In a bizarre conversation, Murphy-O’Connor demonstrates a Catholic version of open-mindedness: human beings must have a sense of the transcendent, and must search for god. And those atheists? “Not fully human“.
It’s not that unusual a sentiment, and I’ve heard it often. Usually it’s not said as directly; most often, the phrase is that “religion is a human universal,” or some such nonsense. It’s not often announced that I don’t qualify as a member of their species.
There is a temptation to agree with them, I’m afraid: the idea that I’m a post-human mutant bestowed with the super-powers of reason and the ability to see through superstition is flattering. But it’s not true. Everyone has those powers, it’s just that some of us have had the good fortune and a history of experience that allows us to shake off some indoctrination. Nothing more.
Also, the Cardinal’s statements are the kind of thing you’d expect from a Catholic theocracy trying to politely rationalize why they’ve put up a row of stakes in front of the cathedral.