BY Ian Dunn | July 18 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1-CARDINAL- O'BRIEN

Cardinal urges SNP to heed public opinion on marriage

Responding to the Scottish cabinet’s dismissal of his call for a referendum on the issue, Cardinal Keith O’Brien sees further study as a positive step and says he remains ‘eager to hear the outcome of the consultation’

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has today urged the Scottish Government to listen to the public on the future of marriage.

Responding to the Scottish cabinet’s dismissal yesterday of his call for a referendum on marriage, Cardinal O’Brien said the issue was one of the most important facing Scotland today.

“The serious implications for freedom of belief and expression of redefining marriage should be as important to a free society as any constitutional matter,” he said. “In light of the unprecedented strength of response to the consultation paper I remain eager to hear the outcome of the consultation and to have an indication of how the people of Scotland regard the issue.”

The SNP Government launched a consultation on redefining marriage last year, but Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgoen said before the process had begun that the government where ‘minded’ to legalise same-sex ‘marriage’. However, the response from the public was the largest ever received by a public consultation in Scotland, with the majority of responses opposing changing the legal definition of marriage, according to Scotland for Marriage.

Since the consultation closed in December the Scottish cabinet has repeatedly delayed making a decision on the issue. Instead of announcing a decision yesterday, as expected, cabinet members set up a cabinet sub committee to make an additional study of the issue.

Headed by the Deputy First Minister, and including Education Minister Mike Russell and Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, the sub committee is expected to look at the impact on religious freedom and freedom on speech should marriage be legally redefined in Scotland to allow same-sex couples to wed. Catholic Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland will advise the sub committee.

Cardinal O’Brien said this formation of the sub committee showed the Scottish Government was taking some of the Church’s concerns seriously.

“In setting up a sub-committee to examine the implications of redefining marriage we have at least an acknowledgement of the grave concerns raised,” he said.

The Scottish cabinet said yesterday that a decision on whether the Scottish Government will proceed with proposals to redefine marriage will made before the end of the month.

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