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Baroness Warsi to give Benedict XVI Lecture

By on Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Benedict XVI greets Britain's Baroness Sayeeda Warsi at the Vatican in February 2012 (CNS)

Benedict XVI greets Britain's Baroness Sayeeda Warsi at the Vatican in February 2012 (CNS)

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Government’s minister for faith and communities, will give the second Benedict XVI Lecture in London on December 2.

Lady, who met with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, when he visited the UK in June 2013, will speak on the topic of ‘Freedom of Religion in the Public and Private Sphere’.

The lecture, that will be held at the University of Notre Dame, is to be chaired by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and will be followed by a question and answer session.

Last week Lady Warsi said in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington DC that she fears Christians face becoming “extinct” in large parts of the world and called for a “cross-faith, cross-continent” response to the problem of persecution.

Speaking to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, she said: “There are huge advantages to having pluralistic societies – everything from the economy to the way people develop educationally, and therefore we all have an interest in making sure that Christian communities do continue to feel that they belong and are not persecuted in the places where this religion was born.”

Earlier this month Lady Warsi, a former chairman of the Conservative party, claimed that the Coalition Government was one of the “most pro-faith governments in the West.” She told an audience at the Churchill Archives at the University of Cambridge that public policy had been “secularised” under New Labour and that Sir Winston Churchill and Baroness Thatcher would have been in agreement with the Coalition’s pledge to protect the right of town halls to hold prayer meetings.

In February 2012 Lady Warsi led a delegation of six UK ministers on a visit to the Vatican, where she gave a speech in which she criticised “intolerant secularism” and met with former pope, Benedict XVI. She previously met the Pope Emeritus at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham during his historic state visit to the UK.