Comment of the day: Pope Benedict XVI criticises ‘unjust’ effects of Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill – by Martin Beckford in the Telegraph

Pope Benedict XVI has criticised Harriet Harman’s “unjust” Equality Bill for trying to prevent religious groups remain true to their beliefs.

The pontiff claimed Labour’s flagship anti-discrimination legislation “actually violates” natural law, and suggested that it contravened “long-standing British traditions” of freedom of speech.

He also urged Roman Catholics in the UK to “speak with a united voice” in a secular and multicultural society, as he confirmed that he will make a historic state visit to the country later this year.

His comments come a week after Christian peers defeated the Government on a key part of the Equality Bill.

Existing exemptions for religious employment were set to be changed, and churches feared under the new rules they would have face prosecution unless they went against their beliefs by employing homosexuals and transsexuals. Catholics said the law could have forced them to admit women to the priesthood.

The controversial clause was dropped after a vote in the House of Lords although it is possible that the European Commission may now intervene to back the Government’s original plan.

In an address delivered on Monday to the 35 Catholic bishops from England and Wales who had made the five-yearly ad Limina pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome, the pope attacked the implications of the Equality Bill. His comments come a week after Christian peers defeated the Government on a key part of the Equality Bill.

Existing exemptions for religious employment were set to be changed, and churches feared under the new rules they would have face prosecution unless they went against their beliefs by employing homosexuals and transsexuals. Catholics said the law could have forced them to admit women to the priesthood.

The controversial clause was dropped after a vote in the House of Lords although it is possible that the European Commission may now intervene to back the Government’s original plan.

In an address delivered on Monday to the 35 Catholic bishops from England and Wales who had made the five-yearly ad Limina pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome, the pope attacked the implications of the Equality Bill. Read in full in the Telegraph.

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