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ERG reacts to Bishop’s sermon

The Equality Rights Group, reacting to Bishop Carmel Zammit’s sermon in Fulham, said it will write to “the highest levels of the Vatican” to express concern about his “all-guns-blazing” style.

The group defended the Bishop’s right to freedom of expression, but said it had no option but to respond to his “strident” interventions on civil issues such as same-sex marriage.

“It is our hope that the Bishop’s seemingly confrontational stance can change, though,” said ERG chairman Felix Alvarez. 

“We had, in fact, publicly invited and hoped for dialogue not confrontation, a situation difficult to foresee now given the climate that has been created following a stream of pronouncements from the Bishop.” 

“Nonetheless, if religious authorities, of whichever denomination deliberately and directly involve themselves in questioning and intervening in secular and civil social political issues, it is only logical that secular society will be entitled to question and respond in kind on religious and ecclesiastical matters which they would otherwise not feel so licensed to question.”

“This will be wholly regrettable given Gibraltar’s long history of peaceful coexistence.” 

“Canon law and secular law have, to date and for the most part in Gibraltar, been respectful of each other.”

“Should this change, ERG is concerned that challenges may well begin to alter that balance. We will therefore be expressing our concerns on this matter directly to the highest levels of The Vatican.”

The group said the Bishop’s comments showed a “lack of sensitivity” to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual community, many of whom were members of the Catholic congregation in Gibraltar.