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 847.

    Christianity is the UK`s foundation,if it is`nt then scrap christmas holiday`s.I have no problem with others wearing the cross or any other faith group celebrating their faith.I am not very religious but i like christmas but here in the UK ,the feel of it has been ruined.Even the father christmas celebration is dumbed down now and tv is just dead to christmas now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 846.

    I think Roman Catholic Church should stop symbolising faith and show some real faith.

  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    836.markdoncaster included in the drivel you wrote, you wrote this:

    "atheists also can't prove there isn't a creator either."


    Proving something DOESN'T exist is daft.

    Now go find me God's address & phone no. or shut up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    The hypocracy of this attempt to create false anger where there should be no argument is shameful.Christians are not being discrimanted against in this country and to chooose such a banal but potentially inflamatory symbolic image is poor indeed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    Why this fixation on symbols and superficiality? As many have said, those of faith should demonstrate their belief through their actions, provided that they do not hide behind their religion's tenets to oppress or vilify those who choose a lifestyle of which they disapprove. Everyone deserves respect no matter what name they choose for their god, or if they choose no name or no god.

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    There are some very interesting comments on here from both sides.

    Can I suggest that believers pray for non-believers becuse they believe prayer works.

    Can I suggest to non-believers that according to science there is no free will to believe or not to believe, so don't blame the belivers. Every atom in the universe and every thought in every head in all of history is / was predetermined.

  • rate this

    Comment number 841.

    Poor Christians being persecuted in their own Christian country *rolls eyes*

  • rate this

    Comment number 840.

    I'm quite comfortable with my Christianity and have no desire to flaunt it by wearing a badge

    Catholicism is one of the original religions, has been going for around 2000 years, has a billion followers, and has seen off the Roman Empire, the British Empire, been right through the dark ages and seen off Communism

    He really shouldn't be defensive, he's a member of a pretty amazing organisation

  • rate this

    Comment number 839.

    817. Commrade_Dave

    '... folk are moving on and do not need religion to explain the big mysteries of life as we have Science to do that for us.'

    Science has done much good, but has also brought us eugenics and thalidomide -- to name just two of its cruel manifestations. If you are really eager to reject religion, don't deify science in its place!

  • rate this

    Comment number 838.

    814.Mike Clench

    Is this man trying to start a religiouse conflict in the UK?


    Maybe to deflect from the FACT that many of the priests of the Roman church have been sexually assaulting boys?

  • rate this

    Comment number 837.

    822. Ady

    Britain hates religion but British workers, ESPECIALLY British government workers, are religious fundamentalists when it comes to taking the full whack of Christian holidays.
    Except, Ady in an act of religious and cultural vandalism the Christian festivals were chosen to be on dates of, previous, Pagan festivals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 836.

    Even scientists agree the universe can't be created from nothing or explain how the billions of possibilities in the universe are tuned exactly right just for life to exist,just 1 little thing different like gravity less strong and we wouldn't be ere. Its like winning the lotto every week for billions of years.

    CHANCE i think not!

    atheists also can't prove there isn't a creator either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 835.

    Ok, here is a novel idea let everyone wear the symbols of their own religion. simple.
    Treat all religions with the same tolerance, if you stop christians wearing the cross then stop Jews wearing the kippah and Sikhs wearing the turban and muslim woman wearing the burkah or hijab, etc. otherwise its state sanctioned discrimination based on religion,and fire Lynne Featherbrain MP for sheer stupidity

  • rate this

    Comment number 834.

    Ady - That is the weakest argument I have ever heard put forward in favour of religion. 'If all else fails, bring up the holidays!' Apart from the fact that the enjoyment of days off work and religion have very little to do with each other, the dates and holidays for us go all the way back to pagan times, so you argument is null and void. Opinions are worth nothing if they are not informed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 833.

    Say what you like about the relative merits of the likes of Islam and Judaeism, it's Roman Catholicism that wins hands down when it comes to merchandising. Only Buddhism gets remotely close: they have a rather limited line but are close to tying up a sponsorship deal with Michelin. . .

  • rate this

    Comment number 832.

    824 Even Science is proving the less we got in the Universe is tangible matters of ours (5%)..

    Well if science ever proves byond reasonable doubt that God is behind it all I will change my views, however if it proves he doesn't exist, will you change yours?

  • rate this

    Comment number 831.

    The trouble is that Christians are being pushed out by other religions where members of their congregations are more pro-active.This government does not stand up for Christianity either. If people want to wear a cross to show that they are Christians, fine and employers need to acknowledge that. I hope that they will also behave like Christians in their attitude towards others who are not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 830.


    Childish god of the gaps nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 829.

    The amount of time, energy and money expended on this subject is obscene.

    I am sure murdering robbing rapes and other crimes should merit the greater attention so that we may become better focused on what the real problems are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 828.

    820. Ian Jardine - You've got Richard Dawkins, amongst others, 'flaunting it' for atheism.


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