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Scottish cardinal: same-sex marriage a ‘grotesque subversion,’ a ‘great wrong’

September 12, 2011

The bishops of Scotland have pledged their “strenuous opposition” as the Scottish government considers a proposal to legalize same-sex marriage.

Urging the government not to heed “a vociferous lobby group,” the bishops said on September 7 that “no government can rewrite human nature; the family and marriage existed before the State and are built on the union between a man and woman. Any attempt to redefine marriage is a direct attack on a foundational building block of society and will be strenuously opposed.” Cardinal Keith O’Brien repeated the words of the statement in a homily to Scottish politicians.

In a September 11 newspaper column, Cardinal O’Brien called same-sex marriage “madness” and a “grotesque subversion of a universal human right.”

“At the heart of this debate however there is one perspective which seems to be completely lost or ignored, it is the point of view of the child,” the cardinal wrote. “Same-sex marriage means same-sex parenting, and same-sex parenting means that our society deliberately chooses to deprive a child of either a mother or a father.”

Cardinal O’Brien added:

There is no question, that normalising gay marriage means normalising homosexual behaviour for public school children. In November 2003 after a court decision in Massachusetts to legalise gay marriage, school libraries were required to stock same-sex literature; primary school children were given homosexual fairy stories such as King & King; some high school students were even given an explicit manual of homosexual advocacy entitled “The Little Black Book: Queer in the 21st Century”, which the Massachusetts Department of Health helped develop. Education suddenly had to comply with what was now deemed “normal”.

Other dangers exist, if marriage can be redefined so that it no longer means a man and a woman but two men or two women, why stop there? Why not allow three men or a woman and two men to constitute a marriage, if they pledge their fidelity to one another? …

Disingenuously, the Government has suggested that same sex marriage wouldn’t be compulsory and churches could choose to opt out. This is quite staggering arrogance. Firstly, no Government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage. Additionally, imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that “no one will be forced to keep a slave” would such an assurance calm the fury we would all feel? Would it in any way justify the dismantling of a fundamental human right? Of course not. It would amount to nothing more than weasel words to mask a great wrong.

On September 12, Bishop Philip Tartaglia of Paisley issued his formal response to the government consultation.

“A Government which favours and allows for same sex ‘marriage’ does wrong. It fails in its duty to society,” he wrote. “It undermines the common good. It commits an act of cultural vandalism. Such a government does not deserve the trust which the nation, and including many in the Catholic community, has shown in it.”

“Government should not be persuaded by voices which declare that any opposition to same sex ‘marriage’ is the result of homophobic bigotry,” Bishop Tartaglia added. “This is not only false, but is itself an illiberal and undemocratic intolerance which only seeks to close down rational argument and to intimidate people into acquiescence.”


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  • Posted by: Gil125 - Sep. 12, 2011 2:17 PM ET USA

    I think, New Sister, that one reacts to this statement enthusiastically because of the diction. The Scots manage to use words of one syllable and hence to be absolutely clear about an issue on which members of other national hierarchies---but invidious comparisons might here be seen as uncharitable.

  • Posted by: New Sister - Sep. 12, 2011 2:08 PM ET USA

    Pro Deo et Hibernia - you're absolutely right. and they have done more than shepherd the souls of their own flock -- they have "set the bar" for other pastors to follow. "Bravo, Your Excellencies!"

  • Posted by: Pro Deo et Hibernia - Sep. 12, 2011 1:20 PM ET USA

    New Sister, that's true, but nevertheless congratulations are in order given the fortitude it takes to preach the Gospel of life and love in a culture immersed in death and sin. Even more urgently needed, though, are our prayers for our bishops to be good shepherds both in and out of season!

  • Posted by: New Sister - Sep. 12, 2011 7:15 AM ET USA

    Before everyone piles on congratulating the Bishops, I would like to point out: these Bishops [and the cardinal] should not be seen as doing anything so spectacular, but as doing their duty. [I hope they agree] For any professed Catholic to be any less clear about this matter - be they clergy, or a public figure, or civil servant - is a moral failure.