"Your country is well-known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society.
"Yet, as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.
This quote refers to the Equality Bill currently going through Parliament which doesn't allow religious organisations to discriminate against hiring religious people for jobs (except for priest or equivalent jobs).
Imagine if Nick Griffin was making a quote along similar lines, e.g.:
The effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of Nazi racists to act in accordance with their beliefs.
Somehow I don't think that allowing religious organisations not to hire black people, for example, would go down too well. But replace "racists" with "homophobics" and you've basically got the Pope's quote, or thereabouts.
It's not the first time that this Pope has pursued a reactionary vendetta against the 21st century. But it's probably the most high-profile case yet, and I'm grateful for that. There are some on the progressive left who are saying the Pope shouldn't be let into the UK for his state visit later in the year. My stance is, as usual, the Han Solo line: Bring him on. I'd prefer a straight (metaphorical) fight between humanist (and indeed moderate religious) rationalism on the one hand, and extremist religious hatred on the other.
I'd actually argue that the Equality Bill should apply to priests as well. Why the exemption? It'd be fantastic if, to carry on practising in the UK, the Catholic Church had to let women priests in. That would be one of the greatest achievements of New Labour. Forward the Revolution.