Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Religious input must be tested

Let bishops contribute to the national debate, by all means; but let others, particularly our elected politicians, also be allowed to criticise them.

Let us hope that we have left that kind of deference behind and that both the lay and the clerical can voice their views. None of us must be afraid to speak truth to power.

It is commonplace now to find Catholic apologists quoting Voltaire's famous remark about defending to the death his opponent's right to free speech, and surely we don't want to go back to the days when elected politicians were afraid to hold up priests to scrutiny.

The fact that some clerics may perform good works cannot absolve the church from responsibility and criticism.

Religious beliefs are essentially private and when they enter the public sphere they must bear the same robust examination as any other opinion.

BERNARD CANAVAN

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