BY WILL GORE CARDINAL KEITH O'Brien has accused the Scottish National Executive of failing to do enough to stamp out "institutional sectarianism".
Speaking at a summit on the issue in Glasgow, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh said the executive had focused too much on football and parades.
"Most instances of sectarianism do not involve any of these and I think we should now begin to look at the wider social causes of sectarian animosity," he said. Despite reports to the contrary, Cardinal O'Brien did not attend last Sunday's football match between Rangers and Celtic.
After last week's Summit on Sectarianism, several news agencies, including the BBC, claimed that Cardinal O'Brien would join Kirk Moderator Rt Rev Alan Macdonald at future matches between the Old Finn rivals, as "a show of unity".
Yet a spokesman for Cardinal O'Brien told the Herald that the prelate had no wish to "perpetuate the myth that Celtic is a Catholic football club".
"The cardinal is not interested in football and will not be attending any matches," said the spokesman. "At the summit it was made clear that football is a small reflection of the huge problem of sectarianism in Glasgow.
"In reality sectarianism means anti-Catholicism, and it has been around in the city long before the football clubs were established in 1845."
Cardinal O'Brien told the summit that in order to put an end to religious bigotry 'The wider social causes of sectarian animosity", such as poverty, unemployment, poor housing and boredom must be tackled. The fierce rivalry
between the two biggest tOotball clubs in Scotland has long been marred by sectarian violence, often prompted by the singing of aggressive songs by supporters of both clubs.
At the summit Jack McConnell, Scotland's First Minister, praised both Rangers and Celtic for working in their respective communities to stamp out sectarian bigotry. He said: "We must keep up the pressure and build on the good work." Only last May, Rangers were fined by UEFA, European football's governing body, after their supporters sang sectarian songs during a UEFA cup match.