Northern Ireland news

Scottish Orangemen scrap rule stopping members from entering Catholic churches

Rev Brian Kennaway said most Orangemen were 'pragmatic' in their adherence to the rule forbidding the from entering Catholic churches

A FORMER senior Orangeman has welcomed moves by the loyal order in Scotland to allow members to enter Catholic churches.

Presbyterian minister Brian Kennaway, author of The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed, told The Irish News he was encouraged by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland's move to end the controversial rule.

However, Rev Kennaway said he was unsure such a rule existed, suggesting it was more of a "statement of initiation" when joining the institution.

In 2011, the members of St Simon's LOL 821 from Sandy Row in Belfast lodged a complaint against the then Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott and party colleague Danny Kennedy after they attended the funeral of Catholic police officer Ronan Kerr.

The two Orangemen were cleared by their respective county lodges who said they had "no case to answer".

It has been reported in Scotland that the rule which previously prevented Orangemen from attending funerals, weddings, and other events held in Catholic churches has been lifted in recent weeks.

The rule change to this was reportedly ratified at a Grand Lodge of Scotland meeting in February and has since been communicated with the wider membership.

The Grand Lodge of Ireland has declined to discuss the matter with The Irish News.

In a one line statement, a spokesman said: "This is a matter for the Grand Lodge of Scotland. We have no further comment to make."

A complaint was lodged against the then Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott and party colleague Danny Kennedy after they attended the funeral of Catholic police officer Ronan Kerr. Picture by Pacemaker

Rev Kennaway said most Orangemen were "pragmatic" in their adherence to the rule, especially in rural, border areas.

"Fortunately, most members I know take a pragmatic view and have no problem attending weddings and funerals," he said.

He welcomed the Grand Lodge of Scotland's moves, citing the case of prominent 18th century Orangeman Patrick Duigenan, who was married to a practicing Catholic and according to Rev Kennaway's book, "neither reduced his commitment to Orange principles, nor did it decrease his prominence within the Orange institution of his day".

"I am encouraged that at least one branch of Orangeism is returning to the institution's core values, considering the institution's second grand secretary was married to a Roman Catholic," he said.

Mr Elliot told the News Letter that he would "welcome a discussion" on the matter.

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