The proposals have recently been the subject of a DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) consultation which closed on 5 June 2006 and to which the Catholic Bishops of Scotland responded. The Equality Act 2006 included a power that allows the Government to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services, it intends to use this power to make Regulations that take effect in October 2006.
In their response, the Bishops argued that; "A fundamental principle that has to underpin any proposals for regulation is that the freedom of conscience of individuals must be respected. It is not licit to force an individual to act contrary to his moral belief. It is a well-established and reasonable moral position to regard homosexual acts and the promotion of the moral equivalence of heterosexual and homosexual relationships as wrong."
In his homily, Cardinal O'Brien will claim that the regulations will, "force people of faith to approve and cooperate with values that they can never in conscience accept. Faced with such threats, the Church must speak out not just for its own freedoms but the freedoms of all."
He will also claim that if approved the Government will have "overreached" the boundaries of its authority and accuse it of, "trampling legitimate moral freedoms when it imposes values, which are without rational and sociological merit."
Citing the example of St. Thomas More, he will claim; "the right to adhere to one s beliefs, is beyond the powers of earthly sovereigns and human governments." In a strongly worded warning he will add that "democracy which separates itself from truth, taking the path of moral relativism, can soon become thinly veiled totalitarianism"
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. The full text of the Cardinal's homily is shown below.
2. During his visit to London Cardinal O'Brien's programme will include:
Tuesday 13 June:
Meeting with the Secretary of State for International Development
Hilary Benn MP.
Meeting with Lord Brennan, President of Catholic Union, House of Lords
Lunch with Tom Clarke MP
Meetings with James Dobbin MP, Alex Salmond MP, Gordon Brown MP,
Hosting a reception at the Scotland Office, Dover House,
Wednesday 14 June 2006
Mass in the Crypt of the House of Commons
Attend - International Development Questions and Prime Minister s Question Time as guest of the Speaker of the House of Commons
Meetings with the Prime Minister, Nigel Griffiths MP, Sir Menzies Campbell QC MP and Conservative Party MP s
Address by Cardinal and Prayers in Speaker s Apartments “ Palace of
Westminster followed by Dinner in the Speaker s Apartments
Thursday 15 June 2006
Service of Thanksgiving marking 80th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen in St Paul s Cathedral, London