The Bishop of Motherwell, Joseph Toal has called on the Scottish Government to act in the words of Pope Francis to ‘foster encounter and to seek convergence on at least some issues’.
Writing in today’s Herald newspaper, Bishop Toal, referring to the recent Encyclical released by the Pope says: ‘I hope the government will continue to foster encounter and to seek convergence by listening to concerns raised by many about a piece of proposed legislation.’
The bishop goes on to urge further amendments to the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, following the recent decision by the Justice Secretary to amend the Bill so as to raise the criminal threshold of the controversial stirring up offences from a ‘likelihood’ to stir up hatred to ‘intent’ to stir up hatred.
Bishop Toal comments: ‘The Catholic Church will continue to argue for further change to this legislation to include; more equitable and robust freedom of expression provisions; greater clarity around the definitions of ‘hatred’, ‘abusive’ and ‘insulting’ which remain precariously vague.’
The bishop also calls on the Scottish Government to ‘address the outstanding concerns of many, that religious texts, books and social media messages expressing certain views could be considered ‘abusive’ under the proposed law and act to protect freedom of expression and people’s right to be themselves and to be different’.
Picture: Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Scotland. (Roger Pilkington).