Shifting sands or stumbling blocks? Ethical foundations in a pluralist society

Mackinlay, Shane The opening of the legal year is marked by many events, including a range of religious celebrations. These celebrations are part of a long tradition, dating back nearly eight hundred years. The first religious ceremony recorded as marking the start of the legal year was a Mass celebrated in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in 1245. Then, it would have been a completely obvious thing to do, as it was unquestioned that those holding civic authority did so only because it had been entrusted to them from God, and that they exercised it on his behalf. A range of powerful symbols made this relation very evident. The religious character of weighty ceremonies such as coronations was complemented by the integral place of faith in the broader culture; religious belief was not so much chosen as an expression of individual commitment, but was simply one characteristic among many others of national culture and identity.
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