Anti-Christian Controversy About a Catholic Becoming Equality Minister
Country: United Kingdom
Date of incident: May 9, 2006
Category: Government Restrictions
Attack against: Morals
Area of case: Political / Private
Ruth Kelly, a devout Roman Catholic was made Minister for Women and Equality. Gay rights campaigners reacted with disbelief and stirred up a worrying debate whether a Catholic was fit for such a government position.
Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities, a committed Catholic and member of the Opus Dei group, was embroiled in a renewed row over her religious beliefs. Critics attacked her new role as the Government's equality champion after it emerged she had missed a series of votes on equal rights since 1997.
Journalist Andrew Pierce of the “Times” wrote: “Ruth Kelly, a devout Roman Catholic and a member of the conservative sect Opus Dei, which is featured in The Da Vinci Code, was made Minister for Women and Equality.” Interestingly, he presents a fiction movie as fact, and calls a Catholic lay community a “sect”.
The widespread criticism that a Catholic might not be fit to be minister for Women and Equality is of much concern for the Observatory.
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, wrote a letter to the editor: “Sir, I am astonished that Ruth Kelly’s Catholicism might be considered incompatible with her role as Equality Minister.
The Catholic Church teaches that some actions are sinful, sexual acts outside marriage among them. St Thomas Aquinas taught that not every sin is necessarily a crime, and not every crime is necessarily a sin. From this stems the Church’s defence of human rights. Homosexual people are first of all persons, and have the same entitlement to legal rights as anyone else.
The Church has consistently spoken out against any discrimination against homosexual persons, and will continue to do so. Every politician needs to balance the demands of his or her conscience with the need for collective responsibility in Government. Ruth Kelly is finding that balance for herself. For this she deserves respect, not criticism. Ms Kelly may well be scrutinised for her fitness for office. That is a political judgment; her Catholicism should not be a criterion in that judgment.”
Ruth Kelly said: "Is it possible to be a Catholic and hold a portfolio in government, the answer is emphatically yes. I am responsible for holding to the collective cabinet view on these matters but I firmly believe in equality and that everyone should be free of discrimination and I will fight to the end to make sure that's the case."