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Bullets in the post Cardinal’s secular attack

A Scottish cleric who was sent bullets in the post by a group claiming to be the Protestant Action Force, made one of his most controversial speeches to date yesterday.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the Catholic Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, gave a sermon on what he called "aggressive secularism" at an Easter Sunday Mass.

Cardinal O’Brien, who opened a letter containing a bullet and letter headed "No Surrender" ahead of the Pope’s UK visit last year, told worshippers that Christianity had been marginalised more than ever in modern times.

The priest, who is known in Scotland for his outspoken sermons, said people are being attacked for their Christian beliefs and way of life in what is essentially, he claimed, a secular world.

"Perhaps more than ever before there is that ‘aggressive secularism’ and there are those who would try to destroy our Christian heritage and culture and take God from the public square," said Cardinal O’Brien.

"Religion must not be taken from the public square.

"Recently, various Christians in our society were marginalised and prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs because they were not willing to publicly endorse a particular lifestyle."

The Cardinal sparked controversy across the Atlantic last year when he gave his backing after the Scottish government released Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, and accused America of having a culture of "vengeance and retribution."

In the past he has criticised both the introduction of civil partnerships in the UK and the liberalisation of divorce laws in Scotland.

The controversial cleric only revealed his own brush with sectarianism after police announced they had intercepted bombs on their way to Celtic manager Neil Lennon, lawyer Paul McBride QC and former Scottish politician Trish Godman. It is understood police carried out an investigation into the threat to the Cardinal at the time but were unable to trace those responsible.

Cardinal O’Brien remained adamant he would carry on as normal after the threat by a group using an old cover name for the UVF. "I’m just going on as normal," he said.

"It’s not made any difference to my way of life. I’m just getting on with my work.

"I’m just sad that this sort of thing can and does happen in our country."

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