Scottish Catholic priests' letter condemns gay marriage

Cardinal Keith O'Brien Cardinal O'Brien appears to be stepping up the Catholic Church's campaign against gay marriage

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Roman Catholic priests have read out a letter in each of the Church's parishes in Scotland criticising the Scottish government for plans to introduce gay marriage.

Last week the leader of the Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, broke off personal discussions on the issue with the First Minister, Alex Salmond.

The Church has declared 26 August as National Marriage Sunday.

The Scottish government says it is right to introduce same-sex marriage.

But it has stressed no clergy would be forced to carry out the ceremonies.

The letter criticises the Scottish government for trying to change what Cardinal O'Brien considers to be the only legitimate definition of marriage - the lifelong union of a man and a woman.

'Grotesque subversion'

The letter also announces the launch of a National Commission for Marriage and the Family to co-ordinate a campaign against gay marriage.

It says: "We reaffirm before you all the common wisdom of humanity and the revealed faith of the Church that marriage is a unique life-long union of a man and a woman."

And it asks the Church's congregation to "pray for our elected leaders, invoking the Holy Spirit on them, that they may be moved to safeguard marriage as it has always been understood, for the good of Scotland and of our society".

Tom French, Equality Network: "The letter... is part of a wider anti-gay agenda"

In March, Cardinal O'Brien described gay marriage as a "grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right".

The Scottish government has pledged to bring forward a bill on the issue later this year, and has indicated the earliest ceremonies could take place by the start of 2015.

Same-sex couples in Scotland can already enter into civil partnerships. The Scottish government has promised to protect religious freedoms, and says any changes would not see churches forced to take part in same-sex ceremonies.

A Scottish government spokesperson said: "We intend to proceed with plans to allow same sex marriage and religious ceremonies for civil partnerships because we believe it is the right thing to do.

"We are equally committed to protecting religious freedom and freedom of expression, and ensuring that religious celebrants opposed to same sex marriage do not have to solemnise same sex ceremonies."

The Equality Network, which is campaigning in support of same-sex marriage in Scotland, said politicians should stand firm over the plans.

'Sad day'

Tom French, the charity's policy co-ordinator, said: "It is increasingly clear that the Church has an anti-gay agenda that it wants to impose on the rest of society.

"We urge the Scottish government to stand firm on plans to introduce equal marriage and not give in to demands that would discriminate against LGBT people."

John Deighanm, Catholic Church of Scotland: "This about a cultural issue"

Other Churches in Scotland have also expressed concern about the same-sex marraige plans. The Church of Scotland has said it is concerned the Scottish government is "rushing ahead on something that affects all the people of Scotland without adequate debate and reflection".

And the Free Church of Scotland described the decision to introduce gay marriage as a "truly sad day for Scotland" and urged the Scottish government to reconsider its plans.

The UK government's consultation on allowing civil marriages for gay and lesbian couples in England and Wales closed in June.

The coalition is analysing the results before publishing its formal response, but Prime Minster David Cameron has promised legislation before the next election.

There are currently no plans for similar legislation in Northern Ireland.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Whilst I personally think religion and especially Catholicism is REVOLTING I strongly believe in equality and a return to Britain's true values shaped over thousands of years before the invasion 1500 years ago of this bigoted middle eastern christian religion. A church that invests in the weapons industry & protects abusers of children has no place in Britain or Europe. Thank god.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Marriage by its very definition is the union between MAN and WOMAN, and Im saying this as a gay man. The problem that Scots and others have, is that by making it law, law which is supposed to represent everyone, they are giving defacto acceptance on behalf of the wider population, and I understand how people get upset at this. As for catholics and those doubting their clout, there are 1,2 Billion!

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    The grotesque subversion here is an organisation that dresses men up in frocks, gets them to take a vow of celibacy and then chooses to lecture everyone else on sexual and personal relationships, telling them who they can or can't marry while covering up sexual abuse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    I abhor the Cardinal's opposition to same sex marriage, but I think it is worth stressing that this is only part of his Church's stance on gay relationships and rights, and a totally predictable one.

    As its Bible-based Catechism (official policy document) makes clear, it is opposed to gay sexual relationships and equal rights, so it would be very surprising indeed if it supported this reform.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    163. This is the misconception that the Catholic Church continues to spread and wants you to believe. Marriage was and always has been a civil, legally binding contract. It was not until the Council of Trent when the church decided to formally adopt marriage as it's own.

    There is no sound rational, biblical or theological argument for the stance the church is taking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Re Thesilentpsycho. Having read the bible (know your enemy), can't recall that bit anywhere in revelations.

    Meanwhile, can anyone seriously answer my question - what is going to be the difference between the proposed marriage and the existing civil partnerships?

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Too dumb to understand science? Try Religion!

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    177.Tolvir - "Marriage is a product created by the church......"

    Are you utterly ignorant of the history of formal unions between couples, or aware but deliberately misrepresenting it...???

    Mariage is simply a different name for Hand Fasting which existing in European Pagan socities for thousands of years before Christianity came along.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    This subject isn't just one of religious prejudice. It's a decision society should take. To all the bloggers who agree or disagree with same sex marriage if you feel so strongly about it you should be lobbying for a referendum which will allow an open debate. Not attacking each other pointlessly. Don't waste your time commenting here write to your MP's

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Quote "38. Adele
    I am not religious in any way and I don't attend Church,
    I don't impose myself on you so please don't do it on me
    If 2 people love each other then why shouldn't they be able to commit?" /End Quote
    1) None of your business then.
    2) The Church is refusing to be imposed upon by the State by standing firm to it's views (right or wrong)
    3) They can, but not in church

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    I think I need to clarify things. The Catholic church, unlike Islam in Saudi Arabia, or Hinduism in India, or even Judaism in Israel isn't talking about murdering gays. All they are saying as a major worldwide prominent organisation, is that they tolerate the right to life, just not marriage as they understand it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Cardinal O'Brien seems to be obsessed by thoughts of gay sex.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    Very wise comments that I have read so far. I agree with a point made in each comment I've read.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    The vatican is about to lock the pope's butler up for 5 years because of his attempt to spill the beans over corruption in the church etc. YES it can do that!! The abuse issue has only revealed the tip of the iceberg it would appear. There is a world of difference between secularism and just being sick of the church and the men that run it. Who needs it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    Since I was a child, whenever I ever hear the words "Cardinal" or "Arch Bishop", I always think of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" with their catchphrase "Watchout, It's the Bishop" or "Watchout, it's the Spanish Inquisition!" with Michael Palin comically dressed as a member of the High Clergy. After I went to an evil Jesuit Boarding School I've always stood up to bullies - including religious ones

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    205. krokodil
    Methinks the lady doth protest too much!

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    These Ghosts of men now stand up in front of their believers to pontificate

    Dare the Catholic Church defy the Law? The Church and Law were so inextricably linked in Ireland it is taking a Century to unravel and to put the Church in its proper place, firmly outside of civil law making.

    The film 'The Magdalen Laundries' was enough insight into the mis-doings of the Church.

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    I am amused to see the Catholic Church getting into bed with the Wee Frees.(Free Church).
    Normally they are opponents, but I conclude that in their Christian charity they hate gays more than they hate each other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Lets not beat about the bush, marriage is a failed institution much like the church. The only reason for people to get married is for tax purposes, if you did away with marriage tax allowance nobody would get married anyway. I think you all live in cloud cuckoo land, you're nothing more that organic slime crawling on dirt on a spinning rock you create all these fake games and then argue about them

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    @162 PETE. No one is forcing any church to marry same sex couples, it will be left up to individual churches what they choose. Get your facts right.


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