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Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster commented yesterday on the debate between secularists and believers. He said that the former are “just as dogmatic as the worst religious believer and sometimes more stridently so”.
“Public life is not a neutral place. Everybody comes with their set of values and religion has just as much right to be there as anybody else.
“A secularist is just as dogmatic as the worst religious believer and sometime they are more stridently so.”
The archbishop emphasised the importance of constructive dialogue.
“That means getting away from the sound-bites and getting away from the discussion that is always centered around oppositional conflict.”
Words that seem very logical, but too rarely put into practice. Mudslinging is always easier, of course, because constructive dialogue requires well-thought out arguments and the possibility of having to reconsider one’s ideas. And there are some situations where the parties and the points of view are so opposed to one another that common ground is very hard to find indeed, thus limiting the possibility for dialogue.
Personally, I would think that this may be one such instance, at least when the parties – secular and religious – are both rigid in their points. But I also think that a sensible approach to this can be found in the Catholic Church, which approaches, for example, science and faith – another much-discussed topic – from the angles dedicated by their respective fields of expertise. But that does not mean that within the Church dialogue is abundant and fruitful. On the contrary: Catholics are people too and may often find mudslinging easier and more attractive than considered dialogue. And I can’t exclude myself from that group.
But I hope to be able to remedy that with my blog’s new focus, and walk the fine line between criticism and negativity, with a firm eye set on a hopeful future.