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Church's Labour rebuke 'dangerous'

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has been criticised for "dangerous" interfering after he chose to attack the previous government.

The Most Rev Vincent Nichols rebuked the Labour administration for attempting to "create a state that provided everything".

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he also praised the new coalition Government for its "fresh attitude".

The National Secular Society (NSS) which campaigns against religious influence in public and political life said the Archbishop's comments were "deeply undesirable".

NSS president Terry Sanderson said: "It is deeply undesirable for priests to interfere in politics in this way and even more dangerous for politicians to be swayed by unrepresentative and self-serving religious leaders like Vincent Nichols."

Archbishop Nichols wrote: "We have highlighted the need for society to not fall into the trap of thinking that everything is to be provided and not live by the myth that everything is somebody else's responsibility. In recent years many factors have contributed to a sense that we can leave social problems to be solved by the Government.

"In some ways this sense was created by the last administration which had, in practice, too strong an overarching view of how our society should be. In attempting to create a state that provided everything, it ended up losing touch with the people it was trying to serve."

He went on the attack the Labour government for the way it had treated the Catholic Church and faith groups in general.

He explained: "I think the last Government required quite a high degree of conformity to its own theories and principles and practices. And if they clashed with those of a faith community then either the partnership came to an end or the faith group had to conform."

But Mr Sanderson said the idea that Labour was unsympathetic to religion was "laughable". He explained: "Under Blair, Labour caved in over faith school quotas, and gave Catholic adoption agencies a grace period to come in line with the law. Nichols clearly wants even more subservience. Mass attendance has halved in the last generation and even most Catholics take the hard line doctrine Nichols pushes with a pinch of salt."


From Belfast Telegraph