about it. The sense of fear in O'Brien, as his church slowly looses its (once unrivalled) ability to influence the state and society, is palpable. He's attempting to play divide and conquer..

  • Comment number 730.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    And so he wades in yet again. Wearing a cross doesn't make you a Christian. If you want to wear one then it's okay to wear one discreetly. It's not about showing off, it's about doing good. I believe that Jesus told us to take up our cross, not parade around with it. He needs to remember that the priests that abused children were no doubt wearing a cross. Something to think about.

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    A few of my views:
    1. I dont like the Cardinal or what he stands for. He is a divisive person who promotes Catholic views re gay marriage, maintaining apartheid schooling in Scotland, and even on football teams.
    2. I am athiest and generally no time for religious bodies of any sort
    3. However, I dont get upset if someone wears a cross or some other relgious symbol.
    4. The UK


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