Bishops hit ‘wall’ on marriage
Publication Date: 2012-08-03
— Doubts over engaging with Scottish Government, turn attention to Support Marriage Sunday
Scotland’s bishops may withdraw from all discussions with the Scottish Government on the issue of same-sex ‘marriage’ over fears the consultation process is a sham.
The bishops may opt instead to devote all of their attention to the Support Marriage Sunday on August 26 to remind Catholics of the importance of the Sacrament of Marriage.
“The Scottish Government said that it was committed to consult on the redefinition of marriage, but it has not listened to the result of that consultation,” a senior Church source has told the SCO. “Now it may or may not engage in a second consultation and it is already committed to legislate. At this stage we have to wonder if there is any point to engaging further.”
He confirmed fears that continued or future Church involvement could be used by secular factions within the Scottish Government to legitimise the path it officially declared it was set upon last week, the legalisation of same-sex ‘marriage.’
Legislating on marriage
In its timetable for a bill on same-sex ‘marriage,’ the Scottish Government included further consultation with the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland to consider any additional safeguards for freedom of religion. The timeframe anticipated the bill passing in Holyrood in mid 2014, before the historic referendum likely to be staged on Scottish independence in November of that year, and receiving Royal Assent in 2015.
The Catholic Church is active in the Scotland for Marriage umbrella group of people of different faiths and none who oppose changing the legal definition of marriage.
The standing committee of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland charged with responding to the Scottish Government’s proposals—which includes Cardinal Keith O’Brien and Archbishop Mario Conti—was due to meet on Thursday after the SCO went to press.
Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen followed Cardinal O’Brien’s lead this week in speaking out against the Scottish Government’s decision to legalise same-sex ‘marriage.’ The Aberdeen bishop said that marriage not between a man and a woman was ‘impossible.’
“You can’t have a meal without food, and you don’t have marriage without a man and a woman,” he added. “This isn’t just social convention. It’s not something any government can change. It’s a fact of life.”
The bishop goes on to say that the government cannot change the essential nature of things.
“The truth is that a government can pass any legislation it likes, it can legislate to say that everything with four legs is a table, even when it’s a dog and not a horse, but that won’t make it so.
“Why is it alright for a man to marry another man, but not alright for him to marry two women? If we really want equality, why does that equality not extend to nieces who genuinely, truly love their uncles? And, if you say that such things don’t happen, that they are mere freaks of nature, extreme examples dreamed up for the sake of argument, I say you need to spend more time in the parish.”
The bishop also said he would continue to love and respect gay people but he could not and would not marry them.
“As Bishop of Aberdeen, I know there are gay people amongst the community of the Church,” he said. “I promise I will always respect and love them and uphold them in their relationship with the God who loves them. But I won’t marry them. It just can’t be done.”
Support Marriage Sunday
Bishop Gilbert will join the rest of the Scottish clergy in preaching that message on Support Marriage Sunday on August 26.
The Catholic Church in Scotland intends to make that Sunday a celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage to show exactly what is being put a risk by the Scottish Government’s plans to legalise same-sex ‘marriage.’
“The Church will use Support Marriage Sunday on August 26, to highlight all that is good and positive about the Sacrament of Marriage, aspects that some in our society have lost sight of,” Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, told the SCO this week.
Plans for Support Marriage Sunday were under way prior to the Scottish Government’s announcement last week that it will proceed with plans to legislate on redefining marriage to allow same-sex couples to wed in spite of the overwhelming majority of respondents to its consultation opposing the plans.
That message has a wider resonance beyond the Catholic Church as the results of the Scottish Government’s consultation on same-sex ‘marriage’ showed an overwhelming majority of respondents were opposed to any change to the definition of marriage.
A total of 77,508 responses to the consultation were received with 64 per cent against any change to the definition of marriage. A further 14,779 responses were received from outwith Scotland which, when added to responses from within Scotland, found just 32 per cent of respondents were in favour of same-sex ‘marriage’ and 67 per cent were against.