A call for Catholic schools to be abolished in Scotland has been compared to the actions of notorious dictators Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao.
Tom Wood, the former deputy chief constable of Lothian and Borders police, said closing Catholic schools is the best way to tackle bigotry in Scotland.
This view was backed by journalist Rosemary Goring in an article in Scottish newspaper The Herald.
Peter Kearney, Director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, said: “Her (Goring’s) call for a near-tyrannical imposition of conformity in education is chilling and sadly reminiscent of Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China or countless other totalitarian regimes which have ruthlessly removed choice.”
A police officer was injured by a firework during a clash between republican marchers and loyalist counterprotesters in Glasgow earlier this month.
“The conflict between a small number of marchers on a few Glasgow streets recently is, of course, political not religious,” Mr Kearney said.
“Perhaps those who attack Catholic schools should reveal their true motivation; they might admit that they loathe religion in general, Christianity in particular and the Catholic manifestation of Christianity most especially,” he added.
Mr Kearney suggested that Tom Wood and Rosemary Goring need to look elsewhere for the reasons behind Scotland’s sectarian problem. “Around Europe and across the world, Catholic schools exist and prosper in societies bereft of the bigotry and intolerance found here,” he said.
“In reality, the historical religious divisions that still leave us tainted with sectarian bigotry, pre-date the existence of Catholic schools, so cannot have been created by them.”
Historian Sir Tom Devine, professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh, backed Mr Kearney’s claims. He noted that several studies had dismissed the theory that Catholic schools fuelled bigotry in Scotland.
He pointed to an advisory group set up by the Scottish government in 2013, who found that sectarianism did not have its roots in Catholic schools. The group also stated that sectarianism would not be eradicated if Catholic schools were to close.
Referring to the small number of troublemakers in recent clashes, Sir Tom told The Times: “These are people with distant connections to Ulster on the Protestant side, some of whom belong to Orange lodges, many of whom support a certain football team, but they are a minority.”