Bishop Philip Egan has called for Catholics to “lead the new evangelisation of our land” in a hard-hitting Easter sermon at Portsmouth cathedral.

Bishop Egan said “two dangerous ideologies” were battling for power in our time, just as communism and fascism had fought each other in the 20th century.

The first ideology is “fundamentalism, religion without reason”, Bishop Egan said. This fundamentalism, which “breeds fanaticism, violence, terrorism”, is affecting not only “the volatile nations of the Middle East”, but also the West, he said.

The second ideology, the bishop argued, is secularism, which equates to “reason without religion” and which is trying to drive religion out of public life.

He said: “Egged on by Stonewall and others, secularists are on the rise in local government, in education, in the media, in the social services.” He said that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the European Court of Justice had helped to push this secularist agenda.

In a possible reference to a European court ruling allowing employers to ban religious symbols, Bishop Egan said: “Hell-bent on burying the Christian patrimony of this land, they propose Orwellian changes to our language and place ever more draconian restrictions on religious expression, even on what we wear.”

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