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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Bishops issue diversity and equality guidelines
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¬†The Catholic Bishops Conference of England & Wale issued published a Policy Statement and Guidelines on diversity and equality yesterday. Archbishop Peter Smith, Chairman of the Department for Christian Responsibility & Citizenship, said the purpose of the guidelines was "to raise awareness, to explain some of the requirements of the law, and to encourage the Catholic community to respond to this new situation in a way that reflects our particular values and traditions." The document follows a series of recent EU Directives on race, employment and equal treatment and new UK legislation to implement these directives. In the Guidelines, the Bishops call on all Catholic bodies 'to publicly acknowledge their respect for diversity and commitment to equality.' Catholic employers must take care to ensure that no direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or victimisation takes place. In making appointments to committees and commissions, councils, boards and other bodies, authorities should ensure 'that selection procedures reach out to the full diversity of the Catholic community in their area or constituency.' Formal and informal monitoring are encouraged by the Bishops, and while reverse discrimination is 'usually inappropriate,' other forms of 'positive action' are also encouraged. The Guidelines cover six areas of legislation including, race, age, religion and belief, sexual orientation, and disability. On race, the Bishops accept the reality of 'institutional racism' and endorse the Charter of the Catholic Racial Justice Congress 2003. On gender, they recognised the different roles that men and women are sometimes called to play, while at the same time they 'recognise and uphold their fundamental equality and support society's attempt to give them full and equal rights'. The Bishops urge the Catholic community to 'seek to include people with disabilities in the pastoral, spiritual, liturgical, social and educational dimensions of Church life.' They welcome new legislation on religious discrimination in employment' which needs to be carefully applied so as to safeguard 'the right of faith communities to practice their faith freely and to engage in a range of religious, educational and charitable activities'. The Bishops make it clear that 'every human being, whatever his or her sexual orientation, has a right to live a life free from discrimination and harassment'. At the same time, they point out that Catholic teaching makes a distinction between sexual orientation and sexual activity, and it holds that all men and women are called to a life of chastity, and to fidelity, if they choose to marry.' New legislation which from 2006 will protect all against discrimination on the grounds of age is also welcomed. In conclusion, the Bishops 'call upon all Catholics to make a real effort to be open to the challenge of the new legislation' and they express their own hope to create within the church 'a pattern of life founded on the love of God for each person ≠ a place of welcome that enable all who wish so to respond to the invitation of faith.' To read the entire document see:
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