One thing is certain, the facts boldly stated in the headline at The Telegraph are enough to grab readers from the get-go.
Gay marriage could signal return to ‘centuries of persecution’, say 1,000 Catholic priests
The story opens with an imposing block of paraphrased and quoted material from the letter, which was signed by some key bishops as well as priests.
The key, however, is the word “some.” More on that later.
More than 1,000 priests have signed a letter voicing alarm that same-sex marriage could threaten religious freedom in a way last seen during “centuries of persecution” of Roman Catholics in England.
In one of the biggest joint letters of its type ever written, they raise fears that their freedom to practise and speak about their faith will be “severely” limited and dismiss Government reassurances as “meaningless”. They even liken David Cameron’s moves to redefine marriage to those of Henry VIII, whose efforts to secure a divorce from Katherine of Aragon triggered centuries of bloody upheaval between church and state.
They claim that, taken in combination with equalities laws and other legal restraints, the Coalition’s plans will prevent Catholics and other Christians who work in schools, charities and other public bodies speaking freely about their beliefs on the meaning of marriage.
Even the freedom to speak from the pulpit could be under threat, they claim. And they fear that Christians who believe in the traditional meaning of marriage would effectively be excluded from some jobs — just as Catholics were barred from many professions from the Reformation until the 19th Century.
Now the key to this story is who signed this document and who did not.
Some of the important facts are clearly stated in the story. The letter — apparently sent to The Daily Telegraph, not to a government office of any kind was signed by 1,054 priests as well as 13 bishops, abbots and “other senior Catholic figures.” In all, these Catholic leaders are said to “account for almost a quarter of all Catholic priests in England and Wales.”
A quarter signed. There’s the key to the whole matter.