Updated again Tuesday morning
The Pope has commented on British equality legislation.
Cif belief has republished an address delivered to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales by Pope Benedict on 1 February 2010.
The key paragraph is this:
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. I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth. Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?
There has been a speedy British media reaction to this:
Telegraph Damian Thompson Pope tells English and Welsh bishops to get their act together and Has the Pope declared war on Labour?
Martin Beckford Pope Benedict XVI criticises ‘unjust’ effects of Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill
Press Association Pope confirms he will visit Britain Headline changed to Pope attacks equality laws in UK
Guardian Riazat Butt Pope condemns gay equality laws ahead of first UK visit
Independent Jerome Taylor Pope: I’ll visit but I don’t like your equality laws
Monday evening additions
Government Equalities Office press statement:
“The Pope acknowledges our country’s firm commitment to equality for all members of society. We believe everyone should have a fair chance in life and not be discriminated against. The Equality Bill will make Britain a fairer and more equal place.”
Telegraph Editorial Opinion Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill should be laid to rest headline changed to The Pope, Labour and religious freedom.
The Times Ruth Gledhill Pope Benedict XVI misses the point in his attack on UK equality law
Guardian Andrew Brown Papal aggression
Catholic Herald Mark Greaves Pope Benedict condemns Equality Bill
Reuters Philip Pullella Pope confirms Britain visit, attacks equality bill and second version of this story
Telegraph Martin Beckford Pope Benedict XVI attacks Labour’s ‘unjust’ equality laws ahead of UK visit and later version Pope attacks Labour laws on equality
Tuesday morning updates
Daily Mail Simon Caldwell Pope condemns Harman equality drive as ‘violation of natural law’
Mirror POPE SLAMS RIGHTS BILL
Herald (Scotland) Outrage as Pope attacks UK equality laws ahead of state visit
Press Association Anger as Pope slams UK equality law
Also Martha Linden of PA, via Independent Anger after Pope slams ‘unjust’ UK equality laws
Guardian Riazat Butt Your equality laws are unjust, pope tells UK before visit