There seems to be an increasingly vocal minority of what can only be termed secular fundamentalists in the UK who want the Church and other faiths to stay out of politics because they disagree with parts of its agenda. By politics I mean having an influence on policy and being involved in providing services.
Such thinking is not only deeply illiberal (ironic when many of the most passionate advocates of this cause claim strong liberal credentials), it goes against the interests of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world.
Of course, the Church’s history of intervention in state affairs is far from spotless – the Church is at its best when it follows the example of Christ and is a voice from the margins, acting and speaking prophetically about the interests of others. Concern for the most marginalised has been core to the Church’s mission from the birth of the early Church, to quote the Wholly Living report we released last year with Theos and Tearfund:
“The Christian church gained notoriety in the ancient world because during the epidemics that regularly decimated urban areas, it tended not only its own sick but also those who were outside its boundaries. Not without reason did the emperor Julian the Apostate complain, “it is disgraceful when no Jew is a beggar and the impious Galileans [i.e. Christians] support our poor in addition to their own; everyone is able to see that our coreligionists are in want of aid from them.”
Every day we are inspired by incredible stories of our partners, often the local Church, standing up for the rights of others whether that be speaking out against sexual violence and providing safe centres for women in DRC or Father Mauricio Garcia, a tireless peace campaigner and defender of human rights for more than 20 years in Colombia.
CAFOD is firmly committed to supporting people who are poor, whatever their beliefs, to influence those in power. The vast majority of people living in poverty have a deep faith – do these Western ‘liberal’ elites realise they are also denying their rights to be heard?