The head of a public body responsible for the arts in Scotland has been condemned as “poisonously anti-religious” after calling for the Church to be compelled to ordain women as priests.
Ben Thomson, who chairs Creative Scotland, said greater “gender diversity” in the Church would have helped to prevent the abuse crisis.
In a private submission to a government consultation, Thomson said: “The lack of women as part of the leadership in religion leads to wider problems in society … Most of the religions practised in the UK to some extent discriminate on the basis of gender and it is time we stopped supporting this exemption in our legislation.”
The Equality Act 2010 includes an exemption on gender discrimination for religious groups.
Thomson, who worked in financial services for 33 years before becoming chairman of the National Galleries of Scotland in 2009, said: “If there had been greater gender diversity in the Catholic Church, the extent of paedophilia by those in positions of authority within the Church would most likely not have been as widespread.”
A Church spokesman said: “Religious life is not a ‘workplace’. To suggest otherwise is to demonstrate a lamentable ignorance of religion and belief.
“To suggest gender diversity is an antidote to child abuse is both offensive and absurd … These opinions seriously call into question Mr Thomson’s judgment and cast doubt on his suitability as chair of our national arts body.”
The Scottish government is consulting on a Bill that would require men and women to be represented equally in public sector boardrooms –and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said gender equality in boardrooms is a priority.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund