I don’t get it, your holiness — if you’re that offended, then stay the hell home to make a point.

Now of course, Pope Benedict, who has launched another bigot missile at Britain’s proposed Equality Bill, is going to be greeted by protests when he arrives. He claims victimhood — that protecting LGBTs from discrimination in the public sphere is tantamount on an attack on religious freedom (where have we heard that old saw before?). (The Independent):

In a letter to the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, many of whom are currently in Rome on an “ad limina” visit, Pope Benedict publicly criticised Britain’s equality legislation for the first time.

“Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society,” he wrote. “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.” In a separate warning to any bishop thinking of deviating from the Vatican’s lead on such controversial issues, Pope Benedict also reiterated the need for the Church to “speak with a united voice“.

“In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognise dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate,” he said. “It is the truth revealed through scripture and tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.”

The Pope’s comments were a clear assault on the Equality Bill, which consolidates the past 40 years of equality legislation and aims to expand rules stopping employers from discriminating against gay employees because of their sexuality. Churches and religious organisations are currently exempt from the legislation, an exemption the Pope believes his bishops must make sure they maintain.

Last week, an amendment to the Bill which would have more clearly defined which jobs could continue to discriminate against homosexuals was defeated in the House of Lords with help from the Anglican bishops who are also exposed to any expansion of the equality legislation.

Again, what part of the separation of church and public policy and law does the Pope, an educated man, not understand? It sounds more like Papa Ratzi is more concerned that he doesn’t have control, over his bishops. Perhaps he should think twice before passing judgment on another country’s human rights laws, since he has coddled and shuttled around child-raping priests and crime-evading cardinals in the Vatican crime syndicate that casts a dark pall on the church.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding