While the Catholic Church described the e-mail as "deeply offensive" and supported the sacking of the SFA's head of referee development in November, the National Secular Society insisted yesterday that it was "a light-hearted joke"Well Catholic Church, you know what I find deeply offensive? Raping kids. However Keith Woods, the director of the NSS, made this point directly to the church.
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the NSS, has written to the SFA following its decision last week to reinstate three of the five individuals sacked last year during a disciplinary hearing that was called after they circulated the e-mail containing a joke linking the Pope to child abuse.Now that is how you verbally bitch-slap an institution.
The three members of staff were reinstated on Friday, following negotiations between the SFA and the GMB union, and are expected to return to their posts later this month after what a union official described as "a wee hiccup" on the workers' unblemished records of service.
In the letter, Mr Wood said the sacking of staff by the SFA was "disproportionate", and that, while the organisation was pleased that three members of staff had been reinstated, it called on the football body to give the remaining two, Mr Dallas and another employee who had not appealed, their jobs back.
Mr Wood then launched an attack on the Catholic Church. He wrote that it was in "no position to lobby and deprive others of their jobs over such a trivial joke, given its own misdemeanours, conducted on a much larger scale for so long and so widely".
He added: "It is a matter of public record that the Catholic Church itself has not sacked, nor indeed reported to prosecuting authorities, thousands of its own employees it knew to have abused children in its care.
"Had it done so, rather than moving these employees to unsuspecting parishes to abuse again, many more victims' lives would have been spared damage."