Religion must be given a greater role in public life to push back a wave of “intolerant secularisation”, a Cabinet Minister is telling the Vatican during an official visit.
Baroness Warsi, a Muslim, wants Europe to become “more confident in its Christianity” in a strident defence of faith backed by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The peer is leading a high-level two-day delegation of seven British Ministers to the Holy See, including three of her Cabinet colleagues, which has been granted an audience with the Pope today.
In the first speech to staff and students of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy by an outside minister, she compared the intolerance of religion with totalitarian regimes.
“In order to encourage social harmony, people need to feel stronger in their religious identities, more confident in their beliefs. In practice this means individuals not diluting their faiths and nations not denying their religious heritages,” she said.
“If you take this thought to its conclusion then the idea you’re left with is this: Europe needs to become more confident in its Christianity.”
Speaking amid continued fallout over the High Court ruling that prayers cannot be a formal part of local council meetings, she said it was a myth that to protect minorities “we need to erase our religious heritage”.
Christian roots “shine through our politics, our public life, our culture, our economics, our language and our architecture.
“You cannot and should not extract these Christian foundations from the evolution of our nations any more than you can or should erase the spires from our landscapes.”
She praised the role of the Catholic Church in toppling communism, securing peace in Northern Ireland and responding to world natural disasters.
Spirituality in the United Kingdom and Europe was being suppressed and divinity downgraded. In a newspaper article ahead of the visit she said militant secularisation was deeply intolerant at its core, “denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.”
The visit has been arranged to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the UK and the Holy See.
Defender of all faiths: Page 13.