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Cardinal Vincent Nichols: Atheists who throw stones are obstacles to social cohesion
The leader of Catholics in England and Wales says those without faith who "pick up stones to throw at things they don't understand" are a bigger obstacle to social cohesion than people of faith.
Speaking to Premier Christianity magazine, Cardinal Nichols said: "When people think we're a society without much cohesion or mutual understanding and that's because of the different religious beliefs, they're wrong.
"The real problem lies not between those who believe in God, but between those who do believe in God and others who are puzzled by the whole thing, have never really thought about it and pick up stones to throw at things they don't understand.
"The level of religious illiteracy in this country really is quite considerable and is a real obstacle to social cohesion and sharing of a vision."
Speaking of his friendship with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Cardinal Nichols said "it's a great joy", adding relationships were strong with other faith leaders.
"Recently I was giving evidence to the House of the Lords on civic engagement. I did it sitting with the Chief Rabbi and we could speak with great understanding between us, most of the time making the same points."
Cardinal Nichols made the comments during an interview about his latest book Hope in Action which deals with social issues including rehabilitation for prisoners and ending human trafficking.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols described modern slavery as "a great evil" and said the Catholic Church in particular "has an important role to play" in ending it, because the Church has "a worldwide structure and network".
"The Metropolitan Police commissioner was asked by a rather cynical journalist: 'Why on earth are the police working with the Catholic Church?' He said: "Look, human trafficking is a global evil network. The Catholic Church is a global network for good. If I can get these two confronting each other we have a huge ally in this work against this terrible crime."
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