In a letter sent out on Friday to Catholic parishes and dioceses; schools and colleges, charities and agencies, the Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Chair of the Equality Act Working Group, Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, Bishop John Arnold, has launched a consultation within the Catholic community to inform guidance which the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales will be producing on the Equality Act.
The guidance is intended to meet the issues raised by the Act which are particularly matters of concern to Catholics, though it will undoubtedly be of benefit to other Christians and to some other religions. It will be produced on the basis of legal advice.
“Much of the Act affects Catholics in the same way that it does any group in society, and indeed reflects Catholic teaching. However, some parts of the Act will affect Catholics in ways specific to them,” writes Bishop John Arnold. “Discrimination in employment is subject to exemptions on sex and sexuality reflecting religious beliefs; questions arise about how far a Parish can restrict the commercial letting of its hall; as employees, Catholics need to know what protection the law provides them; and as recipients of public services, Catholics need to be aware of what action they can expect of public authorities.”
“To address the issues specific to the Catholic Community, the Bishops’ Conference has decided to draw up some first-line guidance….It will also offer guidance on how best to resolve problems without seeking legal redress.”
The letter asks respondents to identify particular issues which have arisen in their Catholic parish/diocese/college/school/charity/agency and to submit responses to the consultation by 15 October 2011.
To participate in this consultation, please use the form included in the letter on the link below and respond to the most appropriate Working Group Member:
Catholic Charities and Agencies – Helen.Obrien@cbcew.org.uk
Catholic Schools and Colleges – CFischer@cesew.org.uk
Diocese and Parishes – email@example.com
Any other responses – firstname.lastname@example.org
By Post: Equality Act Consultation, 39 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1BX