Williams attacks exclusion of RE in his final Easter sermon

Outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury and Catholic leaders take on highly charged political subjects

Religious leaders seemed to compete with each other yesterday over who could deliver the most politically charged Easter sermon as they continued to promote debate about the role of faith in public life.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, used his last Easter message before his retirement this year to attack what he called the downgrading of religious education.

The man being touted as his successor, Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, publicly baptised people on the steps of York Minister in what has become something of an annual tradition in the city under his leadership.

Senior Catholics delivered similarly political homilies, with one calling on Christians to wear crucifixes, and another using a media interview to restate the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage.

In an Easter message last week, David Cameron welcomed what he described as a renewed willingness by faith communities to engage in a "fightback". But his speech concerned secularists and gay rights groups who fear the Prime Minister may backtrack on a commitment to support gay marriage.

Dr Williams, speaking at Canterbury Cathedral yesterday, criticised the Government for not including religious education as a subject counting towards the English baccalaureate, an alternative to A-levels which is being offered by more and more schools.

The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, urged his followers to "proudly" wear a cross to display their faith.

His counterpart in England and Wales, Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, gave an interview to Sky News in which he attacked plans to make civil marriage available to gay men and women.

Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, said last night: "The churches are in revivalist mode and are stopping at nothing to stem their haemhorraging support and boost their power.

"To do so they are inventing persecution, threatening the Government, rewriting history and even persecuting an oppressed minority – gay people."

WHAT THEY SAID: EASTER MESSAGES

Archbishop Rowan Williams: "There is plenty to suggest that younger people, while still statistically deeply unlikely to be churchgoers, don't have the hostility to faith that one might expect, but at least share some ... sense that there is something here to take seriously."

Cardinal Keith O'Brien: "I hope that increasing numbers of Christians adopt the practice of wearing a cross in a simple and discreet way as a symbol of their beliefs. A simple lapel cross pin costs around £1 . Since this is less than a chocolate Easter egg I hope many people will consider giving some as a gifts and wearing them with pride."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols: "We have legal protection for the shape of marriage that has served society very well ... for centuries and, quite frankly, we really don't see why it's important to change that."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket