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Catholics must rally to save marriage

Clergy will go to prison rather than perform an act of sacrilege; politicians beware of the ‘Catholic vote,’ writes Gerald Warner

‘Marriage is under threat and politicians need to know that the Catholic Church will bear any burden and meet any cost in its defence.” If those words of Cardinal Keith O’Brien are not a clarion call to defend the most fundamental of all human institutions—what is? The welcome announcement that the Scottish hierarchy has appointed Sunday August 26 as Support Marriage Sunday reinforces words with action. On that Sunday a ‘strongly-worded’ letter from the hierarchy will be read out explaining the dangers inherent in the Scottish Government’s proposals to introduce same-sex ‘marriage.’

Let us hope the letter will indeed be strongly worded: pussyfooting around this issue would be a betrayal of the Sacrament of Marriage. It is time to stand up to the bullying of the militantly secularist, politically correct lobby. The SNP Government was supposed to announce its intentions on same-sex ‘marriage’ on July 17, along with the results of its public consultation exercise. Instead, it announced it was appointing a sub-committee to study legal problems associated with a change in the law. Why did it not investigate those problems earlier?

The real problem is that if same-sex ‘marriage’ were introduced its operation would become subject both to UK ‘equality’ law and similar European legislation. Homosexual lobbyists would undoubtedly challenge the refusal of churches to perform same-sex ‘marriages’ and there is every likelihood that their challenge would be successful. No ‘guarantee’ to the contrary from the Scottish Government holds water: it simply does not have the power to ring-fence churches on this issue. The Catholic clergy should make it clear now that, like their historical predecessors under persecution, they will go to prison rather than perform an act of sacrilege. The laity, too, have an absolute duty to support them. Nor are they lacking the means.

Catholics are also voters. In recent decades it has been assumed there is no longer any such phenomenon as the ‘Catholic vote.’ That assumption may no longer be wholly justified. Four years ago we witnessed a political event that suggested Catholic consciousness was not dead. The occasion was the Glasgow East by-election. That constituency was overwhelmingly Labour; it also had 20,000 Catholic electors. The prelude to this Westminster election saw Catholic adoption agencies in England forced to close because they could not in conscience offer children to homosexuals for adoption; Labour MPs whipped into voting to keep the barbaric abortion law unchanged; and the Labour government promoting the immoral Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Bishop Devine of Motherwell asked: “What are we to do when our religion is attacked and our conscience outraged? When one considers the self-inflicted injuries this Labour Government has visited upon itself, one could be forgiven for thinking it had some kind of death wish.” Cardinal O’Brien denounced the embryology bill as ‘monstrous,’ the Labour candidate Margaret Curran pledged on television she would vote for it; the SNP candidate, a Baptist, promised to vote against it. Voters leaving polling stations on the day told BBC’s Newsnight programme abortion had been the decisive issue for them. Labour lost the seat—the beginning of the electoral landslip that buried them last year.

Now the SNP is arrogantly affronting Christian morality with its same-sex ‘marriage’ legislation—behaviour even more insane than Labour’s. A party can risk losing a general election; the SNP, however, is in a much more vulnerable position since its overriding priority—or so one would suppose—is not to win the next election but to secure a Yes vote in a once-in-a-generation independence referendum. A further vulnerability is that while it might tell itself that constituencies where Catholics are so concentrated as in Glasgow East are rare, so only a few parliamentary seats are at risk, in a referendum every vote counts, regardless of where it comes from. The SNP already has a mountain to climb: no opinion poll has ever recorded a majority for independence. To alienate Catholics collectively is madness.

The bishops should not be shy about spelling out the fact that if it proceeds with same-sex ‘marriage’ the SNP will have proclaimed itself a political party for which Catholics can no longer in conscience vote. A ComRes opinion poll shows 55 per cent of Scots opposed to same-sex ‘marriage,’ with just 38 per cent in favour. It is believed the 77,000 responses to the Scottish Government’s consultation are at least two-to-one against.

Yet the Scotland for Marriage online petition against same-sex ‘marriage’ only has 27,000 signatures—time for Catholics to visit www.scotlandformarriage.org and support this cause. The bad news is there will also be a special collection on Marriage Sunday to fund the campaign against subverting the sacrament; times are hard, but this is one occasion for letting the moths out of the wallet.

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