The Grand Master of the Scottish Orange Order yesterday revealed he had rewritten much of the organisation’s founding document in a bid to tone down its anti-Catholic sentiments.
Ian Wilson says he is staging a campaign to improve the order’s public image.
He says while the society is proud of its Protestant base, he does not want it to be seen as anti-Catholic.
And he has revealed he is seeking approval of the order’s members to allow them to attend Catholic funeral Masses.
Mr Wilson said: “I have no issues with the Orange Order’s Protestant credentials, but what has to concern any organisation is how it is viewed.
“The founding documents of the Orange Order say, ‘An Orangeman should not merely be somebody who has hostility towards the distinctive doctrines, the superstitions, the priestcraft and spiritual despotism of the Church of Rome.’
“I believe there is no need to express ourselves in these negative terms. We do ourselves no favours by continuing to adopt language which came from the late 18th century.”
Mr Wilson has rewritten the doctrine to read: “An Orangeman is not a lawbreaker. He is ready to obey magistrates, respects all constitutions and authorities and believes that the powers that be are ordained by God. He is a lover of peace and order, and one of the objects which the brotherhood is formed to secure is that peace and order, civil and religious liberty may be maintained in the land.”
Mr Wilson said he was also concerned that other regulations effectively ban members from attending the funerals of friends or family members who may be Roman Catholic.
He said: “At the end of the day, as an organisation we recognise other people’s right to have a different opinion and a different religious persuasion.
“Many of our members think that not being allowed to attend a Roman Catholic funeral service is archaic.
“Our members have expressed they do not wish to embrace the Catholic faith.
“But if they sit quietly at the back of the church without taking part, I don’t see a problem.”
Full story at The Scotsman.