BY SCO Admin | October 14 2011 | comments icon 3 COMMENTS     print icon print


Marriage campaign grows

— Archbishop Conti and Bishop Devine voice opposition to changing law for same-sex couples

Two senior members of the Scottish hierarchy have added their voices this week to growing opposition to the Scottish Government’s plans to legalise same-sex ‘marriage’ as the Church backed calls for a referendum on the issue.

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow and Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell both released powerful statements condemning what the archbishop said was an attempt to ‘reconstruct society on ideological grounds.’

“The Catholic Church, for one, will not accept it, and indeed will actively campaign against it,” Archbishop Conti said, encouraging Scotland’s Catholics to make their opposition known.

The Church also backed a call on Tuesday from former SNP leader Gordon Wilson for a national referendum on the issue of same-sex ‘marriage.’

Redefining marriage

Archbishop Conti and Bishop Devine’s statements come after Bishop Philip Tartaglia’s meeting with First Minster Alex Salmond last Friday during which the Paisley bishop reiterated ‘the Catholic Bishops’ publicly stated commitment to ‘strenuously oppose’ any moves towards ‘same-sex marriage.’

The Scottish Government is currently holding a public consultation on plans to legalise same-sex ‘marriage’ but deputy First Minster Nicola Sturgeon has already said she is minded to support the planned legislation.

‘We weaken it at our peril’

Archbishop Conti this week said that many in Scotland shared the Church’s concerns on proposals to redefine marriage.

“There are many within our own society, members of the great world religions, whose support of the family matches that which we in the Catholic Church ourselves maintain,” he said.  “Those in government need to be respectfully reminded that a mandate to govern does not include a mandate to reconstruct society on ideological grounds, nor to undermine the very institution which, from the beginning, has been universally acknowledged as of the natural order and the bedrock of society, namely marriage and the family. In terms of law, its support and defence have been on a par with the defence of life itself. We weaken it at our peril.”

Archbishop Conti also said that, while many might see the redefining of civil partnerships as ‘marriage’ as ‘a small step,’ it was of ‘serious importance and will be rightly resisted by many.’

“This cannot be seen to be in any way helpful in fulfilling the broader aim of social cohesion by which government is clearly motivated,” he said. “It will act to create larger divisions in society and could lead in the future, as we have seen in some of the legislation to date, to gross allegations of discrimination.’

Attack on ‘Christian identity’

Bishop Devine was forthright on the subject, saying that the Scottish Government had been given notice that the bishops of Scotland would ‘strenuously oppose this hostile attack on the Christian model of marriage as the state mobilises to enforce a new more aggressive position in support of same-sex marriage.’

The Motherwell bishop said he appealed to all to ‘recognise the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction but warned ‘the historic Christian identity of Britain is under assault.’

“We now have a straight fight between faith and atheism, morality and amorality, a culture of life and a culture of death,” he said. “The institution of marriage should not be corrupted by the transient fashions of society or by malevolent forces seeking to undermine the place of religious faith in society.”

The bishop added that this attempt to ‘redefine marriage’ had nothing to do with ‘gay rights’ as ‘all the legal rights of marriage are already available to homosexual couples through civil partnership registrations.’

“This is everything to do with dismantling and rejecting 2000 years of Christianity,” he said. “The small but vociferous secular gay lobby, aided and abetted by powerful political forces, successfully and selfishly destroyed Catholic adoption agencies that placed thousands of abandoned children in loving family homes. Now, buoyed up with their success, they are intent on violating Christian marriage. And it will not stop there. We should learn well the lesson of the 1967 Abortion Act.


Former SNP leader Mr Wilson, who is now chairman of the Christian group Solas, made the call for a referendum on redefining marriage along with Free Church of Scotland minister the Reverend David Robertson, who is the group’s director. They asked for the issue to be put to the electorate in a referendum in a written submission to the Scottish Government’s public consultation on the issue.

“The Scottish Government is out of touch with reality,” he said. “This decision should be put to a referendum of the Scottish people.”

Peter Kearney, the director of the Catholic Media Office, said that Mr Wilson’s call for a referendum was ‘very interesting’ and could be a good way to ‘take the national temperature.’

The Free Church last week urged the Scottish Government to drop its proposals on allowing same-sex couples to marry, and ‘applauded the courage’ of the Scottish Catholic Church in speaking out against redefining marriage.

Fundamental campaign

As the Church steps up its campaign opposing the same-sex ‘marriage’ proposals, Archbishop Conti is backing a national campaign calling for Scotland’s Catholics to defend marriage.

In an effort to rally support against the legalisation of same-sex ‘marriage’ the Church has sent 100,000 postcards to households all over Scotland asking people to make their opposition known during the public consultation.

Mr Kearney said the campaign was absolutely vital to the Church and the any government who legalised same-sex marriage could not expect the support of Catholics.

“In terms of an issue of importance to the Catholic Church, this is fundamental, utterly fundamental,” he said. “I can’t see how any Catholic, in good conscience, could support a party which would enact such a law. It’s impossible to imagine. It’s impossible to see how a Catholic who upholds their Faith could support anyone who would dismantle the meaning of marriage.”


Comments - 3 Responses

  1. Steven says:

    As a gay Catholic, I’m dismayed at the hate that’s emanating from many in the Catholic Church. I thought Christianity was supposed to be about love? I cannot believe just how ignorant these bishops are, they have absolutely no idea. Why don’t they spend their time talking about issues that really deserve our attention, poverty, war and so on. Surely being a Christian is about following Jesus, who taught about love and acceptance, not peddling this spiteful stuff about people who have no control over who they fall in love with. Love is love, and it shall always conquer hate, even when it comes from so-called Christians.

  2. Helen Mc Clymont says:

    This is an excellent article, written with a clear message yet showing understanding and compassion.
    These explanations of the Truth, I feel are required to be sent out to the wider public. I am a Catholic Mother and Grandmother and I am very concerned about the examples and teachings that are out there for my family. There is an obvious fight against Christianity and I have both experienced and witnessed the terrible bigotry and anti-catholic culture in Scotland and fear for the future of being free to practice our faith, but I also pray that this might be a blessing in disguise and will continue to unite the Christian Faiths to stand together against the onslaught of Atheism on Gods world. I will be showing my family this article and will look out for more of the same in the future.

    God Bless


    Helen Mc Clymont
    From Glasgow Scotland

  3. William Docherty says:

    Dear Helen

    I share your pain and anxiety as a member of the Catholic faith community from a devout family. While I agree that over the centuries we have suffered from anti Catholic sentiment the current vitriolic debate around proposed Marriage reform undermines our Churches’s ability to discern the ‘bigger picture’ in being truly compassionate. The same arguments were used over 200 years ago to argue against abolishing the Transatlantic Slave Trade insisting that enslaving black people was justified by sacred scripture.

    Why do I hold these views?

    My own Mother is 78 (like you a Grandmother) and has defended our Catholic heritage and faith throughout her life. Imagine therefore her initial shock 26 years ago on discovering that she has a Gay son. Things were difficult for Mum and the whole family while she squared this new insight with her devout faith. She had discovered something deeply unpalatable about her beloved son yet in essence he remained the same child she dearly loved.

    Ultimately after reflection and prayer she discerned that our saviour loves and affirms us all, that her sons love for someone of the same sex is just as valid and treasured by his Creator as any heterosexual love and that he in no way threatened her deeply held belief in a compassionate God. Her sons sexual orientation changed in that instant from threat to gift: something to be affirmed and respected even when it found full expression in relationship.

    Yes, there are Gay people who fall short of what we might call ideal behaviour, driven by ego and self interest, likewise with heterosexual culture too. I contend that these very human gay or Straight failings have nothing to do with sexual orientation as such.

    Why am I so sure of this?

    For the last 24 years I have been in a happy exclusive blessed relationship with my partner Alan in full communion with the Church. We are affirmed and supported by our respective families (just as in marriage) My Mum is particularly proud of us both. We are ‘OUT’ at work, to all of our friends and neighbours in the local community: having nothing to hide are open and honest with everyone.

    Cardinal O’Brien has claimed that: “The empirical evidence is clear, same-sex relationships are demonstrably harmful to the medical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of those involved” With all due to respect to his Grace this is arrant nonsense and does not reflect the loving, nurturing life affirming blessed nature of my relationship and that of my friends who have been together for upwards of 30/40 years all of whom are model citizens and very spiritual people. If the Cardinals contention had any truth none of our relationships could have lasted all of these years. Years during which we have personally witnessed the breakdown of many Catholic marriages sanctified by a ‘Mother Church’ which seems unable to find the Grace to acknowledge that our relationships exist never mind honour them.
    I would argue that it is the Churches stance which is harmful to the ‘medical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of its gay members’. This is true to the extent that many people feeling so excluded abandon their faith in brokenness are driven to suicide.

    Perhaps if the Church stopped hiding blatant prejudice behind presumed tradition and for once listened to its Gay brethren we could all move forward in mutual respect creating a truly tolerant society where our Church would grow in stature and be respected even by atheists and agnostics.

    In conclusion I hope that you do not find my response too confrontational rather a sharing in faith by a kindred spirit seeking truth. Perhaps you would be gracious enough to share my reflections with your family and pray for me as I will for you.

    God Bless

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