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Religious persecution, freedom and communication

This week’s editorial leader

Mother Teresa Sisters of Charity are among those murdered by extremists in Yemen, modern-martyrs according to Pope Francis and victims of religious persecution today. And yet this week, although focusing on their plight in the news (and their founder’s Canonisation), the SCO runs a feature on the CEO of a group accused of actively attempting to curb religious freedom, and bring organised religion to its knees in this country. Coincidence? Yes. Thought provoking. Certainly. Appropriate?

Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall, is a renowned activist for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. As a gay woman, and a Catholic, she was uniquely positioned after LGBT month, which this year had the theme of faith, religion and philosophy, to discuss breaking down barriers between the community she represents and religious groups.

She talks of religious freedom not being impeded by increased gay rights. She calls for a move away the ‘artificial constructed’ of these groups coming to blows over their difference and speaks against for polarisation on key issues such as marriage.

Terrorists abroad are killing people based on their religion, and sexuality, eschewing all communication and negotiations. That is both a tragedy and a travesty, yet proof positive that keeping lines of communication open between groups destined to go head-to-head at home is not only desirable but in fact vital.

The SCO was recently lambasted on social media, and not for the first time, for retweeting a photograph of a high achieving Catholic student with the First Minister as party politicking. By the same rationale, the story this week of the Countess of Strathearn visiting a Edinburgh Catholic primary school is what? Promotion of royalty?

In an age of increasing secularisation, showing the Catholic community engaging with and being supported by secular society reminds both our community and the wider world of our role and our value. The SCO pays penance, during Lent and always, alongside the rest of the community when we err. This is not one of those moments.

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