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‘Religion and secular society must coexist,’ says ERG

Gibraltar’s new Bishop will stand by and defend his religious and institutional precepts as are his right and role, the Equality Rights Group said yesterday, highlighting how the secular society will do the same on their side.

The ERG was responding to comments made by the Bishop of Gibraltar on the eve of his ordination, in which he said that changing the legal definition of marriage is “a radical step” whose consequences should be taken seriously.

The ERG, which has been at the forefront of the campaign to legalise civil marriage between same sex couples, yesterday described the Bishop’s statement as “an honest declaration of position”.

“The Catholic Church has its views, and secular society has a different point of view,” the group said in a statement.

“Yet, if we are to believe both the foundation of Roman Catholic theology and the premise of secular society, understanding and mutual respect are necessary and essential.”

The new Bishop was sent to Gibraltar and served amongst us for many years as a priest and will certainly have understood Gibraltar’s core values of respect for others in this community, the ERG said.  

According to the ERG the secular society has made a point of not interfering in ecclesiastical practices or doctrines.

The group said it was therefore incumbent upon religious institutions and leaders to avoid incursions into the secular and political freedoms of society at large.

This, the ERG said, is the core premise surrounding the issues on legal amendments to civil marriage in Gibraltar, which ERG has strongly and clearly advanced and which society at large has understood.

“ERG has clearly demonstrated its well-publicised willingness to open lines of dialogue and respect with the new Roman Catholic Bishop of Gibraltar, and we have extended that same invitation to dialogue to all Gibraltar’s denominations,” the group’s statement said.

“Living by the golden rule of treating others as we would wish to be treated ourselves is not just a nicety, it’s a foundation stone for human decency and peace for both the religious and the non-religious alike which can be found in even the earliest societies.”

“The new Bishop will stand by and defend his religious and institutional precepts as are his right and role.” the ERG said, adding that it and secular society will do the same on their side.

“Peaceful coexistence demands that an effort be made to agree to disagree, yet exercise a maximum of real everyday respect towards differing views”.

The ERG reiterated its willingness to sit down with the denominations to establish ties.

It added that it would speak with the same clarity and plain language as the Bishop to say that it will continue to defend any incursions into the human and civil rights of the community of Gibraltar.

“In this, and for the sake of positivity, we must all be careful in the terminologies we employ, since ‘political correctness’ and ‘religious correctness’ may just as readily be switched,” the ERG said.