BY SCO Admin | February 17 2012 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Call to ‘take marriage seriously’

— Cardinal O’Brien uses Holy Father’s words to mark Marriage Week in wake of threats to the institution

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has called on Catholics and British society as a whole to ‘take marriage seriously.’

Speaking during International Marriage Week, Cardinal O’Brien said it was more important than ever to fully celebrate the importance of marriage.

His words came as reports this week suggested the British Government is to backtrack on its plan to announce tax breaks for married couples in next month’s budget and as both the Scottish and British Governments face a backlash over their intentions to look at redefining marriage with a view to including same-sex unions.


The cardinal made the comments at St Francis Xavier’s Church in Falkirk last Sunday at a Mass to celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage. He used Pope Benedict XVI’s words when he urged society to  ‘take marriage seriously’ before adding his own to explain that was because ‘we realise that in past centuries so many may indeed have taken marriage seriously’ but that is not the case now ‘with the declining number realising the joy of the married state.’

Before blessing a number of young engaged couples and presenting certificates of marriage Catechism to six people, the cardinal told those present that marriage was very much under threat in Scotland from within the Catholic community as well as from secular society.

“We realise how in this present time in our country there are so many who do not take the Sacrament of Matrimony seriously,” he said. “There are increasing numbers of marriage breakdowns; there are those many people who are living together without the help of this blessing of God in the Sacrament of Matrimony; there are those who see other ways of living together which demean the wonderful words of ‘the Sacrament of Matrimony;’ and there are those who do find it very difficult to talk to their children about the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony because of some failures real or imagined in their own living out of married life.”

Because of these threats, the cardinal said the Church was placing an ‘ever greater concentration on suitable preparation for marriage’ and to ensure this happened he hoped to see more and more lay marriage Catechists active in parishes.

“At this present time, our ordained priests cannot give enough time to prepare candidates for matrimony and consequently there is a need for trained lay women and lay men to help in this valued apostolate,” he said. “That is why I am more than happy to be able to be here with you this evening to present award certificates following the conclusion of this recent course when the first fully trained group of parish Catechists in marriage are here with us this evening.”

Marriage union

The cardinal also spoke of the teaching of Jesus that ‘unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed from the beginning’ and how that remained the basis of this ‘great sacrament.’

He added the past year provided a fine example of marriage in the modern era in the wedding of the future King and Queen, the Earl and Countess of Strathearn, ‘then Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton’ that he attended.

The cardinal spoke of another event from the recent past when thinking of marriage, the 2010 Papal visit when the Pope said: “There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced.”

The Pope threw out a challenge to each one of us at that time, the cardinal said, and each one of us within us has a duty ‘to proclaim the beauty of the Sacrament of Matrimony’ and to ‘take marriage seriously.’ “

At every level of national life our voices must be heard, that voice of Christian teaching, proclaiming both to those who want to hear and to those who do not want to hear that our standards are those of Jesus Christ and no one will move us from them,” he said.

No tax break

However there were indications this week that the UK Government is not inclined to follow the cardinal’s call. Signs indicate that the chancellor will again decline to give a tax break to married couples in next month’s budget.

Britain is one of the few European countries that fails to recognise marriage in the tax system. In their 2010 manifesto, the Conservatives pledged to introduce a transferable tax allowance worth £150 a year to married couples.

However, this week it was widely reported that Mr Osborne has decided a married couple tax allowance will not feature in the Budget on March 21.

John Deighan, the Scottish bishops’ parliamentary officer, said it was very disappointing news.

“The Church believes there is a duty to support marriage,” he said. “People in society who get married, carry out an obligation that benefits society and to not recognise that is a grave injustice. This seems like the government acting contrary to common good and is another sad example of the war against marriage and the family in this country.”


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