I draw to your attention SPUC’s analysis of the draft document Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations which has recently been prepared by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship. It can be found in full here:
The draft document aims to give guidance to “dioceses and to Catholic individuals and organisations” and is out for consultation until 31st May 2014. Archbishop Peter Smith, the Chairman of the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, has expressed his desire for feedback to ensure that it meets the needs of Catholics.
SPUC’s analysis raises concerns about the content of the bishops’ draft document and challenges the claim that it offers “informed advice and guidance” which will prove to be “a resource which can be referred to when a particular issue arises”.
You may wish to consider sending your comments on Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations to Archbishop Peter Smith, Chairman of the CBCEW’s Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship at 150 St George’s Road, London, SE1 6HX or write to his email address:firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may also wish to send a copy of your comments to the Catholic bishop of the diocese in which you live. Although the purpose of the consultation is “to ensure that [the draft document] meets the needs of Catholics”, it clearly has important implications for non-Catholics too.
There follows an executive summary of SPUC’s analysis which can be found in full here: https://www.spuc.org.uk/
documents/spuc_analysis_ 20140522_of_cbcew_equality_ law_draft_doc
Executive Summary of SPUC’s analysis of Applying Equality Law in Practice
This paper is an analysis of Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations. Applying Equality Law in Practice, (which, it says, is approved by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales), aims to “provide an accurate overview of equality law as it stands... with a focus on religious issues”. The legislation under discussion is the Equality Act 2010 and subsequent amendments to it. Applying Equality Law in Practice is out for consultation until 31st May 2014.
This paper raises concerns about the content of Applying Equality Law in Practice and challenges the claim that it offers “informed advice and guidance”, which will prove to be “a resource which can be referred to when a particular issue arises”.
In particular this paper argues that Applying Equality Law in Practice:
- Fails to place the Equality Act 2010 in its social and political context
- Incorrectly claims that the “framework” of the Equality Act 2010 “is in line with Catholic teaching”
- Provides a distorted interpretation of the law by failing to distinguish acceptable definitions/usage of key terms from the distorted definitions/usage of key terms used by proponents of equality law
- Urges conformity to the Equality Act, and promotion of it, without adequate consideration of the moral dimensions of the law
- Fails to enunciate Catholic teaching on the questions under discussion and thus fails to offer real guidance to those seeking assistance “when a particular issue arises”
- Confuses “religious rights” and the natural moral law in such a way as to undermine claims to objective truth in moral matters
- Fails to uphold the rights of non-Catholics by retreating from the natural moral law to “religious rights”
- Fails to uphold the authentic dignity of those falling under the protected characteristics of “sexual orientation” and “gender reassignment” by acquiescing in the false ideology which underpins the law and by failing either to share the truth in love or to encourage others to do so
- Fails to offer moral support or encouragement to those who are concerned that the law poses a risk to their authentic rights
In short Applying Equality Law in Practice as currently drafted is inadequate as guidance for Catholic dioceses and “Catholic individuals and organisations” who need advice “when a particular issue arises” relating to current equality law.
Many people in our country today are growing ever more concerned about the increasing pressures placed on them, particularly in their places of work, to conform to ideological positions which stand in opposition to the natural moral law and the teaching of the Catholic Church. The range of opportunities open to those who continue to adhere to authentic moral values is at risk of becoming ever more restricted as society grows ever more intolerant of dissenting views on questions relating to sexuality and the family. This is our experience in SPUC as SPUC’s support for the Glasgow midwives, defending their right to conscientious objection to involvement in abortions, shows.
What is urgently needed is for the Church to speak out firmly and courageously in defence of the basic rights and freedoms of us all and tirelessly to give witness to the moral values which are the bedrock of a society in which everyone can truly flourish. It is my opinion both professionally, in my role in SPUC, and as a Catholic husband and father, that Applying Equality Law in Practice: Guidance for Catholics and Catholic Organisations undermines rather than furthers that goal.