Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bridges, not walls - Baroness Cox at Newman House

We were honoured to welcome Baroness Caroline Cox today at Newman House as our Sunday Lunch speaker, who spoke to us about 'Reconciliation through Realism' with Islam. Lady Cox, a member of the House of Lords, was described by Fr. Peter as a heroine of our time, and few who heard her speak today could disagree with that.
She initially spoke about the work of the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (, of which she is the Chief Executive, describing in terms of her own experiences the dangers and daily problems and tragedies faced by Christians in certain countries in Africa, and of how so many of our fellow Christians are persecuted simply for their refusal to convert to Islam. Lady Cox has travelled to many countries, often crossing borders illegally, and has witnessed first-hand the suffering of so many people. Her testimony is both shocking and moving, and the situations she described are a far cry from the comfort of student life in London.
Following this, Lady Cox introduced the subject of the risk posed by militant Islam to the world, touching on such issues as the enforced culturalisation of regions such as southern Sudan, the incompatibility of Sharia law with the ideals of human rights and liberties, and the tactics employed by Islamists in their attempts to create a 'new cultural hegemony' using education, politics and legislation.
Many questions followed, during which a range of issues were discussed, including the 'guilt trips' felt by the Western world with regard to Christianity and the misuse of Western foreign policy decisions by militant Islam, deliberately misconstruing them as anti-Islamic Christian offensives.
The talk was without doubt an eye-opener for all those who heard it, and Lady Cox kindly donated some of her books on this subject to the Newman House library - for those who missed the talk, or who would like to know more. She also encourages anyone who is interested to get in touch with her -her email address is
Many thanks indeed on behalf of everyone at the Chaplaincy to Lady Cox, and also to Denis Criado for organising the talk.


Erdal Firinci said...

Dear Baroness Cox,

We are terribly confused with your actions and various speeches. You have delivered a statement in Jerusalem ( and also which was not so friendly to Muslims and now another one ( talking about building bridges not walls! which one is it to be?

We ask you to listen to Muslims too and hope your patience in this regard will be rewarded with a better understanding of Christian-Muslim-Jewish dialogue. It is an understanding that extremist Christians, Muslims or Jews have no part in our peaceful lives, so it should not have in yours. We assume you'll agree with us.

Therefore, could you kindly arrange for us a get together at the House of Lords please, at your convenience? We'll look forward to that.

Kind regards
Erdal Firinci,
for and onbehalf of
British European Turk NGOs
serving the community.. Social Engineering in progress!

Fr Peter Wilson said...

In her talk Lady Cox made a distinction between Islam and Islamists: with the one it is possible to dialogue, with the other it is impossible.

If you are sincere in your request for dialogue, you will find Lady Cox warm and open: she paid tribute to her many Muslim friends and co-workers. But it is important for us to know the truth about the kind of Islam which seeks not dialogue with Christianity but its destruction: the testimony to this is so widespread and indeed spinechilling.

One cannot simply lump together everyone of a particular religion and say all are the same - but one can critique a particular brand and ideology, which Lady Cox was doing here with regard to radical, militant Islamism.

Anonymous said...

is it true that baroness cox recieved Holy Communion at Newman House despite being a Protestant. Ah- the credentials of Aristocracy!!

Fr Peter said...

Baroness Cox did receive Holy Communion "despite being a Protestant" and it has nothing to do with credentials of aristocracy.

She discussed it with me beforehand. The rules of the Catholic Church concerning Holy Communion for non-Catholics are quite clear, and allow for exceptions. The first point is that the person must display their faith in the sacrament as Catholics would understand it. This is true of Lady Cox.

The second is that they are unable to approach a minister of their own ecclesial communion. Since Lady Cox was giving up her Sunday to come to Mass at Newman House, when she would ordinarily have been in her own church, she could not pop out suddenly to receive communion in an Anglican Church. She could have chosen to come and give her talk only - in other words not join us for Mass. Instead she gave up more time than was necessary for her talk alone. In all she spent some 4 hours here. Her presence was a gift to us, not a mere routine church-hopping activity. It was a one-off. I therefore judged, within the boundaries of the law concerning Holy Communion, that this was an occasion which met the criteria.