Scottish Authorities Deny Goalie Disciplined for Making Sign of Cross

By Gudrun Schultz

Artur BorucGLASGOW, Scotland, August 29, 2006 ( – Scotland’s Crown Office issued a clarification yesterday denying that Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc received a caution for making the sign of the cross during an Old Firm game in February.

The Crown had announced last Friday that the Polish Catholic footballer would be cautioned and receive a criminal record for “gesticulating at and incensing the crowd at a football match,” constituting a “breach of the peace.” Boruc was chastised for making three gestures, according to the Crown Office, including a “V” for victory sign, an obscene gesture toward Rangers fans and the sign of the cross.

Catholic church officials and politicians raised an outcry over the Crown’s inclusion of Boruc’s religious gesture in the caution. The Sunday Herald reported that the Catholic Church demanded a clarification from the Crown Office on “whether or not it deems the sign of the cross to be an offensive action which is the equivalent of gratuitous hand gestures.”

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and a Catholic, criticized the Crown’s decision, saying, “I am surprised because this has traditionally been a country which has valued religious diversity and cultural and racial diversity as well and where there has been freedom of expression,” the Belfast Telegraph reported.

In response to the widespread condemnation generated by the decision, the Crown issued a statement yesterday, saying:

“We would wish to make it absolutely clear that the prosecution service in Scotland fully respects religious belief and practices and would not countenance formal action against individuals for acts of religious observance, but would equally make clear that the police and prosecutors cannot ignore conduct which appears to be inciting disorder.”

Catholic Bishop Joseph Devine, speaking for the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, praised the Crown’s clarification, saying, “The statement, that they fully respect religious beliefs and practices and would not countenance formal action against individuals for acts of religious observance, is welcome and reassuring,” the Daily Record reported.

Deep-seated rivalry between Glasgow football clubs reflects long-held religious divisions, with the Rangers traditionally associated with Protestant supporters and the Celtic club with Catholics. Official efforts to reduce tension and end hostility, and outbreaks of violence, between the two sides have met with mixed success, according to the Telegraph.

See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

Polish Footballer Disciplined By Scots for Making Sign of Cross

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