Thursday, February 25, 1999 Published at 11:20 GMT
Churchman's dome warning
Cardinal Hume: One moment in time
A rift is growing between political and religious leaders over the content of the UK's New Year's Eve celebrations at the Millennium Dome in London.
But Culture Secretary Chris Smith has accused Cardinal Basil Hume of "expressing unnecessary worries" about the celebrations.
It is thought Lord Falconer will be asked about fears from the cardinal that the celebrations will amount to little more than a "commercial extravaganza".
Cardinal Hume told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey should lead the nation in a televised prayer just before midnight on 31 December 1999.
The cardinal's warning echoes that of Dr Carey, who warned in this week's Catholic Herald that he would not attend the dome party if it was not connected with the birth of Christ.
"The year 2000 marks the birth of Jesus Christ, so that is of great concern to Christians," he said.
But it was relevant to other people too: "We're celebrating a very significant moment of time and we who live in time should in fact concentrate out our minds on Him who's outside time.
"Now this can unite all religions who accept that there is someone or something beyond the here and now."
He understood that the opening night would include the reading of an all-faiths affirmation.
Cardinal Hume said although that was important, it did not go far enough: "It doesn't mention God and it doesn't mention Jesus Christ."
Asked whether his demands were appropriate in a diverse society, the cardinal said they were not just for religious people.
It was "a moment when eternity and our present time meet" which could "unite all sorts of people, even people who have the vaguest kind of spiritual aspirations within them".