The Scottish Crown Office has released statistics on religiously aggravated offending that show an increase in attacks on Catholics. Archbishop Tartaglia responded that said the Scottish Government is refusing to face up to the brutal nature of anti-Catholicism in Scotland:
‘“Sadly, it seems incontrovertible now that our problem is not so much sectarianism but anti-Catholicism. This is regrettable because popular culture is inventing all kinds of new reasons to marginalise and hate Catholics. In the face of this, the Catholic community of Scotland remains steadfast in faith, joyful in hope and fully committed to being part of Scottish society.”
The data contained in the latest report—Religiously aggravated offending in Scotland 2011-2012—shows an increase of 26 per cent in religious hate crimes, with 509 attacks on Catholics making up 58.per cent of all such offences. Anti-Catholic attacks are more prevalent than attacks on all other religious groups combined.
Scotland introduced the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 on March 1 this year and it was reported this month that 89 per cent of reported cases of offensive behaviour have been prosecuted and 83 per cent of those have brought convictions.
Archbishop Tartaglia, newly elected President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said the statistics proved Catholics can not feel completely safe in Scotland.
“I am saddened by the latest figures on religiously aggravated offending,” he said. “While most Catholics are safe most of the time, these figures show a side of Scotland, which is truly unfortunate.”
The archbishop also said the Scottish Government had to face up to the reality that Scotland was and still is an anti-Catholic country.
While Archbishop Tartaglia has himself witnessed anti-Catholic bigotry on the football terraces, sectarianism in Scotland is not limited to sporting events. As Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, told the SCO last week: “The reality is that football-related incidents only ever made up 15 per cent of sectarian-aggravated offences, so that is a total red herring.”
Protect the Pope comment: Over the past two years this website has received many obscene comments attacking Pope Benedict, Catholics and me personally because I’m a Catholic. So long as prominent public figures, such as Prof Richard Dawkins, remain unchallenged by politicians and the media for condemning Catholics as ‘vile’ and the Catholic faith as ‘evil’, other anti-Catholic bigots will invent excuses for attacking Catholics.
Will the BBC and SKY pay any attention to Archbishop Tartaglia’s observation that the popular culture they broadcast and commission is inventing all kinds of new reasons to marginalise and hate Catholics? Deacon Nick Donnelly