Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster

Cardinal Vincent Condemns Sexual Violence in Warfare

Cardinal Vincent addressed the Inter-faith Consultation Conference at Lancaster House on 9 February on the theme of 'mobilising faith communities in ending sexual violence in conflict'. 

In his address, the Cardinal called the use of sexual violence in warfare a 'deliberate and ordered tactic of oppression, domination, destruction'.

He said that 'war is no excuse' and that 'a crime is a crime, whether committed in the context of conflict or not. And sexual violence is always a crime; it is always an immoral act.'

He explained that  'a fundamental aspect of Catholic teaching about sex is that sexual acts must always take place within the context of authentic freedom'.  It is on these grounds that 'the Church wholeheartedly backs every initiative to prevent sexual violence being perpetrated against anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances'. 

Cardinal Vincent recognised 'the work carried out by many religiously motivated people in the fight against sexual violence in warfare'.

He continued, 'I salute especially the work of religious sisters, in many countries, who for decades have dedicated themselves to this work, without seeking reward or praise. They do so as part of their commitment to justice in our world today. And we are richer for their efforts, along with the efforts of many others, too. This enterprising work generates the kind of wealth without which our world cannot survive. They are, in my view, at the top of the world's rich list!'

He also noted that within our 'God-given dignity, the right to life itself and the right to bodily integrity are fundamental, as first gifts of the Creator, as is the right to religious freedom within which we express and develop our relationship with the Creator'.

The full address is available here.

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