Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Faith, hope and charity

There has been much debate recently over Ruth Kelly's recent appointment as Minister for Equality and the compatibility of such office with her widely publicised Catholicism. The question that has arisen is that, given that the Catholic Church is very clear in her condemnation of homosexuality, and given that Ruth Kelly is a devout Catholic and supernumerary of Opus Dei, how can she perform her governmental function as champion of gay rights and equality?

To those commentators who are calling for her to be disbarred from holding this office, I would say this: is this truly the path we wish to go down? Surely, the state is secular and must remain blind to an individual's personal beliefs and religion when selecting her representatives. For so long as a minister is competent to perform their role, it is not up to the government to consider how they might feel about doing so. To discriminate against public servants on the grounds of their privately held views sets a dangerous precedent, as demonstrated by the European Parliament's decision to oust Rocco Buttiglione for having the moral courage to publicly declare his disapproval of homosexuality based upon his faith. If we continued along this route, then surely no Catholic could work in any hospital in which abortions were carried out, no Muslim could work in the Treasury (which derives significant income from sources prohibited under Shari'ah law, such as the sale of alcohol), no animal rights sympathiser could work for the NHS (which routinely procures and prescribes drugs which have been tested on animals), and ... you get the point.

To Ruth Kelly, on the other hand, I would say that if you really believe in the truth and integrity of the Catholic faith and in its teachings, (including the doctrine that practising homosexuality is a sin), how can you, in all conscience, defy your God and your Church in order to further your political career?

Sadly, the conclusion I am forced to draw is that Ruth Kelly has at this crucial moral moment chosen to ignore her faith in the hope that her electorate and her God will have the charity to ignore such blatant hypocrisy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You don't see a distinction between thinking that something is a sin and thinking it should be illegal?

Adultery is a sin. Should Christian politicians be demanding the prosecution of John Prescott for breaking his marriage vows?

It seems to me to be entirely in order (and entirely sensible) to believe firmly that adultery is a sin, and to also believe that consenting adults' legal rights to get naked together should not be affected by whether or not they are married. Why do you think that homosexuality is special in this regard?

10:53 pm  
Blogger Tim J said...

I think the point is that, if Ruth Kelly adheres to the teachings of the church, which as a member of Opus Dei one assumes she must, the she must regard homosexuality as a sin.

In this light, although it would be entirely wrong to make her ineligible for the post as a result of her belief, that belief should make her make herself ineligible.

Her current job involves the promotion of homosexuality as a valid alternative lifestyle. Personally I couldn't give a monkeys about this, but catholics have views. As such, surely she shouldn't have taken the job?

Liam Fox specifically said that he could never be Health Secretary as his views on abortion would make him unable to pursue a policy he felt to be a sin. Isn't this the same?

11:21 pm  
Blogger Token Bird said...

Anonymous - I apologise for causing you confusion. If you re-read my posting, you will see that at no point did I ever state that anyone who thinks a particular act is a sin must by definition think it should be illegal. This view has been put forward by other commentators who feel that Ms Kelly should resign, as they say that her personal beliefs are likely to impact upon how she carries out her public office.

I was not commenting on Ms Kelly's competence to act as Minister for Equality. The point I was trying to make is that whilst an individual's personal beliefs should not influence whether or not they can be appointed into a particular office, it might affect their own decision as to whether they should take that job.

Ms Kelly, as has been widely publicised, is a member of Opus Dei. She is therefore bound by her faith and by her membership of that sect, not only to adhere rigourously to the tenets of the Catholic faith, but also to promote these principles in all aspects of her life. The Catholic church is very clear in its condemnation of the homosexual act and is equally clear that Catholics have an obligation not to encourage it.

Ms Kelly's task of promoting gay rights as Minister of Equality is in clear conflict with the duties imposed upon her as a Catholic and as a supernumerary of Opus Dei.

Whilst I believe that so long as she does her job well, she has every right to remain there, I question her moral integrity because she has chosen to ignore her faith to advance her career.

10:45 am  

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