Reaction to Sexual Health strategy.  

Speaking from the Chiapas region of Mexico where he is on a pastoral visit, Cardinal Keith O Brien commented on the Sexual Health Strategy;  

" The concerns of the Catholic church are for the health and wellbeing of all Scots. Scotland's dismal sexual health record is a matter of serious concern for us all. It is appropriate that the Scottish Executive should have examined this key policy area in great detail. In common with others, the Catholic Church participated in the consultation process, with well-argued submission and took part in the wider public debate - these contributions attest to the depth of feeling and concern aroused by this issue.  

However, the fact remains that this debate was precipitated by a dramatic decline in our country's sexual health - no matter how we measure it, the picture of failure is the same in every area; rates of teenage conceptions, abortion rates and levels of sexually transmitted infections (STI's). We are left facing a single incontrovertible fact; all our current approaches have failed. Accordingly, the status quo cannot be an option.  

Cardinal O Brien added;  

I am also pleased the Health Minister recognises marriage as ˜a key pillar of our national life and that he endorses the principle of abstinence. We desperately need new thinking, new approaches and a fresh start in this area. Having been a full participant in the debate, the Catholic Church has offered, many proposals and strategies for action and remains ready to collaborate with all relevant agencies in enhancing Scotland s sexual health  

Cardinal O Brien concluded;  

There remain areas of the strategy which cannot be reconciled with the views of the Catholic Church and which appear to be at odds with wider public opinion. Among them is the continued support for the distribution of the Morning After Pill to schoolchildren without parental consent through pharmacists, General Practitioners and Clinics. I hope such areas of disagreement will be the subject of debate and discussion by the new ˜National Advisory Committee announced today and I underline the willingness of the Church to participate in its work.  

Further comment on the strategy came from Michael McGrath, Director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, he said;  

We welcome the affirmation of the current guidance on the conduct of sex education in Scottish schools. This ensures that it will reflect the cultural, ethnic and religious influences within the home, the school and the community. Parents can be assured that programmes of sex education in their Catholic school will continue to offer Christian moral values to young people.  

Mr McGrath added;  
We remain ready to work in partnership with the Scottish Executive and other agencies, in the development of programmes which promote abstinence and hope to be able to access resources which will allow us to do this.  


Peter Kearney  
Catholic Media Office  
5 St. Vincent Place  
G1 2DH  
0141 221 1168  

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