Friday, March 21, 2008

The Scotsman has a refreshing interview with Most Rev Dr Idris Jones, Primus of the Episcopal Church in Scotland:

Q: Today is Good Friday – what do you think the Easter story means to people today?

A: What I hope it would mean to people was that Christians can share with people a sense of hope, that it's possible to turn round even the most difficult situations and find a way of moving through to a good and positive outcome. I would hope that bit of the Christian message might communicate itself through Good Friday.

Q: What did you make of the (Roman Catholic] Bishop of Motherwell's comments last week about the "conspiracy" against the Church by gay campaigners, whom he described as the enemy?

A: That's a view that I do not subscribe to and, in my experience, I have seen no evidence that it is true at all.

Q: What about the fact we had such a high-profile individual making those statements? Is that negative for religion as a whole and how it is perceived?

A: I want to hedge my answer here because I think it must be the case that people have a right to speak from a religious conviction. So if somebody who is representing a particular faith feels they need to speak to a particular situation, they must have the right to do that. I think in this case it was the wrong situation to speak about and it was not the message the whole Christian community would wish to convey.

Q: Also in the press in the last few months was the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments on Sharia law: that it perhaps should be incorporated into UK law. What did you think of that?

A: As I understand it, what the Archbishop of Canterbury was saying was that, just as special provision is made for the recognition of family disputes being settled in Jewish courts, just as it's accepted that the Law Society and the medical profession have their own tribunals for disciplinary affairs – and this is seen as acceptable within the overarching law of the nation – some similar provision should be made to include those of the Muslim community. I don't think that's at all exceptional.

It's important if we're going to have an integrated community that all sections of the community feel they have been recognised and heard, and one way of doing that would be to see if it's possible to incorporate some of this special area of family decision-making within the overarching law of the land. But there can only be one law and that is the law of the land and that cannot be diluted or compromised in any way.

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