Catholics in Scotland Victims of Hate Crimes

By paddy patterson from glasgow, scotland (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

About 15 percent of Scots are Catholic
Elaine Smith, a member of the Scottish Parliament, has asked the Scots administration to recognize the increasing problem of Scottish anti-Catholicism . The MSP raised this subject in Parliament in the third week of March, after a Catholic church located near the city of Glasgow was vandalized. The Blessed Sacrament was desecrated.

Statistics collated from Scottish Government records reveal that Catholics make up a lion’s share of the victims when it comes to religious-aggravated offenses in Scotland. It is clear that Scottish Roman Catholics require increased protection to fight hate crimes.

MSP Smith asked that equal prominence be given to anti-Catholicism as it has been given to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. She made the comments after reports emerged that Cardinal Keith O’Brien had died after he suffered a fall. O’Brien, who at one time led Catholics in Scotland, was compelled to resign after it was alleged that he had engaged in inappropriate conduct. The fall resulted in a collarbone break and a head injury. The Cardinal died due to these injuries.

It is the belief of church leaders that such anti-Catholic sentiment is due to the 1560 Scottish Protestant Revolution. The 16th-century event led to the denunciation of Catholic worship and doctrine. Many Scottish Catholics believe discrimination against Catholics continues to this day. Matt McGlone, an author and journalist, concurs. He said that Scotland has rampant sectarianism. He pointed out that the problem is particularly prevalent in Scotland’s western part, although the anti-Catholic mentality is found all over Scotland.

Daniel Harkins of the Scottish Catholic Observer agrees. The newspaper editor said, “last month we reported on 15 employees of a local authority who had complained to their union of anti-Catholic discrimination by their supervisor — a convicted bigot. Our evidence is anecdotal, not statistical, but it has always been difficult to accurately measure levels of anti-Catholicism in Scotland.”

Smith requested the incumbent Scottish National Party to “go out to the Catholic population and listen to their concerns.” In response, Annabelle Ewing of the SNP said that the present administration has committed to manage such crimes. She said that about £13 million has been spent since 2012 to curtail sectarianism. Smith, in her reply, quoted the Archbishop of Glasgow, Philip Tartaglia, who said sectarianism is not much of a problem, but antipathy towards Catholicism is. A study made in 2015 by Social Attitudes Survey revealed that 15 percent of Scots identify themselves as Catholic.

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