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Catholic Church issues equality advice

Wed 19 Nov 2014
By Marcus Jones

The Catholic Church in England and Wales is issuing new guidelines for Catholics and Catholic organisations in order to stop them falling foul of equality laws.

The Christian Responsibility and Citizenship Department of the Catholic Bishops' Conference says it hopes to help people gain a deeper understanding of this area of law and remove any misconceptions caused by its perceived complexity.

Speaking about the guide, Archbishop Peter Smith, chair of the group said: "It is not a substitute for taking professional legal advice but it aims to raise awareness on what the law allows and to enable potential problems to be anticipated and averted.

"There is both scope and sometimes a need for Catholics to make use of the new law's provisions which can protect religious freedom."

Some have said new equality laws hinder church groups from following teaching on things like adoption and same sex marriage, but the guideline suggest legislation should actually be able to help believers.

Archbishop Peter Smith said: "The Equality Act makes clear that the protection of religious rights are an important part of that framework and we should all participate in the dialogue to shape what equality law will look like in the future.

"There is both scope and sometimes a need for Catholics to make use of the new law's provisions which can protect religious freedom."

The guidelines also suggest if the Equality Act is seen to be implemented incorrectly, expert legal advice should be taken straight away.

You can read the full advice here.

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