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Protestant church leader questions McCausland stance on attending Catholic events

Culture Minister Nelson McCausland has drawn fresh criticism from Sinn Fein after a Protestant church leader questioned the DUP man’s claims that his religion barred him from attending Catholic religious events.

Presbyterian Moderator Stafford Carson was speaking after Mr McCausland said he would refuse any ministerial engagement that involved attending Catholic worship.

Mr Carson said: “I think attending a service anywhere does not mean an endorsement of all that that particular denomination believes.

“And I think very often personal and human connections take us into those kind of situations.”

Last week Sinn Fein and the DUP were at loggerheads in the Assembly after republicans sponsored a debate challenging Mr McCausland's stance.

Raymond McCartney of Sinn Fein questioned how he could carry out his ministerial responsibilities in an impartial way given his opposition to Catholicism.

Mr McCartney said: “It is my belief that all ministers should commit themselves not to make religious belief a barrier to carrying out duties in an impartial and non-partisan way.

“It fundamentally undermines his ability to state that he is a minister who will carry out his duties without fear or favour.”

Mr McCausland said his refusal to go to a Catholic church did not mean he did not enjoy good relations with Catholics, but he said that he was entitled to his personal views.

He added: “The motion is framed in the language of liberalism but it is intolerant and discriminatory.”

The Sinn Fein motion called on the minister to do withdraw his statement that he will not attend a service in a Catholic church, to recognise that such a refusal to attend a Catholic church service from a minister has no place in an inclusive society, and that as a minister he has a duty to serve all sections of society. It was defeated.

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