It certainly seems to me to be uncommonly cold for this time of year.
(Thanks to Boilerjuice for that.)
I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life.
Your readiness to do so is already implied in the unprecedented invitation extended to me today. And it finds expression in the fields of concern in which your Government has been engaged with the Holy See. In the area of peace, there have been exchanges regarding the elaboration of an international arms trade treaty; regarding human rights, the Holy See and the United Kingdom have welcomed the spread of democracy, especially in the last sixty-five years; in the field of development, there has been collaboration on debt relief, fair trade and financing for development, particularly through the International Finance Facility, the International Immunization Bond, and the Advanced Market Commitment. The Holy See also looks forward to exploring with the United Kingdom new ways to promote environmental responsibility, to the benefit of all.
I also note that the present Government has committed the United Kingdom to devoting 0.7% of national income to development aid by 2013. In recent years it has been encouraging to witness the positive signs of a worldwide growth in solidarity towards the poor. But to turn this solidarity into effective action calls for fresh thinking that will improve life conditions in many important areas, such as food production, clean water, job creation, education, support to families, especially migrants, and basic healthcare. Where human lives are concerned, time is always short: yet the world has witnessed the vast resources that governments can draw upon to rescue financial institutions deemed “too big to fail”. Surely the integral human development of the world’s peoples is no less important: here is an enterprise, worthy of the world’s attention, that is truly “too big to fail”.It is no surprise that when it came down to specific areas of government policy, the fields that the Pope wished to speak about were the fairly uncontroversial areas of
“This overview of recent cooperation between the United Kingdom and the Holy See illustrates well how much progress has been made, in the years that have passed since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, in promoting throughout the world the many core values that we share. I hope and pray that this relationship will continue to bear fruit, and that it will be mirrored in a growing acceptance of the need for dialogue and respect at every level of society between the world of reason and the world of faith. I am convinced that, within this country too, there are many areas in which the Church and the public authorities can work together for the good of citizens, in harmony with this Parliament’s historic practice of invoking the Spirit’s guidance upon those who seek to improve the conditions of all mankind. For such cooperation to be possible, religious bodies – including institutions linked to the Catholic Church – need to be free to act in accordance with their own principles and specific convictions based upon the faith and the official teaching of the Church. In this way, such basic rights as religious freedom, freedom of conscience and freedom of association are guaranteed. ”Having spoken about relations between the UK and the Vatican, the Pope returned the theme of the necessity of “dialogue between the world of reason and the world of faith”. Personally, I think that this is an odd thing to say, as it implies that these are two different worlds - and possibly even that it is not possible to be a person of both reason and faith. I can see Richard Dawkins taking the view that if you have faith, then you are irrational, but I know the Pope doesn’t, so I think that he could have chosen his words better.
“As I speak to you in this historic setting, I think of the countless men and women down the centuries who have played their part in the momentous events that have taken place within these walls and have shaped the lives of many generations of Britons, and others besides. In particular, I recall the figure of Saint Thomas More, the great English scholar and statesman, who is admired by believers and non-believers alike for the integrity with which he followed his conscience, even at the cost of displeasing the sovereign whose “good servant” he was, because he chose to serve God first. The dilemma which faced More in those difficult times, the perennial question of the relationship between what is owed to Caesar and what is owed to God, allows me the opportunity to reflect with you briefly on the proper place of religious belief within the political process.”Thomas More was a faithful Catholic and a man of courage and principle, as depicted in the film A Man for all Seasons. But that is not all that he was. Thomas More was also a firm believer in the burning of heretics.
This country’s Parliamentary tradition owes much to the national instinct for moderation, to the desire to achieve a genuine balance between the legitimate claims of government and the rights of those subject to it. While decisive steps have been taken at several points in your history to place limits on the exercise of power, the nation’s political institutions have been able to evolve with a remarkable degree of stability. In the process, Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law. While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good.In his third paragraph, the Pope considers the limits of state power, and says that “decisive steps have been taken at several points in [Britain’s] history to place limits on the exercise of power,” and this is something that he seems to approve of - as do libertarians, of course. There is more common ground with libertarians here: the Pope used the word “freedom” twice in this paragraph - and freedom was to be a major theme in the address, as he was to use the word a further five times. He spoke of Britain as “as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law.” That sums up our political tradition well, and this is something that libertarians are happy with.
“There is widespread agreement that the lack of a solid ethical foundation for economic activity has contributed to the grave difficulties now being experienced by millions of people throughout the world. Just as “every economic decision has a moral consequence” (Caritas in Veritate, 37), so too in the political field, the ethical dimension of policy has far-reaching consequences that no government can afford to ignore. A positive illustration of this is found in one of the British Parliament’s particularly notable achievements – the abolition of the slave trade. The campaign that led to this landmark legislation was built upon firm ethical principles, rooted in the natural law, and it has made a contribution to civilization of which this nation may be justly proud.”It is about what we believe is right and wrong. And I suppose nobody is going to disagree. All political philosophy follows from beliefs about what is right and what is wrong. Libertarians, or example, believe that it is wrong for the state to deny people certain basic freedoms. Slavery, which the Pope mentioned, is an example of something that libertarians believe is wrong.
“In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none.”By the way, living, as I do, in a country where Christmas was not a public holiday until 1958, I can’t see why any Christian would be worried about whether or not we publicly celebrate Christmas. Scotland was at least as Christian in the first half of the 20th century as it is today.
“And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square.”I’m not quite sure what the Pope meant when he spoke of Christians in public roles being required at times to act against their conscience. What does he mean by “acting against their conscience?” I suspect that he doesn’t mean doing something illegal or dishonest - but rather something that a Christian might believe is wrong, but that would be regarded by most people in Britain as quite acceptable. Employers have rights, too - and that should include the right to dismiss people who are not doing their job properly. A Christian who doesn’t like it should find alternative work. The problem arises when it is difficult to find alternative work - because one employer has a virtual monopoly in certain fields. And that situation most often arises when the employer is the state. If the roll of the state in modern Britain was rolled back, discrimination against Christians would cease to be a problem - and freedom would be extended.
We, the undersigned, share the view that Pope Ratzinger should not be given the honour of a state visit to this country. We believe that the pope, as a citizen of Europe and the leader of a religion with many adherents in the UK, is of course free to enter and tour our country. We reject the masquerading of the Holy See as a state and the pope as a head of state as merely a convenient fiction to amplify the international influence of the Vatican.But they seem to be saying "If he held progressive opinions, we wouldn't have a problem with the Pope being accorded the honour of a state visit*, but we really don't like the Roman Catholic Church and its beliefs - and it has made some major mistakes in the past - so we think that a state visit is inappropriate."
"The new system incorporates a 9.9 kWp PV [photovoltaic] system, three hydro generation systems (totalling 112 kW) and a 24 kW wind farm supported by stand-by diesel generation and batteries to guarantee continuous availability of power. A load management system has been installed to provide optimal use of the renewables. This combination of solar, wind and hydro power should provide a network that is self sufficient and powered 98% from renewable sources. The system was switched on, on 1 February 2008."You will note that the 'renewable' sources are able to produce, in theory, 146 kilowatts. The two diesel generators are able to produce 160 kilowatts - 80 each.
"You only have to look around you here on Eigg to see what the community here has managed to achieve - a 32% reduction in carbon emissions in just one year. That's remarkable when you consider that the Scottish government's target for 2020 is a 42% reduction."A few months later, it's not quite so rosy. The doubters have long been asking the question - what if the wind doesn't blow? And in Eigg, it didn't. It didn't even rain much, which meant that there wasn't enough water for hydro-electric generation to take place.
-Government spending will be £637bn in 2010/11That compares with an estimate for £631 bn for 2009/10, and an actual figure of £575 bn for 2008/09 (according to UK Public Spending).
-Government spending will be £711bn in 2015/16
The situation in Londonderry in January 1972 was serious. By this stage the nationalist community had largely turned against the soldiers, many believing that the Army, as well as the RUC, were agents of an oppressive regime. Parts of the city to the west of the Foyle lay in ruins, as the result of the activities of the IRA and of rioting young men (some members of the IRA or its junior wing, the Fianna) known to soldiers and some others as the “Derry Young Hooligans”. A large part of the nationalist area of the city was a “no go” area, which was dominated by the IRA, where ordinary policing could not be conducted and where even the Army ventured only by using large numbers of soldiers.In other words, the city was being slowly destroyed. Which, I suppose meant that the police and the army couldn't stand back and do nothing. But they were also viewed as agents of an oppressive regime, so anything they tried to do was likely to further inflame feelings.
In our view the organisers of the civil rights march bear no responsibility for the deaths and injuries on Bloody Sunday. Although those who organised the march must have realised that there was probably going to be trouble from rioters, they had no reason to believe and did not believe that this was likely to result in death or injury from unjustified firing by soldiers.The march had been banned. The organisers of the march - the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) - decided however, to go ahead, knowing that there would probably be trouble, and that a number of people who would participate in the march would be looking for trouble. So they expected trouble - and must bear some responsibility for it. Nevertheless, they can hardly be blamed in any way for the deaths that took place. However, I found myself wishing that they had never bothered organising the march.