Pope says that the Equality Bill “violates natural law”

February 2, 2010

Just to pick up on a point I made in passing in my previous post, about the Pope’s attack on the (admittedly poor quality) Equality Bill.

The BBC News website has this to say:

The Pope has faced a backlash after urging Catholic bishops in England and Wales to fight the UK’s Equality Bill with “missionary zeal”.

Pope Benedict XVI said the bill – which could end the right of the Church to ban gay [and transsexual] people from senior positions – “violates natural law”.

[…]

The Pope told the Catholic bishops of England and Wales gathered in Rome: “Your country is well-known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society.

“Yet, as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.”

“In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.”

Peter Tatchell is quoted as saying:

“His ill-informed claim that our equality laws undermine religious freedom suggests that he supports the right of churches to discriminate in accordance with their religious ethos,” he said.

“He seems to be defending discrimination by religious institutions and demanding that they should be above the law.”

And our Prime Minister’s response?

Gordon Brown said he respected the Pope but commenting would be inappropriate.

A stark reminder that those who govern us consider the links between state and religion to be more important than the human rights of the general population.

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7 Responses to “Pope says that the Equality Bill “violates natural law””

  1. earwicga Says:

    Following the Pope’s words on “natural law”, I’ve just read the following:

    “Why is this resolution, as well as other resolutions against discrimination of any kind, so essential for us? Recently, I have been listening to the opinions of leaders of formal and informal groups, football fans and others who, they believe, are simply honouring nature by opposing LGBT people. As I see it, nature is a category not so easily comprehended, and the understanding of it largely depends on the approach to the very notion of nature – dialectics or God’s will. However, the people whom I have mentioned think that it is only natural that women should stay in kitchens, that mentally disturbed people should be restrained, that foreigners should be considered suspicious and that LGBT persons should be beaten.”

    http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/Records/2010/E/1001271000E.htm

  2. harpymarx Says:

    Have been getting over some kind of ear ache-infection malarky (serves me right for standing freezing and soaked to the bone chanting ‘Tony Blair…war criminal’ outside the Iraq Inquiry) so haven’t been reading much and the first thing I see is old Pope Benny spewing reactionary drivel…and this ‘natural law’ rubbish.

    The National Secular Society is organising a protest campaign for when Pope Benny arrives.

    Hallelujah to that…..

  3. Helen G Says:

    harpymarx: Sorry to hear you’ve not been well and hope you feel better soon.

    Will keep an eye out for further details of the NSS protest campaign; thanks for letting me know.

  4. earwicga Says:

    Did you know Gordon Brown invited the Pope?

    “The news of Pope Benedict’s visit comes after Gordon Brown extended a formal invitation to the Pope during a private audience in February.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8271556.stm

  5. Helen G Says:

    earwicga: It’s a bit like someone inviting the local priest to his house for tea and having to listen to said priest lecturing his host that his already comparatively right-wing attitudes weren’t far enough right…

  6. Marigold Says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate, isn’t he actually saying that the “equality of opportunity for all members of society” is the “natural law”…? As far as I can understand, the point being made by the Pope is that a country with a “firm commitment to equality of opportunity” is putting its own values in jeopardy by trying to implement a law which effectively tells people (be they church groups or not) who they should employ.

    It’s the whole positive discrimination thing again.

    Just seems to me that whatever his, or the Roman Catholic Church’s, opinions on homosexuality etc., the point being made here is not the one we think. I saw this item too, with the headline ‘Pope slams equality bill’ – I think it’s all too easy to put all constructive criticism of legal/political developments by the Pope into the ‘papist nutjob’ box and forget about it, simply because he, and the Church he represents, holds views that are contrary to mainstream thinking. Just because someone is considered wrong about some things, doesn’t mean they’re automatically wrong about everything…

    x M.

  7. Helen G Says:

    I don’t read it that way at all. For one thing, the Equality Bill does actually allow certain exemptions for religious organisations over who they may employ.

    And from my earlier post, it seems quite clear that the Holy See is working in tandem with the more extreme elements of the religious Right (in Europe and in the U.S.) to bring their combined force to bear anywhere that other people are standing up for basic civil liberties to be granted to the majority. That seems to me to be quite a sinister development.

    I find it hard to see this latest outburst as anything other than an attempt by the Pope to urge his Bishops to put pressure on a government which is committed to enabling equality legislation which – for all its faults – is an improvement for many people over the present state of affairs.

    I do not see this as a religious issue, I believe it is a question of basic human rights and it is a cause of great concern to me that the Pope seems convinced that those rights must be curtailed in favour of the church’s rights and irrespective of the impact on the people who are supposed to be protected by this legislation.


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