Press release from the Scottish Catholic Media Office…
Catholic Church suggests Hate Crime review, offers opportunity to consolidate rather than separate legislation.
Wednesday 29 November 2017
Church comments come in response to the Scottish Government’s Review of Hate Crime legislation, chaired by Lord Bracadale:
The review is charged with considering whether existing hate crime law represents the most effective approach for the justice system to deal with criminal conduct motivated by hatred, malice, ill-will or prejudice..
Commenting on the review, Director of the Catholic Parliamentary Office, Anthony Horan who submitted a detailed response on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said:
“This process is an opportunity, ultimately, to ensure that the legislation is just and that every group is protected. This does not have to be a “zero sum game” where one group “wins” and another “loses” but rather could be an opportunity to rationalise and simplify legislation. A desirable outcome would be a single aggravation such as section 74 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003. Applied to all protected characteristics equally, it would be a simple and straightforward “message.” which would foster harmony in that all groups would be treated equally in the eyes of the law.”
Mr Horan added:
“It is important that any legislation, preserves judicial discretion recognising that Scotland has a Criminal Justice System populated by highly trained prosecutors and Judges. They are best placed to assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual cases and should be free to do so in the absence of their decision being “politicised” by legislation which creates a perceived “scandal” where none exists.”
The Church response also highlights Scotland’s long history of anti-Catholicism and urges Government recognition be given to the historic roots of present conflicts. Pointing out that for over twenty years successive Scottish Governments have dedicated significant resources into programmes and projects designed to tackle the symptoms of sectarianism. The submission adds, that in the same period the growth in such funding has been matched by an increase in religious hate crime.
The response notes, that “an opportunity exists to acknowledge that anti-Catholic sectarianism is qualitatively and quantitatively different from other types of religious hate crime in Scotland. Instances of anti-Catholicism outnumber all other type of religious hate crime combined, in a country where Catholics represent only 16% of the population. This is a product of the Reformation Parliament of 1560 and its condemnation of Catholic doctrine and worship including the ban on the celebration of all Catholic sacraments. No other religion or belief has ever been so proscribed in Scotland, the legacy of this proscription continues to the present day. A recommendation by this review, that the Scottish Government consider issuing a collective, retrospective apology could go some way towards building, repairing and renewing bonds between communities harmed by historical wrongdoing. It could also be the first step in addressing historical iniquities.” ENDS
Click here to read the full text of the Church’s response to the Hate Crime review
We can’t speak for lapsed Catholics, but it is simply not possible for a truly practising Catholic to be filled with hate and that’s what defines bigotry. Many of us, myself included, count members of non-Catholic communities among our families and friends. There is no way that I can even begin to comprehend what it must be like to hate someone for any reason – let alone on account of their religion. Christ told us to go out into the whole world and convert – not kill, not hate. He explicitly told us that it is just not possible to love God if we hate our neighbour (1 John 4:20).
The fact is, though, that there is much hatred directed against Catholicism, and it is sadly true that anti-Catholic behaviour is tolerated in Scotland – to the point where it is effectively institutionalised. Below, a short video clip showing an annual public demonstration of this institutionalised bigotry – the Orange Walk(s) which take place throughout the summer. These events, which are permitted by the local political authorities and supported by the police, testify to the tolerance of anti-Catholic sentiment and behaviour by the powers-that-be in Scotland. The participants sing offensive songs – some of the lyrics of one of the most popular Orange songs is placed under the video, to give a flavour of what goes on during these marches, although the one on film below is relatively mild.
As you watch, ask yourself if such a hate-march would be permitted against Muslims. Ask, yourself, too, if the Editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer was right to invite the Grand Master of the Orange Lodge to write a column in the paper a few short years ago… Is that really what Catholics want to take home and leave lying on the coffee table? Albeit in the name of fostering ecumenical relationships? Howzabout the Grand Master cancels the annual Orange Marches in the name of ecumenism?
“The Sash My Father Wore” Lyrics
Sure I’m an Ulster Orangeman, from Erin’s Isle I came
To see my Glasgow brethren all of honor and of fame
And to tell them of my forefathers who fought in days of yore
All on the twelfth day of July in The Sash My Father Wore.
It is old but it is beautiful, and its colors they are fine
It was worn at Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and the Boyne. From my orange and purple forefather it descended with galore
It’s a terror to them Papish boys, The Sash My Father Wore. [emphasis added].